Sharon Capeling... Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada   Attended Moose Jaw Technical High School (A.E. Peacock)            Video from Ottawa memorial service      http://www.canadianclubregina.ca/sharon.html

SharonCapeling-Alakija, the executive coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers program, died on Nov. 4 from cancer. She was 59.

Born in Canada, Capeling-Alakija earned a degree in education from the University of Saskatchewan, then joined the Canadian University Service Overseas, a volunteer organization that provides technical assistance to governments and educational institutions. She spent 20 years with the CUSO, teaching and fundraising in the Caribbean, Tanzania and Togo.

From 1989 to 1994, Capeling-Alakija served as the director for the U.N. Development Fund for Women. She spent three years as the head of the U.N.'s Office of Evaluation and Strategic Planning in New York before she was promoted to executive coordinator of the U.N. Volunteers program.

"Ms. Capeling-Alakija was a deeply committed and creative leader of United Nations Volunteers, which promotes volunteerism, sends some 5,000 United Nations Volunteers into the field every year and is often described as the 'human face' of United Nations development efforts," stated U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The staff at the U.N. in Bonn planted a red maple tree in her memory



Memorial information page

http://www.unv.org/about/sharon/memorial.htm



Press Release
SG/SM/8986



SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY SADDENED BY DEATH OF SHARON CAPELING-ALAKIJA,


HEAD OF UNITED NATIONS VOLUNTEERS


The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:


The Secretary-General was deeply saddened by the death of Sharon Capeling-Alakija, the Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteer Programme.  Ms. Capeling-Alakija was a deeply committed and creative leader of United Nations Volunteers, which promotes volunteerism, sends some 5,000 United Nations Volunteers into the field every year and is often described as the ※human face§ of United Nations development efforts.  In that post -- as well as in her previous positions as Director of Evaluation and Strategic Planning in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women -- she understood the need for the United Nations to reach out as widely as possible and engage people from all walks of life in the Organization*s work.  Ms. Capeling-Alakija will be sorely missed by her many, many friends in the United Nations family, and by many thousands of United Nations Volunteers, past and present, around the world.

News Release Final tribute to Sharon Capeling-Alakija

BONN, 11 November 2003--The United Nations family paid their final respects to the late Sharon Capeling-Alakija (1944 -2003), UN Volunteers Executive Coordinator, at a memorial service in Bonn, Germany. The service was prepared by UN Volunteers staff and attended by dignitaries, colleagues, family and personal friends from all parts of the world.

During the ceremony Ms. Capeling-Alakija was eulogized as a ※powerful woman§ with ※profound commitment§. Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recalled that she was graceful in the company of world leaders, and humble with those working at the grassroots level. He said, ※Today, we celebrate a woman of courage, a woman of vision, a strategic planner, a team-builder, a fighter, a fund-raiser, a manager and a leader. But what we most celebrate is the wonderful person Sharon was - one of a kind.§

Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Director General of Germany*s Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation (BMZ) described her as an ※inspiration and role model.§ Takahiro Shinyo, Consul-General of the Consulate of Japan in Duesseldorf said ※we will remember this great human being with the highest respect,§ while Baerbel Dieckmann, Lady Mayor of the City of Bonn, added ※the world will be poorer without Sharon§.

Ad de Raad, UNV Executive Coordinator a.i., described the service as a celebration of Sharon*s life. He echoed the sentiment of what hundreds of people have expressed in messages since her death, ※It was a privilege to walk along the same path as Sharon Capeling-Alakija§.

Staff at the UN premises in Bonn later planted a Red Maple tree in her memory. The tree is a truly Canadian symbol of peace strength, and growth,which was Ms. Capeling-Alakija*s favourite.

The volunteer community around the world organized gatherings to commemorate Ms Capeling-Alakija*s life. Further commemorations will take place in Ottawa, Canada, and in New York, United States, in December.

Ms. Capeling-Alakija passed away peacefully on 04 November 2003, in Bonn, Germany, after a courageous and long battle with cancer. She was 59.

Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is the volunteer arm of the UN system supporting peace, relief and development initiatives in nearly 150 countries. Created by the UN General Assembly in 1970 and administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNV works through UNDP country offices and a network of international organizations to mobilize more than 5,000 UN Volunteers annually, 70 percent of whom come from developing nations. It also supports thousands of other individuals participating in the work of the United Nations for development as online volunteers. The United Nations General Assembly has designated UNV as focal point for the follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers, a further opportunity to promote the ideals of volunteerism around the world.

Final tribute to Sharon Capeling-Alakija


 

Bonn, 12 Nov 2003--The United Nations family paid their final respects to the late Sharon Capeling-Alakija (1944 -2003), UN Volunteers Executive Coordinator, at a memorial service in Bonn, Germany. The service was prepared by UN Volunteers staff and attended by dignitaries, colleagues, family and personal friends from all parts of the world.

During the ceremony Ms. Capeling-Alakija was eulogized as a "powerful woman" with "profound commitment". Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recalled that she was graceful in the company of world leaders, and humble with those working at the grassroots level. He said, "Today, we celebrate a woman of courage, a woman of vision, a strategic planner, a team-builder, a fighter, a fund-raiser, a manager and a leader. But what we most celebrate is the wonderful person Sharon was - one of a kind."

Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Director General of Germany*s Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation (BMZ) described her as an "inspiration and role model." Takahiro Shinyo, Consul-General of the Consulate of Japan in Duesseldorf said "we will remember this great human being with the highest respect," while Baerbel Dieckmann, Lady Mayor of the City of Bonn, added "the world will be poorer without Sharon".

Ad de Raad, UNV Executive Coordinator a.i., described the service as a celebration of Sharon*s life. He echoed the sentiment of what hundreds of people have expressed in messages since her death, "It was a privilege to walk along the same path as Sharon Capeling-Alakija".

Staff at the UN premises in Bonn later planted a Red Maple tree in her memory. The tree is a truly Canadian symbol of peace strength, and growth,which was Ms. Capeling-Alakija*s favourite.

The volunteer community around the world organized gatherings to commemorate Ms Capeling-Alakija*s life. Further commemorations will take place in Ottawa, Canada, and in New York, United States, in December.

Ms. Capeling-Alakija passed away peacefully on 04 November 2003, in Bonn, Germany, after a courageous and long battle with cancer. She was 59.

Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is the volunteer arm of the UN system supporting peace, relief and development initiatives in nearly 150 countries. Created by the UN General Assembly in 1970 and administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNV works through UNDP country offices and a network of international organizations to mobilize more than 5,000 UN Volunteers annually, 70 percent of whom come from developing nations. It also supports thousands of other individuals participating in the work of the United Nations for development as online volunteers. The United Nations General Assembly has designated UNV as focal point for the follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers, a further opportunity to promote the ideals of volunteerism around the world.

UN mourns loss of senior official Sharon Capeling-Alakija


Memorial ceremony for late Sharon Capeling Alakija

5 December 2003 Staff members and diplomats at the United Nations gathered today to pay tribute to the late executive coordinator of the UN Volunteers (UNV), Sharon Capeling-Alakija, whom UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called ※a natural world citizen inspired by a profound desire to help build better lives for others.§

Ms. Capeling-Alakija, a Canadian who joined the UN in 1989, died 4 November in Bonn, Germany, after a long illness.

"At a time of unprecedented change in the world and in the role of the United Nations, Sharon had an instinctive grasp of the need for the organization to reach out as widely as possible and engage people from all walks of life to join in our mission," Mr. Annan said.

※She brought that understanding to bear on all her work with us 每 whether as Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers programme, Director of Evaluation and Strategic Planning at UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), or Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).§

The highly successful International Year of Volunteers she led in 2001 provided vivid testimony of the energy and enthusiasm she brought to that approach, he said.

The UNV supports human development globally by promoting volunteerism and by mobilizing volunteers.

19/08/2004

Press Release
SG/SM/9453


IN MESSAGE TO VOLUNTEER CONFERENCE, SECRETARY-GENERAL PRAISES


CONTRIBUTION OF SHARON CAPELING-ALAKIJA


Following is the text of the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the eighteenth Volunteer Conference of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE), delivered today in Barcelona by Gillian Sorensen, Senior Adviser, United Nations Foundation:


I deeply appreciate the opportunity to send my greetings to the eighteenth World Volunteer Conference of the International Association of Volunteer Effort, and in particular to say a few words about Sharon Capeling-Alakija, who died prematurely at the end of last year.


Sharon*s life reflected the very highest ideals of the United Nations:  commitment, compassion and a solidarity with the most disadvantaged and excluded of our world.  She possessed a rare ability to motivate people around her, whatever their background, to get things done.  And she was an inspirational leader, with a firmly held conviction that despite everything -- despite poverty and hatred, despite apathy and the seeming intractability of some of the challenges we face -- people can change the world for the better.


Sharon applied this view from the very beginning of her working life -- when she set out into the world as a young volunteer -- to her last efforts to make the UN Volunteers what it is today:  the central place in the United Nations for promoting volunteerism for development.


Sharon often said how lucky she was that her joining UNV coincided with the designation of 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers.  She recognized at an early stage the extraordinary opportunity the Year offered not only to UNV and the cause of development, but also to the wider volunteer movement around the globe.  With her customary energy and imagination, she embarked on a mission to ensure that the Year would be truly transformational, and that it would involve constructing a big tent so that as many people and organizations as possible would fit inside.  Of all her achievements, this was one of her finest.  I know that many of you here today were active in the Year, and benefited directly or indirectly from its outcome.  It is fitting indeed that this inaugural lecture should take place in the midst of so many of those whom Sharon sought to encourage and support.


Sharon*s presence is badly missed by her family, friends and colleagues, and by the volunteer movement.  Her passing was also a terrible loss to the United Nations.  In the uncertain and dangerous world in which we live, we can ill afford to loose individuals of Sharon*s calibre.  But she left behind a wonderful legacy that I am sure will continue to guide and inspire all of you as you continue your important work.  Thank you for your support, and please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.


Sharon Capeling-Alakija passed away on November 4, 2003. The story below is a witness to her achievements and outstanding contribution to improving the living conditions of people around the world.

"I couldn't believe my good fortune: my first real job on leaving Saskatchewan was being sent to teach on the tropical island of Barbados for CUSO. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!"

After almost thirty years of international humanitarian service, Sharon Capeling-Alakija is still incredulous about her great start in the field. It was a big leap from from her rural roots in Moose Jaw. She had working-class parents who lived very close to the land. "I was the first in my family to complete high school, let alone go on to university," she said.

Despite 〞 or maybe because of 〞 her humble beginnings, Ms. Capeling-Alakija has managed to pack a lot of international development service into her varied career. After 14 years of working for CUSO, formerly the Canadian University Service Overseas, her next (almost) 14 years have been spent in various United Nations (UN) organizations.

What motivated her to make a career of serving humankind? Ms. Capeling-Alakija says it was her roots. She insists there wasn't any obvious influence in that direction, but she feels that by growing up in Saskatchewan, with its progressiveness, social and civic values, and spirit of fairness and cooperation, certain attitudes probably seeped into her unconscious. "I spent the first 23 years of my life hundreds of miles from any major cities, landlocked and snowbound, being fed a healthy diet of social justice. I guess when I met the CUSO recruiter, I was ripe for travel and the desire to contribute."

After teaching for three years in the Caribbean, Ms. Capeling-Alakija managed to get cross-posted to Tanzania, where she was dramatically confronted with the realities of the Third World. "I became more engaged in development issues and started to question everything." She began to understand that her job was not to replace locals, but rather develop their capacities. Later, in West Africa, she worked in many roles: recruiter, trainer, manager, fundraiser, and communicator.

During her final seven years with CUSO, she was the director of the West African program, based in Togo.

"I had a front-row seat on the entire scope of development issues such as gender, environment, poverty, literacy, water and sanitation, and rural extension," she said. "I learned first-hand about working together to develop practical and strategic plans, with locals taking ownership. My life was full. I was learning lots. I got married, immediately acquiring a family of three teenage stepsons. I expected to spend the rest of my life in Africa."

It was not to be: her Nigerian husband, Robin, was suddenly killed in a car accident 〞 and everything changed. Ms. Capeling-Alakija stayed in Togo for a year after the tragedy, supported by her many friends, colleagues, and family, and continued to work. "But after a year, I knew I had to change my life completely...so I returned to Canada, pulled together a c.v., and started to look around at what else I could do in international development work."

In 1988 she was almost simultaneously asked to apply for jobs within two UN organizations: the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in New York. Ms. Capeling-Alakija admits she had only limited knowledge about the UN at the time, but she decided that her African experience might be useful, so she sent in her c.v. "I had no master's degree, no UN experience," she said. "I was coming from a totally NGO [non-governmental organization] background, so I didn't think I had much of a chance at getting either position."

She was offered both, and chose the position of Director at UNIFEM. "What a steep learning curve," she said. "I knew nothing of UN structures or the jargon, but I seem to thrive on challenges, so I learned fast." And her commitment to women's equality, along with her managerial and development experience, was solid. With the advice and support of women's networks, and many gender experts such as Caroline Moser, she moved into her new job with finesse.

The word in the halls is that Ms. Capeling-Alakija put UNIFEM and women's rights more solidly on the UN map and at UN tables. She held a gender lens to mainstream issues like the environment, refugees, and human rights, and pushed the idea that women's rights are human rights. She also struggled to frame violence against women as a legitimate focus of UNIFEM's efforts. She said if UNIFEM did not speak of these issues, who in the UN would? She also raised millions of dollars for the organization, which is an associate fund of UN Development Programme (UNDP), and gave it the high profile it continues to have today.

She then moved on to new UN challenges. Ms. Capeling-Alakija became Director of the Office of Evaluation and Strategic Planning at UNDP's New York headquarters. She held this post from April 1994 until December 1997. As part of her job, she was responsible for the overall management of UNDP's results-based evaluation and planning functions. Her particular focus was in developing ways to monitor program effectiveness and impact, strengthening feedback mechanisms, and encouraging the growth of a learning culture within UNDP. Again, Ms. Capeling-Alakija's background in teaching and training stood her in good stead.

In 1998 Ms. Capeling-Alakija was offered what she calls the best job in the UN family: Executive Director of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme. Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is widely regarded as the human face of UN peace and development efforts. Working through a network of cooperating organizations and UNDP country offices around the world, volunteers are recruited each year to assist in the areas of poverty reduction, community development, humanitarian relief, human rights, electoral support, and peacebuilding processes.

"UNV also takes me full circle in my career," said Ms. Capeling-Alakija. "I started in 1967 as a volunteer with CUSO and will finish my career heading a program that sends over 5,000 highly qualified and dedicated volunteers from over 160 countries around the world."

The lessons Ms. Capeling-Alakija learned at CUSO are very useful for UNV. Early on, she was able to enrich people's jobs by getting rid of a lot of old baggage while making some real systemic changes that translate into better service to clients and improved support to the volunteers. And the UN-designated International Year of Volunteers 2001 gave the scope to focus more deeply on strengthening UNV's support of the comprehensive nature of voluntarism. "We have a global canvas and electronic systems to work within," she said. "Annually, we have over 10,000 volunteers available on-line as well as 5,000 actually on site around the word. We have no recruitment problems # and 67 percent of our volunteers are from the South, which reflects our world's diversity."

Ms. Capeling-Alakija has clearly found her niche. "What I like best about working at the United Nations is that it belongs to the world. It has lofty and meaningful goals, and it is up to all of us to make this institution strive to reach them. This is also a special moment in time to be part of the United Nations because we have, in our Secretary-General, a leader who embodies the best ideals embedded in the Charter. I am proud to be on his team."

On the Occasion of the Memorial Service for
Sharon Capeling-Alakija,
1944-2003

Remarks by Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

11 November 2003


It is an honour to speak about Sharon with so many of you who knew her and loved her so much. For everybody who*s here, wherever we all come from, this also is a reflection of Sharon*s life and bears testimony, in its own way, to the extraordinary colleague, mentor, advocate, leader, and friend Sharon was to so many.

All of us who worked with her have stories to tell about how she helped people recognize their strengths and build on their dreams; because this is exactly what she did herself.

Born an only-child in a working-class family, Sharon grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada, and she said, ※being fed a healthy diet of social justice§ as she once described it. And throughout her distinguished career, first with CUSO, now known as the Canadian Volunteer Sending Organization, and later with UNIFEM, UNDP and UNV, Sharon demonstrated that extraordinary commitment to social justice and her conviction that people are key to change.

She believed strongly in people*s capacity to change the world around them and beyond.

Beginning her career as a volunteer herself, Sharon*s first assignment to Barbados was a far cry from her landlocked, snowbound hometown of Moose Jaw, Canada. She could hardly believe her good fortune that her first overseas project was teaching on this tropical island of white sands and turquoise seas.

After three years in the Caribbean, Sharon was posted to Tanzania where she became more directly engaged in development issues and where she experienced first hand the nature of development work, which she strongly believed was not about replacing locals with expatriates, but rather about developing their capacities 每 a conviction that stayed with her throughout her working life.

Later in West Africa, Sharon worked in many roles, including, recruiter, trainer, manager, fundraiser and communicator. During her final seven years with CUSO, Sharon was the director of the West African programme, based in Togo, where she dealt with the full range of development issues, from gender and protecting the environment, to poverty, literacy, water and sanitation. She often used to say that everything she learnt and held to be true about development, she learnt during her years in the field with CUSO.

And it was her time in Africa that shaped so much of the Sharon we knew. It was there that she met her Nigerian husband Robin, immediately acquiring a family of three teenage stepsons. One of them is with us today. Following the tragic death of her husband in a car accident, Sharon continued living in West Africa before deciding to return to Canada.

But that passion for Africa continued unabated throughout her life. The last project the two of us worked on together was the Southern African Capacity-Building Initiative, a project to help countries in the region cope with the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on their societies. She will be pleased to know that the first of those volunteers, as UN Volunteers, for that program has just been accepted in Botswana and has been deployed at this time. So the project she held dear is now on its way to fruition.

Sharon*s time as Director of UNIFEM from 1989 to 1994 was a job she felt she ※had been preparing for all her life.§ It was also a job that presented a very steep learning curve where in her own words: ※having never even worked for one government, there were then 155 governments at the United Nations and I was going to be reporting to two committees of the General Assembly.§ And I might add, she was also going to be reporting to the Administrator to UNDP. But knowing Sharon, that would have been the least of her problems. But in true Sharon-style, she learned the UN jargon faster than anyone around her could properly pronounce her hometown Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan.

Once asked what UNIFEM represents in the UN system, Sharon said it was a pearl in the shell of an oyster: UNIFEM was like that small grain of sand 每 small but sharp, irritating, rubbing away, but at the end, out comes a pearl of great value. And that was what Sharon did with UNIFEM, she turned it into a pearl.

Sharon*s sense of strategy and leadership was noted during her time at UNIFEM, and in 1994, she was asked by my predecessor Gus Speth, to set up the Office of Evaluation and Strategic Planning inside UNDP. Here, helped by Carlos Lopez, she faced the Herculean task of bearing responsibility for the overall management of UNDP*s evaluation and planning functions, in particular, ways to monitor programme effectiveness and impact, to build what we now call a ※learning culture§ inside UNDP.

Now while Sharon formed the most extraordinary standards both at UNIFEM and UNDP, I think it was when she came to all of you at UNV that Sharon*s extraordinary talents as a visionary and leader met that full flowering. She had the vision to understand the great potential of the International Year of Volunteers in 2001, its potential to impact on development as well as on the volunteer movement around the world, and had she had the strength of leadership to ensure that the organization she ran was up to the task. The tremendous success of the International year of Volunteers is perhaps one of Sharon*s greatest legacies.

But if there is one thing about Sharon that we will all remember and celebrate, it was the human factor in her management and leadership style. She knew how to build trust and delegate authority; that was her style of empowerment. The exceptional warmth and compassion she showed in her relationships with colleagues across the UN family will be sorely missed. In particular, I think we*ll all remember the deep respect and empathy she displayed to UN Volunteers wherever she visited them in the field.

Sharon was graceful when she met with world leaders, and humble when she met grass roots ones.

And of course, to the very end, she fought her battle against cancer with dignity and vigor. I want to thank all of you here in UNV for being her second family.

I can*t imagine that Sharon would want to have passed on anywhere else except amongst all of you. The way you came out to meet her in her final months when she was so ill, making sure she continue her work, while at the same time, offering her such compassion and support. To everyone of you, I*d like to say thank you for just showing, if you like, the cultures and values that she has tried to build in you. You gave it back to her handsomely at the end. And I*m sure, wherever she*s looking at us now, she*s so proud of the way you handled her going and what she leaves behind, an organization of compassionate people who showed their compassion to Sharon, just as you show it everyday in the way you support and lead the work of UN Volunteers everywhere.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to her three sons, to her family and to her many, many friends, across the world.

Here today, we take comfort from being together to celebrate a woman of courage. A woman of vision; a planner, a team-builder, a fighter, a fund-raiser, a manager and a leader. But what we most celebrate is the wonderful person Sharon was 每 one of a kind.

Sharon 每 you leave behind an incredible legacy. I think we can all say we commit to continue your fight to help build a better world.

Her address to UN

Message by Sharon Capeling-Alakija Executive Coordinator United Nations Volunteers at the UN General Assembly Special Event on volunteering

5 December 2001

Check against delivery

Thank you, Mr. President,

On this day, 5 December 2001, many would say that we have reached the end of the road. Yes, this event marks the official close of the International Year of Volunteers, and millions of citizens from all walks of life and all regions of the world have reason to celebrate. But how can we even think of an ending on this historic day when the United Nations General Assembly is discussing volunteerism for the first time -- and is even devoting two plenary sessions to the issue? Today's debate is a milestone that we hope will foster support for volunteering at national and international levels in the years ahead.

At this very moment, we are turning down another road -- a freeway lit not only by the brilliance of the Year's success, but also by bright hopes for things to come. This day -- 5 December 2001, International Volunteer Day -- only marks the end of the beginning!

So before we move into the future, let's pause for a moment to take stock of all that has happened during the year. More than 200 IYV committees at the city, state and national levels to recognize and promote volunteering were formed. Extensive and effective publicity campaigns have been launched with stamps, flags, coins, posters, songs and widespread media coverage. The message of volunteering has been taken from villages to the tops of volcanoes. And it has been heard.

This past year, numerous national governments of the Member States represented here today, as well as the Council of Europe, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations itself have passed resolutions and enacted volunteer-friendly legislation.

At the instigation of the UN Secretary-General and under the leadership of the prominent volunteers we have just seen in the video that ABC television network kindly produced for us, UN organizations have also taken a closer look at the support they receive through volunteer contributions. Let me highlight just two examples out of the report on volunteering and the UN system that UNV is happy to distribute here today. Millions of farmers, fishermen, pilots and sea captains have assisted the World Meteorological Organization on a volunteer basis in collecting crucial information on weather conditions around the world. And in 2000 alone, 10 million volunteers, mostly local people, joined the global polio immunization campaign spearheaded by UNICEF and WHO that led to the protection of 550 million of the world's children.

It has been a privilege for us at the United Nations Volunteers programme to serve as focal point for IYV 2001. We have been inspired in ways too numerous to mention. Where we could, we have offered our support and acted as a hub of information. More than 20,000 volunteer-based organizations and individuals have registered on the IYV web site. This represents a huge, active constituency to shore up and advance the volunteer spirit all over the globe.

But there is still lots of work ahead. Now is the time to assess best volunteer practices and pull together: studies of national volunteerism, proposals for further pro-volunteer legislation and a strategic vision for a global network of volunteers which will play a central role in addressing the future needs of our societies around the globe.

Two weeks ago, an international symposium on volunteering brought together members of IYV national committees representing 98 countries. In their closing statement that I have been asked to bring to your attention, the participants expressed their deep appreciation to the UN General Assembly for declaring 2001 the International Year of Volunteers and they expressed their readiness to join forces in the years to come.

I would like to conclude my remarks by quoting from this statement, which is addressed to you, the delegates of the General Assembly: "Volunteers will be vital in meeting your goals and the volunteer movement is your ally and partner in the quest to meet the challenges of our times. We look to the General Assembly and Member States for further leadership in this regard."

Thank You!

Question to Sharon

Miss Sharon Capeling Alakija



Question:


Miss Sharon Capeling Alakija, in terms of communication perspective...

How would you describe relations between voluntarism and media in the current world system?

Answer:


I'm rather unbelieving of the role of the media and volunteering. The media has such a power for force, and it can be such a power for force for good. But let's face it, the media is not always such interested in good news stories. It's weather's tragedy, a crisis, a scandal... Well, that's what sounds for newspapers, that what lasts, that's what they told. So often the media is not really there to cover the spectacular work for the everyday work of heros around the world.

Perhaps because of the events on September 11th in New York city, where we saw, live on a television's screen, thousand of volunteers rushing to help in an emergency, people standing around blocks and lines, waiting for hours to get blood, people consulting the briefs, helping to remove bodies from the debries and so on. And because of the fact that New York is a media capital, perhaps for the first time people would be looking at voluntering in a very different way because volunteers certainly were the one's shaft of light in that terrible tragedy.

But mostly, when these things happen, the cameras are not there! Or, if they are there, let's take Hurricane Mitch when it happened in Central America, the cameras were there allright, but they were there to take pictures of the Ministers of development from the industrialized world who arrived in with a plane loaded of blankets and medecines and so on. They weren't there to take pictures of the Guatemelans, the El Salvadorians, the Nicaraguans and the Hondurians who were helping eachother...

And often this happens all over the world and it is really as a term we have learned this year, at the International Year of Volunteers...

It is below the waterline of visibility!

You know, people in the developping world are not just victims waiting for the next tragedy, for the next stand-up. They are just like people in the industrialized world, in tragedy, they put their best foot forward and help eachother as neighbours.

I think during this International Year of Volunteers though, I would bear a miss if I didn't mention for example institutions, newspapers like the New York Times or The Independant of the UK which devoted supplements to voluntering during this year, or the BBC, or Globo in Brazil or RAI in Italy who also devoted a lot of their airtime to worth this international Year of Volunteers and profiling volunteers.

I think it is a start and certainly I think for us and the United Nations Volunteers program, we see that one of our roles may be, in the years ahead, to find ways of working with the media to try and get these stories of these everyday heros in every society on the center stage where they belong.

Thank you.

Photo gallery Sharon

http://www.unv.org/infobase/events/East_Timor/Gallery2/index.htm


Tribute to Sharon Capeling-Alakija
from the
Staff Association, United Nations Volunteers

Presented by Michele Rogat at the Memorial Service
※ Celebration of a Life§, 11 November 2003

Phenomonal Woman
※Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I*m not cute or built to suit a fashion model*s size.
But when I start to tell them,
They think I*m telling lies.
I say,
It*s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I*m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That*s me.
Now you understand
just why my head*s not bowed.
I don*t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It*s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care.
& Cause I*m a woman
phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That*s me.§
by Maya Angelou

University of Vienna

SHARON CAPELING-ALAKIJA*S LIFE DRIVEN BY ※SENSE OF
SOLIDARITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE§, SECRETARY-GENERAL
SAYS AT MEMORIAL CEREMONY

NEW YORK, 5 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the Secretary-General*s remarks at today*s memorial ceremony for Sharon Capeling-Alakija:

I am moved to be with you all today to pay tribute to a beloved member of the United Nations family.  I am also pleased that her son Gavin, his wife Izumi and her grandson, Shola, are with us this morning.

Sharon Capeling-Alakija*s entire life was driven by a sense of solidarity and social justice.  From her upbringing in a landlocked and windy Saskatchewan, through her service in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, to her pioneering work as a senior official of the United Nations, Sharon was a natural citizen of the world inspired by a profound desire to help build better lives for others.

The ideals and principles of the United Nations were second nature to Sharon.  At the same time, she always found creative ways of combining that commitment with a practical ability to get things done.  As inspiring as she was inspired, she possessed a rare ability to motivate those around her, whatever their background, culture, or position.

At a time of unprecedented change in the world and in the role of the United Nations, Sharon had an instinctive grasp of the need for the Organization to reach out as widely as possible and engage people from all walks of life to join in our mission.  She brought that understanding to bear on all her work with us -- whether as Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers programme, Director of Evaluation and Strategic Planning at UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], or Director of the UN Development Fund for Women. The highly successful International Year of Volunteers she led in 2001 provided vivid testimony of the energy and enthusiasm she brought to that approach.

I think it helps us understand Sharon if we look at how she described the work for development.  She spoke of ※the need for the countries of the North and the South to work together and support each other -- very much like neighbours do§.  She said that to her, ※development cooperation is like a global quilting bee for the benefit of all in one world§.

From the day Sharon set out into the world as a young volunteer, to her final contribution as head of UNV [the UN Volunteers programme], this courageous woman never stopped quilting in the name of solidarity, for the benefit of all in one world.

Today, my thoughts and prayers go to Sharon*s family and loved ones, especially her sons Gavin, Matthew and Sean.  And Gavin, we are pleased you are with us today.  Sharon will be sorely missed, but she leaves a legacy of warmth.  It is a legacy that will continue to inspire her many friends in the United Nations family, as well as many thousands of UN Volunteers, past and present, around the world.

And I personally, shall miss hearing her call out ※Uncle Kofi§.  Now that she is gone, which other white-haired woman is going to call me Uncle Kofi?

NetAid

NetAid Mourns the Loss of Sharon Capeling-Alakija

November 07, 2003
NetAid Foundation, United States of America

NetAid joins with the United Nations family in mourning the loss of NetAid Board Member Sharon Capeling-Alakija, Executive Coordinator of United Nations Volunteers (UNV). Sharon died on 4 November in Bonn, Germany after a long battle with cancer.


※Sharon was a wonderful friend of NetAid, a visionary leader, and a tireless advocate for the power of volunteering,§ says NetAid President David Morrison. ※She will be greatly missed by the UN family, her fellow NetAid Board Members, and NetAid staff.§


Sharon served as the head of UNV since 1998 and was closely involved with NetAid since its inception, particularly through the Online Volunteering (OV) program, which is jointly managed by NetAid and UNV. Since its launch in 2000, OV has created a pool of 10,000 volunteers who use the Internet to offer their skills to non-governmental organizations working in 60 countries.


Prior to her work with UNV, Sharon served as the Director of the United Nations Development Programme*s Office of Evaluation and Strategic Planning. This position followed her stewardship of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) as their Executive Director, and a distinguished career at the Canadian Volunteer Sending Organization (CUSO) that included service in Togo, Tanzania and the Caribbean.


Along with her many friends and colleagues around the world, NetAid will miss Sharon*s inspiring leadership and support. We will also miss the energy, warmth and compassion that she brought to her work and her life.

2 O O 1
International Year
of Volunteers

STATEMENT BY


SHARON CAPELING-ALAKIJA
EXECUTIVE CO-ORDINATOR
UN VOLUNTEERS


ON THE OCCASION OF THE

54TH ANNUAL DPI/NGO CONFERENCE
NGOs Today: Diversity of the Volunteer Experience

(New York, 10th September 2001)



It is an honour to be here today to address this important assembly of NGOs with volunteering as its theme to coincide with the International Year of Volunteers 2001 (IYV). As focal point for IYV, we in the United Nations Volunteer Programme believe the title of this conference - Diversity of the Volunteer Experience - is highly appropriate. Through our contacts with International Year of Volunteer National Committees established in 127 countries in every region of the world, we are discovering that volunteering takes many forms and is expressed in various ways in different cultures. It can take the form of formal service delivery, mutual aid and self-help, activism or citizen engagement. I have no doubt that most of these manifestations of civic engagement are present in one way or another in all your organizations. There are, however, some fundamental characteristics of volunteering which I think we can all agree on. Voluntary action is freely undertaken and it serves the general public good. Its primary motivation is not monetary reward.

I would like to congratulate the organizers of this conference for having identified some key issues that are being addressed during IYV 2001 and for including them in the programme of the coming three days. I would now like to refer to some of them.

This afternoon you will be taking as your first topic the range of volunteer experiences around the world. One expression of the richness and health of volunteerism is indeed its diversity - it is found in the south as well as in the north. It is a characteristic of all segments of society. Whether in the public, private or voluntary sectors some form of voluntary action can almost always be detected. Voluntary action by the poor in particular, as a means of mitigating risks and coping with the effects of shocks, is being increasingly documented. Diversity does, however, present us with a major challenge from the point of view of vocabulary. In Bolivia it is referred to as Minga in East Africa as Harambee, in South Asia as Shramadana, and increasingly in the North as active citizenship or neighbouring. But the important thing is not the difference in terminology but rather that we recognize all manifestations of voluntary action, whatever form they may take, and that we consider the multitude of ways that volunteerism can be nurtured and encouraged. This is the subject that the General Assembly has chosen to address on 5 December this year.

You will also be looking at volunteerism within the United Nations. UNV has undertaken some research on this topic and the results of this work have been incorporated in the report of the Secretary General to the 5 December General Assembly meeting to which I have referred. An unedited version of this report has been made available to this conference. Our overall conclusion is that volunteering permeates almost every facet of the work of the United Nations. Whether in more obvious fields of health or environment, or in the less immediately apparent areas of the UN's effort such as meteorology or postal services, the review confirms the comment made by our Secretary General at the Opening of IYV on 28 November last year that volunteerism is the ultimate expression of what the United Nations is all about.

Let me reflect for a moment on one initiative of the UN - the successful immunization against polio last year of 550 million children. Some 10 million volunteers were involved in this WHO/UNICEF led programme. The many thousands of volunteers provided through NGOs such as Rotary International played a vital role - but we must not lose sight of the many millions of local people who volunteered their time often with little, or no, recognition. The total value of their contribution is estimated by WHO to have exceeded US$ 10 billion, a figure well beyond the reach of the governments or the UN. Whether volunteers are involved in operational work on the ground such as the example of the polio campaign, in advocacy in support of UN causes such as gender or the environment, or in fund raising such as effective efforts of UNICEF's National Committees, without their committed contributions the impact of the UN would be considerably diminished.

I have spoken of the polio eradication campaign about which the UN is, rightly, very proud. It would be remiss of me not to draw your attention to another initiative in the field of health to do with one of the main ways people volunteer in some countries. Tomorrow, in the presence of former South African President Nelson Mandela, an important international blood donor colloquium will open in Johannesburg. The theme of the colloquium is the enormous and often unrecognized ranks of voluntary non remunerated blood donors whose generosity and community spirit every year save millions of lives and empower health carers who would be helpless without an established supply of safe blood. Recognition also extends to the many ex donors who voluntarily accept to stop donating when their blood does not meet the criteria. Having to say "No" comes as a great blow to many who have donated blood for years, but voluntary exclusion from donating blood also saves many lives.

I would like to refer to yet another of your scheduled plenary sessions? that concerned with involving younger people as a means of strengthening volunteerism. This is clearly a vital issue that concerns us all whether in the UN or the NGO community. Youth are not the leaders of tomorrow. They are with us today and their views, their vitality and their creativity should be brought to bear in all our work. The Secretary General has stated that the very future of civic activism depends on how well you do in reaching out to young people. Within the framework of the International Year of Volunteers, we and many many others have worked hard to help ensure that the voice of youth is heard. Likewise, a great deal needs to be done to ensure that young people have access to meaningful volunteer opportunities, which will benefit society both today and in the longer term. Citizens who volunteer at a young age tend to volunteer through their lives. And to come back to the theme of this conference - diversity. We should ensure that it is not only the usual suspects who have the opportunity to volunteer. Access to volunteer action should be open to young people from lower income groups, from minorities, youth with disabilities and other young people who may be disadvantaged. Enhancing the policy environment to ensure young people can volunteer is perhaps one of the very best investments that any society can make.

The voice and actions of the organizations you represent play an important role in ensuring a vibrant and effective United Nations. At the same time, the spirit of volunteerism underpins much of your work. From our perspective, therefore, we will be following closely your discussions during this conference and expect to disseminate the results to the many thousands of organizations all over the world who are actively engaged in the International Year of Volunteers.

Thank you.

Something to Believe in: Creating Trust and Hope in Organisations
~Sharon Capeling-Alakija , Malcolm McIntosh , David Murphy , Rupesh Shah

Frame3



Press Release
SG/SM/9056



SHARON CAPELING-ALAKIJA*S LIFE DRIVEN BY &SENSE OF SOLIDARITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE*,


SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS AT MEMORIAL CEREMONY


Following is the text of the Secretary-General*s remarks at today*s memorial ceremony for Sharon Capeling-Alakija:


I am moved to be with you all today to pay tribute to a beloved member of the United Nations family.  I am also pleased that her son Gavin, his wife Izumi and her granddaughter, Sola, are with us this morning.


Sharon Capeling-Alakija*s entire life was driven by a sense of solidarity and social justice.  From her upbringing in a landlocked and windy Saskatchewan, through her service in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, to her pioneering work as a senior official of the United Nations, Sharon was a natural citizen of the world inspired by a profound desire to help build better lives for others.


The ideals and principles of the United Nations were second nature to Sharon.  At the same time, she always found creative ways of combining that commitment with a practical ability to get things done.  As inspiring as she was inspired, she possessed a rare ability to motivate those around her, whatever their background, culture, or position.


At a time of unprecedented change in the world and in the role of the United Nations, Sharon had an instinctive grasp of the need for the Organization to reach out as widely as possible and engage people from all walks of life to join in our mission.  She brought that understanding to bear on all her work with us -- whether as Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers programme, Director of Evaluation and Strategic Planning at UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], or Director of the UN Development Fund for Women.  The highly successful International Year of Volunteers she led in 2001 provided vivid testimony of the energy and enthusiasm she brought to that approach.


I think it helps us understand Sharon if we look at how she described the work for development.  She spoke of ※the need for the countries of the North and the South to work together and support each other -- very much like neighbours do§.  She said that to her, ※development cooperation is like a global quilting bee for the benefit of all in one world§.


From the day Sharon set out into the world as a young volunteer, to her final contribution as head of UNV [the UN Volunteers programme], this courageous woman never stopped quilting in the name of solidarity, for the benefit of all in one world.


Today, my thoughts and prayers go to Sharon*s family and loved ones, especially her sons Gavin, Matthew and Sean.  And Gavin, we are pleased you are with us today.  Sharon will be sorely missed, but she leaves a legacy of warmth.  It is a legacy that will continue to inspire her many friends in the United Nations family, as well as many thousands of UN Volunteers, past and present, around the world.


And I personally, shall miss hearing her call out ※Uncle Kofi§.  Now that she is gone, which other white-haired woman is going to call me Uncle Kofi?

Sharon Capeling-Alakija: Remembering A Life of Service

IWTC Women's GlobalNet # 237

Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide


SHARON CAPELING-ALAKIJA: REMEMBERING A LIFE OF SERVICE


Sharon Capeling-Alakija, former Executive Director of UNIFEM, died on

4th November 2003 in Bonn, Germany after a long and courageous battle

with cancer. IWTC joins women worldwide in mourning her untimely death.


Serving as UNIFEM's Executive Director from 1989-1994. Sharon worked to

put UNIFEM and women's rights solidly on the UN map and at UN tables.

She held a gender lens to mainstream issues such as the environment,

refugees, and human rights, and strongly advocated the idea that women's

rights are human rights. She also struggled to frame violence against

women as a legitimate focus of UNIFEM's efforts. She said if UNIFEM did

not speak of these issues, who in the UN would? She also raised millions

of dollars for the organization, which is an associate fund of UN

Development Programme (UNDP), and added immensely to the high profile it

continues to have today.


Following her work with UNIFEM, Sharon became Director of the Office of

Evaluation and Strategic Planning at UNDP's New York headquarters. She

held this post from April 1994 until December 1997. As part of her job,

she was responsible for the overall management of UNDP's results-based

evaluation and planning functions.


In 1998 Ms. Capeling-Alakija was offered the position of Executive

Director of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme. Based in

Bonn, Germany, UNV is widely regarded as the human face of UN peace and

development efforts. Working through a network of cooperating

organizations and UNDP country offices around the world, volunteers are

recruited each year to assist in the areas of poverty reduction,

community development, humanitarian relief, human rights, electoral

support, and peacebuilding processes.


"UNV also takes me full circle in my career," said Sharon in an article

available online at <http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca>. "I started in 1967 as

a volunteer with CUSO (formerly the Canadian University Service

Overseas) and will finish my career heading a program that sends over

5,000 highly qualified and dedicated volunteers from over 160 countries

around the world."


SPECIAL NOTE FROM IWTC:

UNIFEM and IWTC resulted from the first of the UN world conferences on

women, -the UN International Women's Year (IWY) World Conference and the

non-governmental IWY Tribune held in Mexico City 1975. Because of this

shared history, and in the full knowledge that the activities and

support of NGO women's groups and networks were essential if the UN was

to be successful in implementing the plans and platforms for women that

came from UN meetings, Sharon was a great supporter of IWTC and its

activities on behalf of women in the Global South. We, and NGO women

worldwide, mourn her loss very deeply and are grateful for her constant

support over a lifetime of international humanitarian service.


A celebration for the life of Sharon Capeling-Alakija will be held in

New York on November 17th, 2003.

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Additional information http://www.canadianclubregina.ca/sharon.html

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