05 December 2002
Numerous activities to mark International Volunteer Day (IVD) in Cameroon were organized by the Buea Urban Civil Society Organization Network (BUCSONET) and coordinated by Nkong Hill Top Common Initiative Group.
The two-day celebration, starting on 4 December, was initiated by a radio talk over Ocean Radio about "Volunteerism and Development" followed by a conference on "Volunteering for Development" at the Catholic Library Hall the next day.
Participating in the one-hour radio show were Mr. Anu Folefac Vincent, the delegate of Nkong Hill Top Common Initiative Group, and Mr. Ngi Benjamen, a Volunteer at the Catholic Library Molyko.
The conference was chaired by Rev. Dr. Frank. A, a Nigerian pastor, and moderated by Madam Eyong Beatrice, an animator with BUCSONET and delegates for Women with a Vision, a CIG in Buea. Among those who attended were university students from the University of Buea and other learning institutions in the country.
Rev. Frank said the act of volunteering is an expected attitude desired from everyone. That God has put in man something that always enable him to be kind. "Volunteering," he said, "is like saying `yes’ I want to be involved and responsible in another person’s life."
Studies on volunteering
Representatives from the organizers also presented studies on volunteerism. Anu Folefac Vincent of Nkong hill Top CIG presented his studies on volunteerism and benefits of volunteer work . Anu said his presentations were not publications of his personal findings, but findings of some important publications. He asked, "Why focus on volunteering?" Volunteering, he said, plays a significant part in the welfare and progress of the industrialized and the developing countries and is the basis of much of the activities of NGOs. On what volunteering is, he said it was "giving yourself to the needy. Thus, it requires a personal decision."
He also mentioned that opinions from volunteers say that volunteering is not primarily for financial reward. He did not however accept the fact that volunteering was solely for benevolence without reward. "A volunteer needs to eat at least," he added.
About the definition volunteerism, he said there was no standard one, but that it reflected various communities. He moved on to mention the different types of volunteering.
· Mutual aid or self-hel;
· Philanthropy or service to othes;
· Advocacy or campaigning, an example was campaign against landmines
On the benefits of volunteering, Anu said it need come from the people you are helping. Citing statistics, he said if you calculate all voluntary contributions, it will be eight to 14 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a nation. Still on the benefits, the following were listed.
· Promotes good governance through civic engagement;;
· Helps to integrate into society excluded or marginalized group;;
· Helps to integrating people considereduseless;
· Helps to promote full employmen;;
· Boosts self-confidence for job seeker;;
· Leads to creation of new jobs;;
· Provide access to workplace Networks;;
· Provide opportunity to develop specific Marketable skills
This was a critical issue it part of Anu’s presentation. He said for volunteering to be sustained, it needs much support. That it was our duty to enable this support to come. To have this, he said there was the need of the following:
· An effective support infrastructure;
· Government support-it was our duty to the governmen;
· The sector support.
The Chairperson of the conference raised an important question: “Why do we think volunteers do not often have support for their activities? A number of answers were given by participants.
· First that our society has still not yet regarded volunteerism as having a place;
· People are still ignorant about what it is all about;
· The chairperson added the issue of trust. That most governments and goodwill establishment mistrust some activities of volunteers, so the volunteers should work hard to establish trust in everyone.
About ignorance, participants suggested that mass awareness campaigns could be carried out through the radio. T.V, publications and conferences to create awareness about the need to volunteer. BUCSONET was called open to solder this responsibility.
Obstacles Of Voluntary Services
Ngi Benjamen of the Catholic Library Molyko enumerated some of the factors that hinder volunteer work:
· Lost of traditional values of good wil;l
· Lack of organizational structures;
· Inadequate skills by volunteers
· Fear of challenge in some institution
· Religious difference and suspicion
Eyong Beatrice of Women With a Vision gave a briefing on the United Nations Volunteers areas where the organization operates and how to become volunteers.
A major outcome of the conference was the opening of a Volunteer Register at the office of Nkong Hill Top Common Initiative Group. The delegate of Nkong CIG, Anu Vincent Folefac, encouraged the Youth and elderly to register themselves under this service and state their areas of interests. The registration, together with an information service, will be open to everyone and to institutions that need the services of volunteers.
The delegate of Nkong CIG specifically advised the young people to register."Volunteering could be on easy means to acquire job experience which every employer demands from prospection job seekers," he said.
Recognizing local volunteers
BUCSONET awarded certificates of merits and prizes to exemplary volunteers from different organisations for their outstanding voluntary activities.
Among those publicly recongised and appreciated were:
· Honourable Justice Chief Ayah Paul Abine who received three certificates and a prize for the appreciable work he does in his orphanage-Saint Valentine Orphanage in Buea Station;
· Njoyko Acha Alice of Muyuka received an award for her efforts to make sure the government stopped video clubs from projecting pornographic films;
· Teaching Patricia of Shalom InfoTech was appreciated for devoting many years and much time to moral up-bringing of kinds the empowerment of women and other good will intension;
· Zadock Mori of HOTPECC, Mile 14 was nominated and appreciated for the up-keep of orphans and disabled persons of HOTPECC, Mile 14;
· Nan Ibrahim of Great Soppo, Buea had an award for his endless fight to create awareness amongst the youth about the disease-AIDS;
· Samuel Mofor received an award from the management of Union Bank for giving some of his time and knowledge to the service of the community, especially in health campaigns.
Apart from these people, the voluntary services the Buea Red Cross Association are carrying were also recognized.
Read more about BUSCONET's IVD celebrations