Commemorating United Nations Day & Human Rights Day

Carol Parker, vice chair of our Altrusa International Relations committee, gave an informative and inspiring presentation at our December 4, 2007 meeting about Altrusa, the United Nations, and Human Rights.

The complete text of her presentation can be read or downloaded here.

Some of her key points:

Carol contacted one of Altrusa’s UN Representatives and learned that Altrusa is a dues paying member of the Commission on the Status of Women and also of the UN Association of the USA. As an NGO (non governmental organization) Altrusa is attached to the Council of Economic and Social Affairs and the Department of Public Information. Altrusa has 3 active representatives who try to cover as many committees as possible. We have presences on the NGO committees for UNICEF and the UN Trust Fund for Women as well as the Migration Committee. Our representatives attend weekly briefing held by the Department of Public Information.

In 1946, Altrusa was the very first international classified service club to have an official observer appointed to the United Nations.

In 1978, Altrusa received consultative status with UN, the most prestigious category of status for NGOs. This status is for NGOs whose competence enables them to make occasional and useful contributions to the work of the United Nations and who are available for consultation upon request. We can be proud that Altrusa falls within this category.

Eleanor Roosevelt, an Altrusan, served as chairman of the Commission on Human Rights at the UN, and was one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Here are a few of the projects ASTRA and Altrusa have been engaged with that speak directly to basic human rights:

We have supported several projects in Nepal, one the poorest nations on earth. We have populated a school with much needed books and sent many duffel bags of shoes and clothing to very poor villagers. ASTRA funded a teacher for a year in Nepal, whose ongoing efforts have afforded many village children the education needed to pass the entrance test for higher education. ASTRA funded a Nepali infant nutrition program that retrieves babies from the brink of death because of basic nutritional deficiencies.

Altrusa funded the development of educational materials for a project of HM International that seeks to empower villagers in Zimbabwe.

Last year Altrusa funded water filters in Mexico. ASTRA funded orphans in Uganda one year and a child soldier rehabilitation project there last year.

Our impact is not only being felt by the international community but right here in Montrose as well. How are we combating poverty here? By providing Buddy Bags to at risk youth, by funding numerous projects with the Resource Center and Safe House; by providing 1000’s of books to disadvantaged children through our Seasons Readings program, through ASTRA’s provision of nearly 100 emergency supply boxes for Social Service kids; and even by supplying Life Line units to the elderly, many of whom live on fixed incomes.

And so as we remember United Nations Day and Human Rights Day, I feel honored to be part of an organization that values peace, human dignity, education for all, and works to combat the effects of poverty and illiteracy worldwide…..and I hope you do as well.