World Volunteer Web – We can all make a difference

I visited Ali Dahmash’s blog, Under My Olive Tree, today, looking for an old saying I had read there several months ago.  I didn’t find what I was looking for. But I was astonished and greatly pleased with what I did see.

Ali’s Under My Olive Tree Initiative has been listed with the The World Volunteer Web, which is part of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program. The World Volunteer Web supports the volunteer community by serving as a global clearinghouse for information and resources linked to volunteerism that can be used for campaigning, advocacy and networking.

The World Volunteer Web is comprised of more than 20,000 organizations and individuals. Its purpose is to catalyze partnerships among volunteers from all continents.

The focus of this effort is the UN”s Millennium Development Goals, a set of goals, numerical targets and quantifiable indicators that will be used to assess progress in certain areas of development. All United Nations Member States have pledged to meet the following goals by the year 2015.

Some of the goals include eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, establishing access to primary education and the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women.

This website is also the global focal point for International Volunteer Day (IVD), which takes place on Dec. 5.

I first “met” Ali on Twitter by mutual “retweeting” of our posts. Then one day, Ali tweeted a very specific request: He was looking for immediate help for an impoverished family in Jordan. I don’t remember too clearly what the need was. But I was impressed with the use of social media to get the help this family needed as quickly as possible.

It was through this effort in August that I learned that Ali,  a Palestinian citizen of Jordan, had set up an organization dedicated to helping people in need. Here is what he has to say about himself:

I’m a proud  son of the Middle East and the Levant region. Originally Palestinian, Jordanian by nationality, Muslim by birth, an Arab by identity. …

I believe that only with dialogue and justice we can achieve Peace in the Middle East. …Have a strong passion for Social Media and believe it’s today’s tool to reach millions of people and to achieve change in the Political & Social scene in the Middle East.

“I hope my website will be a tool for people to understand more about the Middle East and Islam, [its] an opportunity for everyone to get together and have an open, uncensored conversation.

The fact that there is a World Volunteer Web at all is a fact to be marveled with. In this day and age of divisiveness, conflict, and a seeming retreat into opposite and pugilistic corners of the globe, there is a platform that can bring us all together, regardless of nationality, creed, color or gender. The unifying force is the desire to make the world a better place. It is a strong testament to the United Nations and proof that the UN still can be and is relevant today.

I am only just learning about the many facets of the UN and how it’s actually quite approachable. I’ve always used them as a major resource when producing materials about Palestine and the occupation – particularly the excellent data, studies and reports issued by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the agency that deals with the Palestinian refugee situation.

But this week I became aware of the UN Foundation, a public charity created in 1998 with aid from philanthropist Ted Turner  to support UN causes and activities. The foundation is basically the liaison between the UN and the public, and is a “platform for connecting people, ideas and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems.”

Next week in my role as AMP media director and independent journalist, I will be in New York to participate in UN Week and to report on issues coming out of the General Assembly and the meetings concerning the Millennium Development Goals. The UN Foundation, along with Mashable.com and 92Y are sponsoring the Digital Media Lounge, where journalists, bloggers and NGOs can come together to work, report, write and network.

I’m so excited to be part of this global trend and am grateful for an organization like the UN Foundation that is making this all possible.

Bringing diverse people together here and globally, the Digital Media Lounge and the World Volunteer Web are just two efforts that are fostering hope for a brighter tomorrow that will see equality and justice for all the peoples of the world.

We need to take the lead from Ali and determine how we best can serve humankind. Then we should come up with a plan for International Volunteer Day on Dec. 5 and make it happen. We can contribute to a global groundswell that believes positive change can happen.

After all, we are really one, large global village. Let’s start acting like it.

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