Ghanaian NGO, Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa wins 2011 UnitedNations Volunteers award

A jury of experts in volunteerism and development cooperation from around the World constituted by the United Nations Volunteers has today announced Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa(VPWA), a Ghanaian base non-governmental organization and its volunteer Yolanta Cwick from Canada, among nine others as 2011 winners of the prestigious annual United Nations Volunteers award. The award honours the contributions of volunteers who work to contribute to peace and development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The 2011 Jury included:
- Mr. Alejandro Díaz Garreta, Director, Volunteering and Youth Division, Fundación Telefónica, Spain

- Ms. Anne Callanan, Chief, Recruitment and Reassignment Branch, Human Resources Division, World Food Programme (WFP), Italy

- Mr. Geoff King, Director, Volunteer and Business Partnership Section, Community Partnerships and Latin America Branch, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Australia

- Ms. Madina Athie, President, ONG Citoyennes et Citoyens Debout, Mauritania

- Ms. Tiziana Oliva, Director for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, VSO, United Kingdom

- UNV representatives from country offices and headquarters

In congratulatory message from United Nations Volunteers Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri emphasized that “Volunteers are an incredibly valuable asset and ultimately, 2011 – the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers – has been about recognizing those who light up our world through their commitment to peace, human development and sustainability.”

In a press release from UNV Headquarters in Bonn Germany, it said, ''the winners were chosen based on their 'outstanding' commitment and contributions, the results of their collaboration and their impact on the activities of the development organizations they supported''.

Yolanta Cwick who shared her long-standing editorial experience, conceived a website and posters for the Deworm Ghana Campaign run by Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa. 3,900 children were dewormed as a result of this campaign, which was the first in a series that the organization will replicate in other West African countries.

According to the World Health Organization, worm infections are one of the most common long-term infections of children in low-income countries, and deworming is the most cost-effective method to significantly increase primary school attendance and a child's ability to learn in school.

“Our aim is to treat as many children as possible annually with the help of volunteers, teachers and community health care providers while improving education through an integrated school health programme,” says VPWA's Executive Director, Hayford Siaw. He praises Yolanta as an “exceptional volunteer who was always willing to share ideas and information and delivered quality output leading to the overwhelming success of the medical outreach program.”

For Yolanta it was the first time to volunteer online and this experience has taught her “that you don't need to be an expert in issues that a local NGO is working on, but that your skills that may come from your job or education can be used to supplement a program.”

She continue '' “Of all my work experience, I am most proud of my UN Online Volunteer experience and hope to work with more organizations in the future. On a personal level, the best part has been the continued collaboration and contact I've kept with VPWA.

Volunteering for me is more than just working on a project with an end, but a way to connect with people who work hard on the frontlines of their communities. It keeps me grounded in real world issues that are given little or no news or exposure.“

UNV also launches the first State of the World's Volunteerism Report, which captures the value of volunteerism on a global scale and deepens the understanding of the impact that volunteerism can have on our lives and on our world.

Source: Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa. For more information contact: Executive Director on +233 24 3340112

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