05 December 2006
by Catherine Cecil
Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Youth Star Cambodia
joins thousands of volunteers worldwide in celebrating International Volunteer Day today by recognizing the contribution of volunteers throughout Cambodia.
“Youth Star was founded on the idea that volunteers can make a profound difference to society,” said Youth Star co-director Ms. Eva Mysliwiec. “This year our volunteers have joined together with people in their communities to show us how much volunteers can accomplish, so we have a lot to celebrate.”
The theme of Youth Star’s celebrations this year is "Citizenship in Action". All 37 of the organization’s volunteers who are currently serving have organized service projects demonstrating this theme. The volunteers engaged people in their communities in a wide range of activities, including:
- Planting trees and vegetables, and cleaning up the local environment
- Raising funds to keep a vulnerable student in school
- Staging community theater presentations with messages on preserving forests and wild animals, and on domestic violence
- Helping youth start aquaculture/ fish farming projects
- Hosting a “walk to school” with people throughout the community – young and old – to demonstrate their commitment to keeping children in school
- Organizing a painting competition by school children in Kampi about protecting the environment for river dolphins
- Launching public education campaigns with original drawings by children focusing on oral hygiene, public health matters and taking care of the environment
- Hosting a picture fair on volunteerism.
Today the volunteers are celebrating these achievements in local celebrations in communities in Kampong Cham, Kratie and Prey Veng. “These volunteers are truly citizens in action,” said Ms. Mysliwiec.
Youth Star is also participating in a national celebration in Phnom Penh co-hosted by international and local volunteer groups. The celebration features entertainment and remarks by Mr. Douglas Gardner, UN Resident Coordinator; HE Kol Pheng, Minister of Education; HE Chea Samnang, UN Population Fund and Youth Star volunteer Ms. Mak Sreyny, among others.
“I am pleased to tell you that the volunteer spirit is strong in Cambodia, and getting stronger all the time. When I began my work, I tutored and mentored children and adolescents. But now we have trained older children to be tutors for younger children,” said Ms. Sreyny. “And when people in my village realized that Youth Star volunteers had to rely on borrowing space to work with our youth clubs, they all joined together to build us a community school.”
Ms. Sreyny noted that volunteering has benefited her as well. “Working with children and farmers is a rich experience. I have learned to be a good community worker, and this will help me in my future positions. Now I am more courageous, and more confident,” she said. “My fellow Youth Star volunteers are proud to see what we can do for our communities, and grateful for the active participation of our community partners and friends.”
Ms. Sreyny also lauded private sector support for volunteering, particularly from the ANZ Royal bank. The bank is celebrating International Volunteer by providing flyers promoting volunteerism at ATMs, and organizing a volunteer day for employees to help repair and maintain a local hospital.