For A Change, Good News About A Young Pinoy
How a computer geek is trying to make a difference - and win awards for it.
While everyone thinks that young people today are jus into a lot of senseless stuff without any care in the world, neither are they interested in doing anything productive - someone pops up who does not fit the stereotype.
Angelicum Oda is not your regular 18-year-old. One can say that he has accomplished a lot of things and he's not even in his 20s. Spending Saturday Afternoon with Angelicum, you would not even believe that he's only 18 because of the way he talks and the ideas he comes up with. He has received numerous awards in web development and traveled all over the globe to places like South Africa, Jamaica, the UK, Canada, you name it. And the travel offers are still coming - thanks to his determination and belief that young people can still make a difference.
It all started years back, Angelicum, Angel to his friends, was bored manning their internet cafe when he stumbled upon a United Nations volunteer site. Wanting to be idle no more, he signed up and got in. "I realized with my present knowledge on web-developing, I could actually help NGOs." Angel said.
It was in 2002 when he was invited by a local UN Country Office to a youth summit. The volunteers were thinking of a themes for that year, a theme for young people to get more involved and become socially aware.
Angel added "Different ideas came out, finally, the UNV country coordinator suggested 'MDGs and Youth for the theme. To her surprise, only two or three out of almost 30 people inside the room knew about the MDGs, I didn't know what the MDGs were."
MDG is Millennium Development Goals. Back in 2000, the UN, with 189 heads of state, wrote down eight goals to be achieved by 2015. The eight goals centered on poverty, education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, environment and lastly global partnership. It came as no surprise that quite a number of people, including myself did not know what MDG was. When I first heard about it, the first though that came up to my mind was that it sounded more like food seasoning (MSG, that is).
Angel was inspired when the UN coordinator explained to them what the MDGs were. He said "Realizing how unsuccessful the dissemination of information on the MDGs in our country was, she also stressed that we, the youth are the key contributors for achieving the goals, but how will we be able to help if we don't have any knowledge about the MDGs in the first place?"
His creative juices were in full swing when the idea to start an MDG website for kids came up. Actually if onew visits the site, one gets instantly familiarized with the MDG goals, sort of like an MDG for dummies. "Who wants formal-sounding explanations anyway? Young people easily get bored and the issue of MDG is so important that we have to find ways to make these people interested about reading an MDG site. That's why we are developing the "Young MDG" website in a way that it will be colorful and interactive," Angel said.
The idea of creating the site is really basic but the repercussions are immerse. "Knowing that the new generation of young people can maximize and minimize IE windows and surf the net for cool games before their moms stop spoon-feeding them. I first and foremost believed that if there should be a medium to publish an educational material for children around the world, it is the web."
Now that the website is in full swing, he has received awards and recognition from international bodies. Most recently was last March when Angel was one of the 13 winners in the Childnet Academy Awards held in Jamaica.
But this is just the start. By the end of the month he will attend the UN and Youth Assembly in New York -- the perfect opportunity to promote his advocacies. In September he flies to San Francisco to attend ThinkQuest Live Awards sponsored by Oracle since his website won second place out of 327 entries, an all-expense-paid trip with chaperon - who says computer geeks can't have all the fun? All this success and he is not even in college yet.
But this was not a solo venture. Since the MDG awareness is a global issue, Angel is with a team of young people from Egypt, Jamaica, the US etc. Their work does not stop in doing the site alone. They are continuously researching and finding new ways for us common folk to help promote social changes.
What's next for Angelicum? "Further steps are actual projects targeting each of the goals. A good example is that of Goal-7 of MDGs which is about environment. We will have a separate sire for this project, basically aiming to let teenagers realize and know their responsibility for the environment and be involved with tree-planting activities in their communities," Angel notes. And they would also be producing pamphlets about the MDGs to penetrate a much wider crowd especially those who do not have internet access.
Despite the storm clouds of instability that hover our country in recent times, it is a good thing there are still ideal Pinoys who refuse to just sit and grumble but trying to do something to help us feel good about ourselves.
For more information about the MDGs check the website at www.youngmdg.com.