Maria Lourdes Egydio Villela (Milú Villela) was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Voluntary Action and Basic Education in Latin America in recognition of her outstanding commitment to education and her attachment to its ideals and aims.
She is especially well-known throughout Brazil for her work with volunteer movements and youth. In 1994 she established Despertar (Wake Up), a community association offering technical and vocational courses for teenagers. Despertar also offers medical and psychological help and provides an income generation programme for adults which brings direct benefits to some 7,000 people every year.
In 1997, she founded the São Paulo Centre for Volunteers (CVSP), to encourage and train people to dedicate their time and talent for social improvement. Over the past three years, more than 50,000 volunteers have participated in the Centre`s activities.
In 2001, she coordinated the United Nations International Year of Volunteers in Brazil, and currently heads Faça Parte (Be Part of It), a non-governmental organization encouraging volunteer work, especially among young people, for the benefit of schools throughout the country.