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How IT professionals can help to achieve United Nations’ sustainable development goals ?!

Did you know that is possible to be a United Nations Volunteer (UNV) without having to get up from your chair? Yes, all you have to do is lend your skills to an on-going online project.

As I always am chasing after meaningful volunteering experiences, I ended up finding the UNV initiative. Since many people still mistakenly believe that volunteer work is mostly about donate money or goods to a given cause, I thought this was an amazing opportunity to change this mindset and maybe inspire people to help their fellows worldwide.

In order to do so, I will divide this story into two pieces. Firstly, I intend to explain the lifecycle of a UNV experience, tracing step by step how you can be a part of it. Then, I will digress a little bit about my own experience on the UNV program.

Ready? Here we go.

http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

Primarily, UN allows institutions all over the world to “call for participation” on projects that meet one or more sustainable development goals. These goals were adopted by several countries in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Furthermore, each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

Once the institution releases the project description, it will be available in UNV website, under the following link. Each volunteering opportunity is described with: (1) task — what you will do; (2) background and objectives —the task accomplishment impact on society; (3) requirements — the technical and interpersonal features they are looking for on someone to carry out the assignment.

Besides that, there is an estimated time (hours/per week and amount of weeks) you’re going to work on the project and how helpful this project will be to boost the sustainable development goals.

Of course it’s up to you to elect the most suitable project according to your skills and availability. For instance, it is possible to choose among translation, teaching and training, research, technology development, art and design, writing and edition, outreach and advocacy, leadership and strategy, and so on.

The next step is to fulfill a form with your motivation and previous experiences, in order to provide information for the institution to choose the best candidate(s). If you are accepted to join the given project, you will receive an e-mail from the coordinator reinforcing your role and deadlines.

After you finish the task, you’ll receive a feedback from the project coordinator and a certificate of accomplishment.

I had one personal experience with the UNV program, translating from portuguese to english— together with others 15 volunteers — a goverment document to guide disaster risk reduction in Cabo Verde community (Africa). Each volunteer was entitled to translate about 15 pages within a week, which were reviewed by another group later on. Overall, it was a very rewarding experience, because throughout my translaton assigment I could realise how valuable that document was to the well being of the community.

Although my volunteering experience was in the translation field, I saw several interesting projects requesting people with specifics IT skills such as website development, wordpress management, team leading, etc. In fact, I already submit an application to a programming language teaching project.

Of course there is options to either volunteer abroad or in your own country. But what I am trying to show is how easy is to contribute with amazing initiatives without much effort, because I keep thinking about how many people don’t do volunteer work due to time constraints or even lack of knowledge on how they can help it.

I am sure there are other programs like UNV out there — and I would genuinely like to know about it. Moreover, I invite you all to try this amazing experience. It’s really worth it.