IBE Volunteer Award winner 2007
With pleasure President Susanne Lund announced the worthy winner of the IBE Volunteer Award 2007 as Mrs Margaret Fandiño-Merz, during the crowded General Assembly on Wednesday July 11th in Singapore.
The Volunteer Award, introduced in 2006 is a means of recognising the efforts of lay volunteers working with IBE member associations to improve the quality of life for people with epilepsy. Through the award, IBE hopes to highlight the dedication and selflessness of volunteers who work without financial award.
The award, which was presented in Singapore for the first time, will be presented biennially, at the time of the International Epilepsy Congress, to an individual who has worked voluntarily at national level. To qualify for nomination each candidate must be a member of the nominating association, but cannot be a member of staff or a paid volunteer. No member of the IBE International Executive Committee or Regional Executive Committee may be nominated and those who are considered for the award must have a long record of activities promoting a better quality of life for people with epilepsy.
All nominations for the Volunteer Award 2007 were considered by the International Executive Committee in March 2007, following which a secret ballot was held to select the winner. Between selection in March and presentation of the award in July, the identity of the winner was kept a close secret.
So it was quite a surprise to all when Susanne Lund announced the name of the winner and invited Mrs Fandiño-Merz to receive a special plaque, inscribed with her name, which is part of the award.
Mrs Fandiño-Merz was nominated by the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of People with Epilepsy (FIRE) and the Colombian League Against Epilepsy.
Born in Switzerland, Mrs Fandiño-Merz moved to Colombia in 1965 following her marriage to Dr Jaime Fandiño-Franky and for the past 42 years has been a volunteer with the local association. She was a founder member of both the Colombian League Against Epilepsy and FIRE (IBEs Full Member in Colombia).
Mrs Fandiño-Merz has worked steadfastly for people with epilepsy in her adopted country and was proactive in helping people living in the streets who had epilepsy to receive treatment and care. She was also instrumental in the foundation of the first out-patient clinic for people with epilepsy in Cartagena.
Using her connections in Europe, a program for the provision of low-cost AEDs was set up through MEDEOR in Germany. MISSIO, another German charity, provided funds towards the purchase of a car, which is used to bring people with epilepsy to the clinic in Cartagena.
In Switzerland, the Swiss Epilepsy Centre (an IBE Associate Member), through Dr Christoph Pachlatko, is providing ongoing support to meet education costs for children from underprivileged homes who have epilepsy.
Mrs Fandiño-Merz continues to work tirelessly to support children with epilepsy and cognitive problems and has also received training from Prof Harry Meinardi in the Netherlands to help her in this important task.
Mrs Fandiño-Merz was responsible for the first National Epilepsy Congress in Colombia, which now takes place every two years. She is also an organiser of the Colombian Epilepsy Award, which is presented to young researchers in medical and rehabilitation areas.
I am sure that you will agree that Mrs Fandiño-Merz is a worthy recipient of the Volunteer Award and IBE wishes her every success with her great work in the future.
The next IBE Volunteer Award will be presented in 2009 at the General Assembly due to take place at the 28th International Epilepsy Congress in Budapest, Hungary. An invitation for nominations will be circulated in the middle of next year.