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#MissionResponsible – Alumni show their commitment

As part of our focus topic ‘initiate.participate.change.’, our #MissionResponsible competition invited Germany-Alumni to showcase their commitment to better cooperation and a more sustainable future on the Alumniportal.

We asked competitors to submit project descriptions, including photos, that documented their social commitment and engagement in the field of environmental/climate protection or participation and peace. Their potential reward was prize money of EUR 300 which they could put towards their respective project.

In the end, a total of 48 entries were received from around the world covering a wide array of thematic fields: from Egypt to Uzbekistan, from help for the homeless in Mexico City right through to academic forums for cooperation and exchange. After a check for completeness, 20 applications were evaluated by the jury.

The three jury members then had the difficult task of selecting the best 8 amongst them. Iris Eisbein (Engagement Global), Robin Pass (AGEP network coordinator/TU Dortmund) and Robin Spätling (chariteam) had a hard time deciding and one or the other of their favourites did not make it through to the final round – there were simply too many good ones to chose from.

The eight finalists were subsequently presented in a public gallery on the Alumniportal and members were asked to vote online. After nearly two weeks, the top three projects have been named.

#MissionResponsible – the finalists

The three top projects are 'Casita para la vida' from the Dominican Republic, 'Do It Yourself Garbage Lab' from Uzbekistan and 'Cross Borders' from Germany. At this juncture though we would like to say well done to all the winners and wish them ongoing success with their excellent initiatives!

  1. Rosaleda Reynoso (‘Casita para la vida’)
  2. Bakhrom Radjabov (‘Do It Yourself Garbage Lab’)
  3. Evgenia Gavrilova (‘Student Initiative Cross Borders’)

We were greatly impressed by the diversity and creativity of the projects and it was certainly no easy decision, since every commitment deserves respect. Therefore we would really like to encourage you to take another, closer look at the many worthwhile initiatives of our #MissionResponsible competition. Take some time to read through the project blogs and, of course, get in touch with one of the contacts if you have any questions.

Below you will find three exciting examples from Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Africa and Mexico which were selected by the jury. Furthermore, the eight finalists in the online voting included ‘One Heart Express’ (Philippines/Nepal), an initiative to use the expressive arts in helping to rebuild lives in places devastated by the recent calamities that struck the country – contact person is Belen Calingacion. The main aim of the project ‘Environmental Recovery in Mexico’ is the restoration of a deteriorated ravine within Mexico City through social participation – contact person is Monica Pallares.

#MissionResponsible: What became of the prize money?

Students against air pollution

The project ‘The Lord of the Dust Filter Rings' is a very hands-on and creative initiative in which a group of students studying German and their lecturer Amela Curkovic are fighting against the disproportionately high concentration of air pollutants emitted by the local steel works in the city of Zenica in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. For years now, the works have been responsible for the alarmingly high incidence rates of cancer and lung disease, explains Curkovic. But as yet protests by the local population have fallen on deaf ears.

Together with her students, she wants to conduct a film project – based on the 'Lord of the Rings' film series – in which they aim to raise awareness for the problem through the medium of entertainment. The jury praised the students’ commitment. Robin Spätling summed it up as, ‘An educational project with creative resources by a dedicated team that has already managed to get corporate backing.’

Streams and river health monitoring

With 'Citizens are doing it themselves – river health monitoring with miniSASS', Germany-Alumna Tembeka Dambuza from South Africa submitted an ecological initiative of a very different kind. miniSASS (Stream Assessment Scoring System), a system for determining the quality of water, is the product of cooperation between an NGO, the South African government and a consultancy company that measures and evaluates the oxygen tolerance of a common type of insect. The resulting data provide an insight into the quality of the tested water. What makes this procedure special is that the act of measuring and evaluation are so simple that even untrained persons can join in and monitor local streams and rivers themselves. Moreover, the results can be uploaded to Google Earth via a website, making them publicly accessible and available for use in research.

'In southern Africa, water quality, quantity and equity is a serious problem. It is now reaching crisis proportions because human impact is degrading water resources at an alarming rate,' says Dambuza.  Thanks to training in other countries in southern Africa, the system is now being applied supraregionally. Furthermore, a smartphone app is currently under development that will make application even easier. Jury member Robin Pass says, 'This innovative project is an example of technology’s use in the interests of the general public and, following initiation, it also gives people a tool they can use to constantly monitor water quality – and hence often the very basis of their livelihoods and existence. Furthermore, the training measures are honing people's environmental awareness.'

Holistic aid in Mexico

The social project in Mexico, 'Helping Hands – Manos Que Ayudan', goes in a completely different direction and offers homeless people free meals as well as yoga and breathing workshops. The volunteers working on this project are not solely interested in providing homeless people with food but with holistic sustenance that will help them to achieve more self-confidence and hope for the future and also assist them to avoid drug abuse or other unhealthy habits.

In his blog, Hector Barbosa talks about how the project got started and recalls how the volunteers were initially unsure about how their target group would react to them. ‘However, once we approached them and they noticed our sincere will to help, they showed out most gratefulness.' The project has since progressed from a few dozen to a few hundred meals a month. Jury member Iris Eisbein voted for this project. She says, 'With this project, help is getting to those people who are on the edge of society. The focus is not just on material assistance. The creative approach helps give these people inner balance and stability.'

July 2015

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APD Redaktionsteam
6 December 2018

Dear Manas Kumar Bhadra,

Thank you very much for your comment! Surely, volunteer work can contribute to the solving of many issues!

With best wishes
Your team from the Alumniportal Deutschland

Manas Kumar Bhadra
6 December 2018

It s a great idea to promote Voluntary Services amongst the Alumnies.
I personally suggest --- Agri-waste Reduction is a very important issue,
if we could create village level Group who will involve Villagers with Ideas for increasing Shelf Life of the perishable produce with the help of Food
Processing + Packaging .Farmers are forced to sell their Produce at a throw-
away prices and/or sim[ly destroy t for want of buyers.
Together with the Govt. Agencies ts Volunteers can contribute to many issues
sch as Employment Generation, profits in Farming as well as big and all round
boost in that countries economy ! Lastly, , young generation deserting Farmikng
and crowding the cities wlll also be controlable to a great extent!
entire Economy of that country

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