Category Archives: Our Programs
Read more from participants of our programs, including Model UN, the Women’s Forum, the Global Issues Series, Young Professionals, and our Signature Events!
November 4 marked the UK debut of “He Named Me Malala,” a biopic of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Ms. Yousafzai, 18, is best known for her work advocating for female education and for surviving a Taliban assassination attempt when armed men climbed on board her school bus and shot her in the head. She is co-founder of the Malala Fund along with her friend Shiza Shahid.
After the screening at the Into Film Festival, UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson sat down for a Question and Answer session with Ms. Yousafzai. During the Q&A, which was broadcast to over 80 cinemas across the UK, Ms. Yousafzai disclosed that it was thanks to Ms. Watson that she became a feminist after viewing her passionate speech at the launch of UN HeForShe program.
The HeForShe campaign is a movement that encourages men to identify themselves as feminists and support for women’s rights because it will benefit their gender as well. This reflects an underlying theme of Malala’s life as she has been able to follow her educational dreams in part thanks to her father who allowed his daughter to follow her education and supported her through all her work.
Ms. Yousafzai finished her interview by taking questions from primary school children in England. She reminded the viewers that they are never to young to start making a difference. “Do the things that you want to do. Don’t think that one day I’ll grow up and do things. Don’t wait for this day, it will be too late.”
Celebrate the birthday of the UN with UNAGB – Click here to learn more and get your tickets to the UN Day Luncheon!!
On October 24, the world will celebrate United Nations Day and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN. Founded in 1945 in the wake of World War II, the U.N. has had a full history, from supporting children’s rights to advocating for the end of colonialism and has been awarded a bevy of Nobel Peace Prizes for their effort.
Too often, people forget how much valuable work the UN has done, and continues to do – all with the mission to make the world a better place to live for all living things.
Click here to be reminded of what the UN has done for YOU!
Celebrate some of the UN’s greatest accomplishments
that have changed your life and the lives of those around you in the past 70 years (and see more here):
1948 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The most famous U.N. document, the Universal Declaration of Human rights was declared in the hopes of never recreating the atrocities of WWII. It continues to be a driving force behind peacekeeping today.
1959 – Declaration of the Rights of Children
Much like the Declaration of Human rights, the U.N. declares that children must be allowed to “develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.”
1961 – World Food Programme
Established as an emergency relief program for the victims of natural disaster or civil conflict, the WFP now provides food to tens of millions of people every year.
1980 – The Eradication of Smallpox
A 13-year long effort by the World Health Organizations results in the eradication of the smallpox disease from the planet.
1987 – Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
The United Nations acknowledges the weakening of the protective ozone layer encircling the earth and all 197 member states ratify the treaty, setting the groundwork for the Montreal Protocol.
1995 – Fourth World Conference on Women and the Beijing Platform
On the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, delegates launch the Declaration and Platform for Action, aimed at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women.
2000 – Millennium Goals
To acknowledge the arrival of a new millennium, the U.N. passes an ambition set of goals to address poverty, disease, infant and maternal mortality, HIV, and an array of other global issues.
2004 – Indian Ocean Tsunami
The U.N. responds to catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami with relief fund that goes on to raise a record-breaking more than $6.25 billion.
2010 – U.N. Women
The general assembly creates UN Women, the UN agency for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
What will the UN do in the next 70 years??
In the lead up to our annual Consuls Ball this year, we have asked several people to write what they are most excited about for the gala – past interns, current interns, attendees, supporters, staff etc. As opinions come in, we will be updating this blog post, so read up every few days on what people have said, send us your thoughts and maybe you will be included in the next post!! Now that the Ball has passed, we also asked some to write about their experience and opinions about the evening. Happy reading!
A volunteer’s thoughts on the Ball
The Annual Consuls Ball is the biggest night of the year for the United Nations Association of Greater Boston — one of Boston’s most passionate and influential non-profit organizations. While the rest of the year is spent shaping the hearts and minds of thousands of young students through their Model UN programs, for this one magical night the UNAGB gets to gather its most steadfast and loyal supporters to celebrate their joint accomplishments. From the Consuls, to corporate sponsors, to individual donors and the general public — this is a night for all to collectively support the initiatives and educational programs of the UNAGB so that one day our youth can achieve a truly lasting international peace and prosperity. With such lofty but honorable goals, it only seems right that for one night we are able to kickback and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals who have all determined that organizations such as the UNAGB are vital to ensure our future leaders have the skills and know-how to engage with each other on an international level.
As a first-time volunteer and attendee at this year’s Consuls Ball, I was lucky enough to meet a class of individuals with whom I could share my personal adoration for the Model UN program. As a young student I was fortunate enough to participate in my high school’s chapter of Model UN. Here, I discovered a passion for international subject matters that has continued to guide my educational and vocational endeavors. As a recently graduated Master’s student in International Studies, it pains me to think how my life would have transpired had I not been introduced to the Model UN. Luckily, events such as the Annual Consuls Ball help to ensure that the UNAGB’s Model UN programs remain accessible to each and every student who possesses the desire to tackle our world’s most pressing international problems and develop solutions based on mutual cooperation and understanding. For those who have been attendees at the Ball and have listened to the testimonies of past and present Model UN students, it is easy to see the way these programs have changed the perspectives and attitudes of thousands of students in the Greater Boston area.
To give the night its proper glory, a large amount of name-dropping and grandeur has to be added. To begin, the Annual Consuls Ball is held in the historic Fairmont Copley Plaza inside its magnificent and regal ballroom. This year’s attendees included foreign dignitaries and Consuls from countries as diverse as South Korea, Sweden, and Colombia. Attendees were greeted with a welcome speech from UNAGB’s President Richard Golob and Boston’s Mayor Martin J. Walsh expressed his personal gratification for the UNAGB’s tireless efforts to broaden the minds of Boston’s youth. In addition to these honorable guests were attendees from across the globe, from India, to China, to South Sudan. Each and every attendee was unique in their own way — even us volunteers! To top off the night, the Beantown Swing Orchestra hit the stage as American Idol finalist John Stevens serenaded us with his sweet ragtime melodies. As the clock struck midnight and the Ball came to a close, I know that many departed with more than just the orchestra’s gleeful rhythms stuck in their heads. This year’s attendees were left with the knowledge that they had offered their tangible support for one of Boston’s most enduring and beneficial organizations and are forever a part of the UNAGB’s enduring legacy.
– Chelsea C.
An intern’s first night on the job
This summer I am so lucky to be interning with UNAGB. As soon as I heard about the organization, went on to the website, and saw the fantastic events and conferences this organization organizes I couldn’t wait to apply to be an intern. After being accepted for the summer, I was invited to help volunteer for the Consuls Ball as my first glance at the organization. Needless to say, I was thrilled for a chance to dress up and work at such a fancy event. Looking at the Facebook posts from previous years I could see that I would be attending an event that would be an amazing opportunity to meet the many people who were involved with UNAGB.
I was astonished by how absolutely beautiful the entire ball was. Having never been to Copley Plaza before, I loved the architecture. It was the perfect setting for what would be a very enjoyable night. I was also amazed at how smoothly everything went, mostly due to the dedication of the other volunteers who were there to help out. Many had been interns at UNAGB before, just as I am this summer. The fact that they were willing to come back and help with this event, even though their internships had been completed years ago for some, was a big clue that the work of this organization is very worthwhile.
As the guests started to arrive I enjoyed interacting with them and listening to how excited everyone was for the evening. Of course, one of my favorite parts was checking out everyone’s dresses. I have to say, all the guests looked fantastic. It was truly amazing to see everyone chatting with each other and telling stories. The atmosphere was so friendly and everyone I had the chance to talk with had interesting stories to share. After an absolutely delicious dinner, the live auction was a huge hit as everyone loved watching the energetic auctioneer. The night concluded with music from Beantown Swing Orchestra, and we all loved watching the couples dance and have a great time.
Looking back, I am so glad my first day at this internship was at the Consuls Ball. This was one of the best ways I can think of to see just how much of an impact this organization has on the Boston area. The generosity of the guests completely blew me away, both during the auction and afterward at the last call for donations. I can only imagine what a huge impact the results of this night will have on the students of this area. It was a whirlwind of a night, with so many different names, faces and conversations to remember. The number of people who came to the ball to support UNAGB amazed me. I am so grateful to be given a chance to be a part of such an enthusiastic and committed team who is capable of impacting so many lives.
– Bridget I.
An Intern’s Perspective on returning for the Ball
I have been involved with the United Nations Association of Greater Boston since September 2014, and I can honestly say that being a part of this community is one of the best decisions I have made since moving to Boston about a year and a half ago. I have been so impressed with the organization and cannot begin to say how excited I am to take part in this year’s Consul’s Ball. The impact that UNAGB has on the local community is unbelievable. More unbelievable is thinking about the world wide impact the thousands of youth served by UNAGB will have in the future. To me, taking part in the Consul’s Ball is more than just a fun night of food and fun with interesting people, it is an opportunity to ensure that UNAGB’s work is recognized and that their impact continues. Every year more than 5,000 Boston youth take part in Model UN programming. These students decide to spend their time learning about world issues, finding where their passions lie, and cultivating their skills to become agents of change. UNAGB facilitates an environment for opinions to be solidified beyond passion and backed up with facts, enabling Boston’s youth to be well informed citizens not only of this country but of the world. They are encouraged to see the other side, negotiate not just to win, but to find viable solutions that are best for all parties. The skills that students gain through model UN programming are irreplaceable and imperative in a world where issues regularly cross borders. Multilateral decision making is increasingly important. The value of arming our youth with the skills to navigate this changing global climate cannot be over stated. I am so proud to take part in the Consul’s Ball on May 9th to support UNAGB, the thousands of youth that are served through Model UN programs, and the world at large which stands to benefit.
An Intern’s Perspective on her first Ball
UNAGB’s Consul’s Ball is the one event I am most looking forward to attending this year. Not only is it exciting to be part of this big and positive event, but it is also exciting to know that I will have the opportunity to be among wonderful people who share the interest of bringing change to many communities and the world. Furthermore, I am looking forward to networking with people who have different backgrounds and come from different countries, as traveling is one of my passions.
Last fall, I was honored to have met and chatted with some consuls and an ambassador, at a UN Day Luncheon. The stories I heard from them were eye opening, and made me view the world differently. For example, the Irish Ambassador to United Nations told me how he worked with Irish Aid (a program that focuses on development in countries that are overseas) in the past. I have heard of Irish Aid growing up, and all the amazing things that they do, but I didn’t really know much about the organization. After that conversation, I went home and researched their website to learn more about the organization. I ended up learning about their online volunteering program that I can proudly say that I am now part of. Without UNAGB’s event, I would not have had a chance to meet with the ambassador, and neither would I have thought about Irish Aid and their volunteering program.
I have my ball gown, and glass slippers ready to dance, eat, and be part of this amazing event!
– Tabia K.
JOIN US ON MARCH 6th for the annual International Women’s Day Celebration!
On March 8 of very year, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, where lives of women and girls are honored and celebrated. It is the day when we call everyone to take part in bringing attention to women’s rights and gender equality. This year, UNA-GB together with our amazing co sponsors is proud to bring yet another wonderful event to commemorate this wonderful day.
Every day, thousands of people are diagnosed of HIV/AIDS in Africa . And every day, thousands of people die of AIDS across the African continent.
The main challenge that most Africans face is disclosing to their friends and loved ones that they are HIV/AIDS positive. The stigma, the fear, and the rejection that most HIV/AIDS patients face when they are diagnosed with the disease is what kills them. In South Africa, the HIV/AIDS rate is higher in women comparing to that of men – almost twice the amount. Most women are at risk because they are very dependent on their male partners. Because of poverty and lack of employment, it is mostly males who support and provide for their families. While the women stay at home to cater for their families’ needs, their husbands may have multiple sexual partners therefore risking lives of their partners and family. Knowing that they do not provide for their families economically, most women stand little to no chance to mediate any choices that they may have that could prevent them from getting and spreading HIV/AIDS virus.
An additional burden is that women in South Africa have a very high risk of being raped, and a huge amount of these rapes go unreported. If unreported, women don’t get tested for HIV/AIDS and if infected, continue to spread the disease unknowingly. These sexual predators are thus never convicted and also spread the disease. Sexual assault is one of the main reasons why African women are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The highest rate of infection are found in women below the ages of 30; also the group that has the highest percentage of rape survivors. (Learn more here)
In this year’s event, UNA-GB will be screening Positively Beautiful, a story about life and love in the age of HIV. In the documentary, five HIV positive people are brought together through their HIV/AIDS status. As they lead their day to day lives, their bonds grow close through all the challenges they face, and through the love the receive and share.Positively Beautiful is a universal story of triumph and of friendships ability to help overcome life’s greatest challenges.
The panelists speaking after the movie are an impressive bunch. Douglas Brooks is the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy at the White House. Mary Tiseo is the Executive Director of South Africa Partners. Mickey Aramati is an Assistant Professor for Global Health at Tufts University School of Medicine. And we are pleased to have Diveena Cooppan with us especially, the filmmaker extraordinaire who brought this story to life on the big screen.
Please join us as we celebrate this day! Learn more and register here.
Friday, March 6, 2015
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
MCLE: 10 Winter Place, Boston
Thank you to our co-sponsors:
Center for Women’s Health & Human Rights
South Africa Partners
Tufts University Department of Public Health at the School of Medicine
Model UN for me, has been a transformative experience. It has made me a better student, worker, and world citizen.
UNAGB is delighted to announce that our 2013 MSMUN Secretary-General from Northeastern University, Zunaira Malik has been invited to chair the Human Rights Council at Geneva’s International Model UN (GIMUN) conference. Zunaira’s extraordinary involvement with Model UN, past academic achievements, and drive for international relations make her a fantastic choice for this position. What an exciting opportunity!
Throughout her time at Northeastern, Zunaira was an active member on the Board of Directors for the International Relations Committee (IRC), which organizes the annual MSMUN conference with UNAGB. With the help of over twenty volunteers from the IRC, Zunaira organized an extremely successful 2013 MSMUN event for nearly 400 middle school students from around Boston. Her dedication to Model UN and passion for working with students stems from her own personal experiences.
Chairing the MSMUN conference was an incredibly rewarding experience. Seeing delegates tackling real-world problems, collaborating to come up with creative solutions while juggling their own convictions, and that too at such a young age, it’s really very inspiring. I remember going to bed that night feeling like the future will be okay.
She explains that in her first year as a Model UN participant, she was too intimidated to speak on the first day of the conference. After hearing encouragement from her professor and mentors on her team, she gained the confidence to speak about policy issues on the second day. It was this experience that inspired her to help young people participating in Model UN conferences to speak up despite the fears they may have. In fact, as a member of the directors’ board, she sat with her younger peers and helped nurture the sort of confidence she gained in her first year.
Zunaira has also shown incredible achievements prior to moving to Boston for college. Born in Pakistan, she moved to New York with her family in 1997 when she was in the second grade. Her working knowledge of five languages (Urdu, English, Spanish, Punjabi, and Arabic) as well as a number of high school experiences fueled her interest in international policy. In her sophomore year of high school, she was inspired by a town-sponsored leadership event that taught her about public speaking and policy negotiation. In her junior year, Zunaira was selected as one of two Presidential Scholars for New York, which is the highest honor awarded to high school students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement. Through the prestigious program, she studied U.S. politics and took trips to the Democratic National Convention, the State Office, Pentagon, and Department of Defense.
Through Northeastern’s Coop Program, she was able to work at the Department of Defense and Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s office. Last summer she was in Jordan working with Syrian refugees and then went to The Hague and ICC/ICJ to work on reconciling peace and justice in post-conflict societies. She is currently working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. and hopes to pursue a career in policy. What an impressive young lady!
UNABG is extremely proud of Zunaira’s accomplishments and honored to have been part of her very impressive Model UN (and UN) past.
(Model UN) has provided me with skills that class lectures and coops don’t cover. I have learned a lot about my leadership style, issues that I am passionate about, and most importantly how to collaborate, debate, and negotiate with others. It provided me with a platform to gain confidence in coming up with creative solutions to problems plaguing our society
We are pleased to be supporting Zunaira in her efforts to travel to the chair at this upcoming prestigious Geneva Conference. If you would like to join with us in making a donation, please visit this site. All proceeds will go directly towards her travel.
Model UN is a gateway for opportunities: a cultural platform where a medley of delegations come together and pool their ideals and brainpower to work towards a common goal – a successful resolution addressing various solutions towards the world’s problems. As this world’s inhabitants we owe it to ourselves to address its issues and Model UN provides a plethora of ways to do so. After all, if we won’t do it, then who will?
Braving wind and snow, 10 talented writers took a break from the negotiations at Harvard’s Model UN Conferences to visit UNAGB’s office two weeks ago. While warming up and learning about what our office does, these international students were kind enough to share insights about the skills they have developed through Model UN as well as ideas for teaching the next generation of global citizens. Here’s what they had to say when asked, why should young people do Model UN?
Being a part of MUN encourages us young people to realize how the world interacts, its issues, and to take a bigger role in solving these issues. To participate in MUN helps us understand how powerful we really are.
Model UN is an opportunity to understand and engage in fascinating aspects of global diplomatic, international affairs, and political strategy. In a dynamic, globally-connected 21st century world, students need to have complex understanding of policy internationally in order to succeed.
Model UN for me is a way to connect young people globally in order to solve the issues of the world while considering and bringing each and every creative idea together through brainstorming and lobbying.
Young people should do Model UN because it’s an ideal place to meet people who are smart, open-minded and creative. Each time I go to a conference we come together with our individual experiences to tackle problems. And each conference is unique because their creative minds think of a solution I haven’t even thought about.
Young people should participate in Model UN in order to better understand the world around. Model UN fosters communication and partnership between groups in order to better the world around them. The skills developed in Model UN are necessary for cooperating with one another in order to achieve a main goal.
Model UN enables students from diverse backgrounds with a diversity of ideas to finally collaborate in order to develop innovative ideas for development. It allows students to have a broader spectrum of the international community and work towards a common goal – to pass a resolution that benefits everyone. It is a great experience and allows for self-development.
Model UN is not just one opportunity but a gateway to a whole new realm of discovery. It is an experience where you are not only inspired to construct solutions to problems, but execute this in a collaborative and diplomatic way. One certainly leaves the conference as a more cultured, informed and competent global citizen.
Model UN not only teaches about one of the most important institutions in the world, but also allows students to understand the intricacies of the world and form educated opinions about complicated issues. From these opinions, future leaders and participating members of society have the proper basis to start to fix the problems in the world.
Young people know their community, they know their city and they know their people. Model UN opens the global community to the youth. It is about integrating local to the global world. It is about presenting the reality of other places to someone who might never have had the opportunity and involving them in the conflicts and needs of the world.
Merhaba, dear readers!
In preparation for our upcoming Taste of Turkey event, with Turkish Airlines and the Turkish Consulate General at Sofra Bakery, we decided to brush up on our Turkish cuisine knowledge and share our findings with you. Whether you managed to get a ticket (tickets sold out in 24 hours!) or just want to learn more yourself, read on!
Turkish cuisine is a fusion cuisine – taking influence from the surrounding countries, but adding unique twists for a vast array of specialties.
“Similar to other grand Cuisines of the world, it is a result of the combination of three key elements. A nurturing environment is irreplaceable. Turkey is known for an abundance and diversity of foodstuff due to its rich flora, fauna and regional differentiation. And the legacy of an Imperial Kitchen is inescapable. Hundreds of cooks specializing in different types of dishes, all eager to please the royal palate, no doubt had their influence in perfecting the Cuisine as we know it today. The Palace Kitchen, supported by a complex social organization, a vibrant urban life, specialization of labor, trade, and total control of the Spice Road, reflected the culmination of wealth and the flourishing of culture in the capital of a mighty Empire. And the influence of the longevity of social organization should not be taken lightly either. The Turkish State of Anatolia is a millennium old and so, naturally, is the Cuisine. Time is of the essence; as Ibn’i Haldun wrote, “the religion of the King, in time, becomes that of the People”, which also holds for the King’s food. Thus, the reign of the Ottoman Dynasty during 600 years, and a seamless cultural transition into the present day of modern Turkey, led to the evolution of a grand Cuisine through differentiation, refinement and perfection of dishes, as well as their sequence and combination of the meals.” (Turkish Cultural Foundation)
You might most easily recognize Turkish desserts, which have become extremely popular in many western cultures, like baklava and Turkish delights, but the savory delights of Turkey are not to be trifled with and bang a pretty hefty flavor punch – just think about kebabs or kofte! Some common ingredients that you’ll find in Turkish food are: ground beef, eggplant, lamb, beef, fish, chicken, and nuts among others. For additional flavor, they use olive oil, onions, tomato paste and cheese. Some common grains include rice, white flour, and bulgur. You can learn more here: Turkish Cuisine by the Turkish Cultural Foundation.
In general, Turkish food is very delicious and nutritious. With a vast variety of ingredients, spices, textures and traditions, Turkish cuisine is absolutely something that we all should be enjoying more. I hope that you will be joining us on the 21st, and if not, be sure to stop by Sofra (or its sister restaurant Oleana) at your own leisure.
Interested in brushing up on your Turkish knowledge outside of food? The Guardian and CIA World Factbook are full of facts and interesting stories. Also, want to read about something really cool? Sunken vessels were found under Istanbul by Dr. Ufuk Kocabas…he will be joining us in Boston in April, so get properly prepared for the event by reading about his findings!
It is Fall, the temperatures are dropping, and the leaves are changing colors. Do you know what that means? Drumroll! UNA-GB is pleased to announce its 2014 United Nations Day Luncheon! This years’ event will take place on Monday, December 8th at the Boston Harbor Hotel. Register now before it is too late!
Since 1948, United Nations has been celebrating the Anniversary of its founding in 1945 through UN Day. According to the UN, it should be an occasion for “governments and peoples to reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter”. Since 2000, UNA-GB has celebrated the international holiday with our annual luncheon, gathering leaders from the business and academic communities in the Greater Boston area for an engaging dialogue on world affairs and an opportunity to network with other globally conscious individuals and organizations.
This years’ Luncheon will focus on Ireland, the world leader in quality of life. USA and Ireland have relations that go way back, from values that our ancestors shared, to emigration. Two of the most important areas that the two governments share are education and medical research. Ireland’s membership in the European Union has helped its relations with United States, especially in areas such as trade and economic policy. Besides trade and economics, United States and Ireland hold a unique bond: millions of American citizens have some ancestral connection with Ireland. Boston is known to have the highest population of Irish people in the whole United States! And this is one of the many reasons why you should attend this amazing event! Still wondering why you really need to honor us with your attendance?
Here are a few more reasons we can think of:
1. Ambassador David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations will be there.
2. He will be our keynote speaker. Read all about him here.
3. Our attendees will include individuals and companies who are actively engaged in global affairs, as well as who have a commitment to global education in the Boston community and a desire to foster dialogue among a diverse set of companies, peoples and nations.
4. There will be opportunities to network with professionals, consuls, and other individuals who are dedicated to promoting the founding principles of the United Nations.
5. Members of the UNA-GB, professionals of all ages, Consuls from a variety of Consulates in Boston, and most importantly, YOU will have the opportunity to discuss anything from national issues/achievements to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with like-minded people who support the work of the United Nations.
6. It’s a good excuse to get out of the office (or school or the house) and enjoy some delicious food at one of Boston’s finest landmarks!
7. You will be supporting UNA-GB’s programs, which aim to educate today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders!
Convinced? Then hurry up and sign up to attend 2014 UN Day Luncheon here!!
It has been about eight months since the start of the massive Ebola outbreak in West Africa and it still very much remains an issue to this day.
However, this is not the first outbreak in history. In fact according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first recognized incident occurred in 1976 in Zaire, what is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Flash forward to November 17th 2014, the United Nations praised the end of the outbreak in the DRC among other victim states like Nigeria.
What has the United Nations and the world done to tackle this West African crisis and essentially global issue?
In September of this year, the Security Council and the General Assembly unanimously recognized the establishment of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). This branch of the UN developed as a response to the Security Council’s concern that Ebola was a “threat to international peace and security.” Different sectors of the UN that focus on humanitarian aid collaborated and carried out innovative measures to tackle the disease in the face of adversity. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded high air support from the UN team to stricken regions through enabling the distribution and delivery of medical, nutritional, and critical aid supplies as well as the travel of health and sanitation experts and aid workers. In addition, UNMEER has been working closely with governments and national structures in the affected countries, regional and international actors, such as the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and with Member States, the private sector and civil society.
Resource shortage is not only the critical problem to face but also social stigmas. Recently, the UN Secretary- General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, delivered a passionate message calling for a global social media campaign to “express solidarity” and to promote anti-discrimination. His call for individual action to reduce stigmatization does not restrict only to UN actors but to each and every individual everywhere like you and me. Social media is an effective neutral platform in that it can exponentially reach a wide audience.
The UN and the World Bank have sought the inspiration of powerful cultural figures such as the world’s top football players to spread important health messages and promote anti- discrimination to their most easily influenced audience, children. Even Google and Facebook are joining in on the effort through advertising their philanthropic missions on the sites. Google pledged to donate $2 in addition to matching the donation by their users. The company has already reached its limit of $7.5 million. Google is sending their technology experts to collaborate with Doctors without Borders and distributing donations to powerful NGOs like Partners in Health as well as Doctors without Borders.
Dr. Nabarro stated it best, “when everyone is fully involved, there is a slowing of the outbreak. That is a real source of inspiration”, and my I add, a solution.
So what are we at United Nations Association of Greater Boston doing? In accordance with our mission to build understanding on global matters within the local community, UNAGB hosted a lively discussion panel on “Ebola: West Africa and the World”, on November 21. Cheryl Bartlett, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Chris Garabedian, President and CEO of Sarepta Therapeutics, Dr. Rick Sacra, MD and Ebola survivor spoke about what their appropriate organizations are doing as well as lending personal thoughts and experiences with Ebola.
To read more about the speakers, click here. You can also visit the UN Global Ebola Response page to follow the UN’s progress in the mission and learn how you can help. Pictures of the event forthcoming.
नमस्ते (Hello) readers!
We are so excited to bring back our long overdue taste of culture event series with Taste of India on November 5th! And what serendipitous timing.
This past week was the annual “Festival of Lights” or Diwali celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs.
It is an official public holiday in many parts of India. This religious holiday celebrated in autumn spiritually honors the dualistic nature of life; that is the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. Various schools of Hindu philosophy center around the belief that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite and eternal (Atman). Diwali celebrates the awakening or transcendence into this ideal state, which is ultimate oneness and the Inner Light.
Since Diwali is celebrated among three religions, the religious significance and practices vary. The festival, for Sikhs, marks the historical, political moment when the much revered Guru Har Gobind (16th Century) freed Hindu Kings from imprisonment under Islamic rule and arrived at the Gold Temple in Amritsar in Northwest India. To this day, Sikhs celebrate their version of the festival of light with fireworks and merriment at the Golden Temple. While, Jains on the other hand celebrate the attaining of Nirvana (liberation from cycle of death and rebirth) by Lord Mahavria, the reformer of Jainism and the last individual to have attained samsara (cycle of death and rebirth). For Hindus, depending on regional myths, legends and beliefs, pay homage to deities such as Lakshmi, Kali, Rama, Krishna and many others. In return, worshipers hope to receive abundant blessings for the year ahead as well as giving thanks.
The eve of Diwali night, people undergo an elaborate, meaningful ritual of cleaning, renovating and decorating their homes; preparing a puja (prayers to certain deities) and dressing in their finest. This is comparable to Christmas in that there is a commercial component. It is one of the biggest shopping seasons in India, as individuals buy new clothes, gifts ranging from food to practical utensils for themselves and others.
The holiday provides an opportunity to start anew, thus marking the start of the new year, especially for businesses in some regions.
Diwali is one of many beautiful traditions, holidays in India. Learn more about other aspects of Indian culture with some awesome YPs Wednesday, November 5th! Reserve your ticket and join us at Diva’s Bistro for a “Taste of India”! and Happy Diwali!!