Winners of United Nations Volunteer Program (UNV) 2014
Winners of UNV Youth Volunteering Award during the ceremony
United Nations Volunteer Program UNV and MBC Hope “Doing Good” Competition united under one roof during its second annual event to honor and grant awards to the “Arab Youth Volunteering for a Better Future”
United Nations Volunteer Program UNV and MBC Hope “Doing Good” Competition united under one roof during its second annual event to honor and grant awards to the “Arab Youth Volunteering for a Better Future” project, and to MBC Hope’s “Doing Good” competition winners. The event took place in Dubai, UAE, in the presence of the guest of honor Ahmad Alhendawi- United Nations Secretary- General’s Special Envoy on Youth.
Ahmad Alhendawi & Mazen Hayek while distributing UNV awards
Get to know more about the winners of UNV Youth Volunteering Awards:
Hadeel AbuSoufeh (Jordan)
One day, Hadeel hopes to work for an organization that supports people with special needs. To achieve this goal, she participates in human rights trainings with a special focus on the rights of people with special needs and studies sign language on top of her commitments at university. Hadeel currently studies Nutrition & Food technology at the University of Jordan. As a volunteer, she supports young people with special needs in their struggle to achieve equal access to Higher Education. Her commitment as a campaigner, researcher and media spokesperson stems from her own experiences navigating everyday life as a student with special needs. When she started her studies, Hadeel encountered many challenges as the university was not equipped to meet the needs of wheelchair users. Ever since Hadeel learned about the rights of people with special needs she has been working to make these accessible to her peers. At her university, Hadeel mobilized fellow students to raise awareness of students’ special needs and the consequences for learning with the university’s management. For instance, before wheelchair accessible toilets were installed, students would fast a day in advance in order to participate in classes at university. As a result of her campaign, 20 toilets designed for people with special needs were installed as well as two sign language interpreters hired for deaf students. The university also established a library of audio recordings for the blind and installed an elevator. Thanks to this, students like Hadeel can now reach their classes easily. Now, Hadeel hopes to expand her work to other universities across the country, because she believes that education is the most basic of citizenship rights.
Lamia Bazir (Morocco)
As an undergraduate student of International Studies at Al Akhawayn University in her native Morocco, Lamia visited a local community in the Atlas Mountains for the first time. This experience, she says, changed her life. She was impressed by the harsh living conditions as well as the acumen of the women she met there. Hoping to contribute to the community, Lamia founded Empowering Women in the Atlas, a citizens’ initiative for human development and the empowerment of women. She also established a partnership with a student club in Al Akhawayn to encourage young volunteers to be part of Empowering Women in the Atlas. One project that was initiated as a result of Empowering Women in the Atlas was the construction of a traditional bath (Hammam) operated by women but for use by the entire community. Donations totalling USD$20,000 were collected and construction will begin shortly. Not only will this project generate income for women in the community, but the infrastructure built as part of the project will improve the village’s access to water and sanitation. Since her first visit to the Atlas community, Lamia has completed Masters of International Affairs from both Sciences Po and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Nevertheless she has continued to return to the Atlas Mountains where her collaboration with local women taught her the enormous potential of truly participatory development and continues to inspire her.
Ahmad Alhendawi & Mazen Hayek while distributing UNV awards
Zina El Nahel (Egypt)
Zina originally trained as a pharmacist, but realized later that she was passionate about other issues such as education, too. She believes that education is essential to any development work. With reference to her home country Egypt, Zina is very critical of the quality of education most people have access to. She believes that Egypt would benefit from creative solutions outside of the formal education sector.
In the wake of the 2011 revolution, Zina realized that there were many educational initiatives that she had not been aware of. Therefore, she co-founded the organization Education Square which brings together non-formal education initiatives and NGOs to share best practices, work collaboratively, and advocate for quality education. Through this work, Zina came across the Nile River School in the Governorate of Giza and she decided to volunteer there for two weeks. This experience impressed the importance of creating an enabling learning environment for children. Therefore, Zina has returned to the village regularly each month for a couple of days. She is working to connect trying to connect the school with individuals and NGOs from Cairo and create a support group to make the project sustainable.
Saifeddin Jlassi (Tunisia)
Saifeddin is passionate about theater and its potential to bring out marginalized groups’ hidden potential. He is a graduate of the High Institute of Fine Arts in Tunis, and currently preparing for postgraduate studies at the High Institute of Dramatic Arts. Alongside pursuing his education, Saifeddin works as a trainer and facilitator in the human rights field. He teaches theater at the International School in Tunis and has led various theater workshops for youth, including a workshop for young leaders that employ art for change under the auspices of the Anna Lindh Foundation in Jordan. As a volunteer, Saifeddin aims to empower young people through art and drama. He coordinated the project ‘Let me Dance’ which was held by the Foundation Cultural Resource and acts as the director of the street art association ‘Artist Inspite Of Himself”. However, it was his experience volunteering with the ‘Bringing Hope through Culture’ Caravan that motivates Saifeddin to continue to volunteer in order to build peace. As part of the caravan, Saifeddin led theater and dance workshops for children of Syrian refugees, amongst others.
Amal Al Saqal (Yemen)
Amal completed her undergraduate studies in Sociology in Sana’a in 2012. Her family encouraged her to volunteer from an early age and she joined the Scout Movement in primary school. Ever since, she has been involved in spreading the spirit of volunteerism in her native Yemen. Amal sees volunteers as contributing importantly to their country’s development. Therefore, she returned to the Girl Scouts as a voluntary Public Relations Commissioner. There, she organized regular visits of scout members to primary and secondary schools and prepared Girls Scouts camps and conducted scouts forums where important public issues are discussed. More recently, Amal has worked to build links between the Girl Scouts and senior government and local officials to ensure their support for voluntary work and the Girls Scouts’ contribution to Yemeni society. In addition to this, Amal has also led three scout groups from various schools and supervised their activities, conducted various training and capacity-building activities, and coordinated their participation in the national Girls Scout movement.