Archive for February 2009

Global Volunteer Options for the Working (and Non-working) Professional and Individuals Via the Internet

February 27, 2009

As unemployment rates rise in the United States, the jobless find comfort and continue to keep their resumes active by participating in various volunteer activities. A while ago we shared with you ideas for the college student looking for an “alternative spring break” of overseas volunteering. Today, we’re going to focus on small efforts both the employed and unemployed professional/individual can partake in – and our suggestions even have an international twist.

Nabuur.com is an online volunteering platform that links Neighbors (online volunteers) with Villages (local communities) in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Connected through Nabuur.com, Neighbors and local communities learn about each other, share ideas and find solutions to local issues. Nabuur.com is a fantastic example of how technology and new media are even playing a role in volunteerism today. Watch this video for a thorough introduction to how the program works:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Operating under the same spirit as Nabuur.com is the United Nations Volunteers site which connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development. Volunteers donate their skills and team up with organizations in need of those specific skills to work toward a common goal all via the internet.

For those looking for resources to get non-profit or grassroots ideas off the ground, Social Actions offers tools via their online database of more than 20,000 actions aimed to help people share opportunities to help make a difference. The great thing about Social Actions is that it is flexible enough to work both at a community and international level.

Another social action network is Change.org which helps people learn about various causes, refers them to non-profits and other related organizations and ultimately makes the necessary connections to help people get involved.

What we’ve listed today are just a few of the many options available to anyone with the time, passion and ideas necessary for volunteering internationally (or within the community) and the great thing is, each one of these opportunities begins from your computer.

For the gainfully employed or those still searching for work, volunteerism is a great way to use your skills to help others help themselves, keep your resume active and hopefully bring yourself a sense of personal satisfaction.

[“The Advanced Ape” would like to thank the Rising Voices Google Group for sharing these fantastic ideas.]

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The New and Improved Peace Corps Journals Site

February 25, 2009

A while back we highlighted for you some of the links on our sidebar which included the Worldwide Peace Corps Journals site – an aggregated collection of Peace Corps volunteer blogs.

After stopping by the site again, I noticed that they have completely updated it so that it includes not only PCV blogs, but photos and videos from volunteers as well as the site’s most popular stories. It’s pretty amazing and well worth taking a look at – I envy the kind of technology volunteers have these days in terms of documenting their work. It’s pretty impressive!

I have included a four-part video series which I found on the Worldwide Peace Corps Journals site. This series comes from Peace Corps Namibia and is about the country’s 2008 Camp GLOW which focuses on educating youth about HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as leadership development and team building. It’s a four part series which begins with an introduction and history of the camp and concludes with a self-assessment from the camp’s chair. It’s impressive and inspiring to watch and can be found, along with other Peace Corps videos, in the video section of the The Worldwide Peace Corps Journals site:


The Global Financial Crisis: How Developing Communities are Coping

February 23, 2009

The global financial crisis has left few nations untouched and is hitting developing countries especially hard, as we were recently reminded by China’s Hu Jintao who used the crisis as a rally call for China’s sometimes questionable relationship and interest with impoverished African countries (think Zimbabwe). Hu recently tied up a tour of Africa as part of China’s attempts to foster close ties with the continent.

Hu’s African tour, despite China’s personal interest in the region, has highlighted the obstacles developing countries – not just in Africa but around the world – face during these challenging times:

“The impact of the crisis on economies around the world is still deepening and its grave consequences will be felt more in the days to come,” he said in a speech at a town hall gathering in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam.

“It has put developing countries in a particularly disadvantaged position. Many African friends are concerned that in the face of the daunting challenges of the financial crisis, their international developing partners may scale back aid, debt relief and investment in Africa,” Hu said.

So how are developing communities coping and is it possible for them to be self-sustainable in the context of such a weak world economy?

One village in Thailand has found a solution:

During a period when foreign aid risks falling victim to strained resources, less money and donor fatigue, it’s always great to see communities find solutions on their own in creative and effective ways.

H/T to Global Voices Online and Al Jazeera.

Spring Break and Volunteerism – Where to Go and What to Do

February 20, 2009

It may only be February, but now is the time when college students begin planning for the annual migration off campus to exotic places – otherwise known as spring break. While margaritas, parties, blue seas and the chance for innocent flirting have not disappeared, another aspect of the tradition has emerged and is growing – volunteerism – or the “alternative spring break.”

It’s been more than three years since Katrina, but spring break volunteering is growing exponentially, according to Andrea Hutchinson, of Adventures in Travel Expo.

“We’re further away from Katrina, but President Obama was just elected,” said Steven Roy Goodman, educational consultant. “There has been a real resurgence of a spirit of service.”

Whatever one’s political affiliation, spring break service trips are an excellent way to travel and make a difference.

So where should the adventurous spring break volunteer go and what should they do during their time off from studying? What should they know before they embark? Here are some helpful links to answer all those questions and more: (more…)

Pennies for Peace

February 18, 2009

There was a time when the region of Central Asia was virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Then 9/11 happened and suddenly all attention was focused on Afghanistan and the region as a whole.

But before the events related to 9/11 even took place, Greg Mortenson was working in the region and had founded the Central Asia Institute which continues its work of building schools for girls in a part of the world where education for girls has not always been possible.

Yesterday I received a packet from the Central Asia Institute (of Three Cups of Tea fame), which included a beautifully written and photographed report on the institute’s work in Central Asia. But while paging through the material the CAI sent me, another project also caught my eye — Pennies for Peace:

Pennies for Peace educates children about the world beyond their experience and shows them that they can make a positive impact on a global scale, one penny at a time.

Our best hope for a peaceful and prosperous world lies in the education of all the world’s children. Through cross-cultural understanding and a solution-oriented approach, Pennies for Peace encourages children, ultimately our future leaders, to be active participants in the creation of global peace.

The Pennies for Peace Web site offers some fantastic resources for teachers interested in participating in the program, including some facts about the areas where the CAI operates. It also lists suggested books for school kids in relation to the program’s mission and a themed curriculum for teachers, among the other materials found in the program’s “toolkit.”

Teachers interested in having their classes participate in the program are encouraged to register on the Pennies for Peace Web site.

Below is a video summarizing the CAI’s work as well as the Pennies for Peace project. [Note: Some of the people interviewed in this clip have inserted their own political philosophies into the video, but what is important is the larger message about the importance of education.]

The Power of Journalism Around the World

February 16, 2009
Serbian Web Journalism School participants.

Serbian Web Journalism School participants.

Newspaper circulations may be declining worldwide with the advent of web-based media, but that has not diminished the vital role journalists play in society, particularly when it comes to social development. In terms of coverage, journalism has managed to adapt with the changing times through web-based reporting: blogs, online networking sites and other new media applications have added a whole new twist to how news is covered and consumed. Due in part to the increased connectedness the Internet now brings us, reporters in other parts of the world are learning how to take advantage of the perks technology offers the industry while others are answering the call to journalism’s role in social development and how it can improve lives in their own countries.

One notable project that is helping shape the journalists of today is the Serbian Web Journalism School which was founded “in Belgrade by Serbian citizen media enthusiast and veteran blogger, Ljubisa Bojic.” The school relies on local media experts to teach the fundamentals of citizen journalism to participating students.

Thanks to the help of a grant from Rising Voices (see sidebar), an initiative dedicated to bringing “new voices from new communities and speaking new languages to the global conversation by providing resources and funding to local groups reaching out to underrepresented communities,” students at the Serbian Web Journalism School are learning how to take advantage of web-based applications and are using them in their reporting.

Students now can use Google Maps to help illustrate a news story and are experimenting with new media applications such as Facebook, blogs and Flickr – all which bring reader interaction to online journalism. In fact, the students have their own Flickr page and blog, which we have added to our sidebar.

(To see other Rising Voices projects, follow this link.)

In another example that highlights the importance journalists have in today’s society, during an interactive forum in Nigeria, journalists there have been “urged to double their efforts towards anchoring developmental projects that have direct impact on people at the grassroots to enable them to enjoy the dividends of democracy.”

Jummai Alhamdu, the Kano/Jigawa program manager of the State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) emphasized to participants the growing roles journalists must fill when it comes to social development efforts, especially in their own communities:

“As the eyes and ears of the general public, journalists are expected to inform the government about the needs of the grassroots and at the same time inform the public about government policies and programs for proper execution,” she said.

The full story can be read here.

Editor’s Pick: palabras sin fronteras

February 13, 2009

Every once in a while we’ll showcase a blog that has caught our interest in the hopes that it will catch our readers’ interest as well.

While getting wonderfully lost in the World Wide Peace Corps Blog Directory (seen on the sidebar), I stumbled across this gem from the Dominican Republic: palabras sin fronteras (also added to our sidebar).

Warning: Do not start to read this blog unless you have time to spare because if you’re like me, once you start, you may not stop.

Written by a self-described “non returnable Peace Corps volunteer,” the unique thing about “palabras” is that it goes beyond the simple recording of a typical day-in-the-life-of a PCV. It’s written in a romanticized and magical style reminiscent of great writers such as Salmon Rushdie.

In fact, this blogger can make a mention of “explosive diarrhea” (an unfortunate reality all former and current Peace Corps volunteers are familiar with), sound like an excerpt from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel – or at least artfully and humorously connect the two:

When the viajita died, her children commenced to cry a flood of tears, inundating the only bridge out of town, leaving them isolated in their mourning, from the velorio to the funeral 9 days later. It was like something out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. I wish I had so eloquent a way to describe having 9 days of explosive diarrhea while the latrine’s flooded.

Written in small, but very poetic paragraphs, each dedicated to its own story about life in the Dominican Republic through the eyes of one Peace Corps volunteer, “palabras” makes for an addicting read.