by: Avalumun Kaa & Roderick Warakula
21 October 2023 - ATO launched its virtual conference to commemorate its 20th anniversary via Zoom which was attended by organization officers, project members, and other participants through a YouTube livestream.
Mr. Richard Rioja, the ATO President, gave an inspiring opening speech, which kicked off the conference on a high note. He set the tone for the event by reminiscing on the incredible journey of the organization. He reiterated that it is an appropriate time to commemorate two decades of turning that ambition into reality. He also added that while the virtual conference is also a moment of celebration he also mentioned that the organization calls for peace and justice amidst the ongoing conflict in Palestine and Israel which took the lives of thousands, for that he called for participants to observe a moment of silence.
The event had an outstanding line-up of speakers. Ms. Merima Smajic of Ajou University Graduate School of International Studies in South Korea gave the keynote address. She discussed the role of civil society organizations in a shifting global landscape. She began with an intriguing statement, "As the world evolves, it is critical to recognize the vital role that civil society organizations play in shaping the future," which sets the tone for discussions.
The event's major highlight was the conferment of honorary membership to the distinguished 11 ATO members who have been with the organization for a significant amount of time and have contributed to its success. "It is the dedication and passion of our members that has brought us to this milestone," said Anne Ascaño, the ATO Vice President and the Chairperson of the organization’s Membership Committee. “We appreciate your zest, zeal, and all-out support,” she added.
This has been a valuable learning experience for everyone, with a significant influence over the past twenty years and promising prospects for the future. The ATO's journey from inception to its twentieth anniversary is a testament to the community's dedication to positive social transformation.
The ATO's emphasis on the increasing potential for innovation and sustainability highlights the importance of staying flexible and embracing change.
This outstanding occasion serves as a poignant reminder of the progress we have made thus far. Our gratitude goes to the unwavering support of our dedicated team members. The organization anticipates the attainment of further milestones, as well as overcoming more challenges and struggles in the future. This is corroborated by the words of late Nobel Peace Laureate, Nelson Mandela who said, "Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead."