14 December 2005
by Karma Choden
With the theme, ‘Everyday is a volunteer’s day: Have you volunteered today?’, local and international volunteers working in Bhutan joined the world to recognize and celebrate the ‘unsung heroes’ of the world on International Volunteer Day on 5 December in Thimphu.
The Royal Civil Service Commission secretary, Dasho Bap Kesang, who was the chief guest, also launched the Volunteers in Bhutan (VIB) calendar and distributed cash prizes to the winners of the photo competition on the theme “volunteerism in beautiful Bhutan’.
With the mission to spread the spirit of volunteerism wide, the members of VIB distributed UNV ballpoint pens, balloons, and key holders among other things to school students in Thimphu.
Citing the example of woola (voluntary work), the UNV programme officer in Bhutan, Ilona Leskinen, said that traditional forms of volunteerism existed in Bhutan since historical times. “It’s just that more opportunities need to be created through volunteerism to involve people in the development of their own communities,” she said.
According to the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, the year 2005 had witnessed unforeseen number of natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. “The past year’s natural disasters have highlighted the invaluable contributions of volunteers in our communities,” he said. “They have volunteered their time, energy and skills to save lives and rebuild communities.”
There are about 65 international volunteers currently involved in different sectors in Bhutan. About 17 Bhutanese volunteers are serving abroad as UNVs in post conflict areas like Kosovo, Afghanistan, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Eritrea.