16 December 2005, 14:41
by Fiel-Fraulein Bandekar
Volunteers say "cheers" as part of the Volunteers' Day celebrations at the International Trade Fair in Gambia, during the International Volunteer Day commemoration in December 2005. (Photo: UN Volunteers Gambia)
In Gambia, the IVD celebration spread through the week from 3rd December. The US Peace Corps, VSO and Gambia Red Cross Society joined UNV in organizing the events.
On 3rd December, together with the UN Volunteers, the volunteers of VSO, US Peace Corps, Gambia Red Cross Society, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), some UNDP staff members and invited guests celebrated IVD 2005 with a banquet at the Leybato Beach Resort in Banjul. The gathering gave the volunteers the opportunity to know each other, share experiences, exchange ideas and strengthen the volunteer networks.
The highlight of the night was the announcement and presentation of the “Volunteer of the Year” award. Moses Otu-Johnny (Textile Expert) and Alex Nyarko-Ayisi (Pottery Expert), both of Ghana, shared the honour. They are attached to the UNDP/ILO project’s Fight Against Social & Economic Exclusion (FASE).
Fatou Kinteh, FASE national coordinator, gave the citation and presented the certificate of appreciation. Alex and Moses were not informed ahead of their award, making the award night more memorable for all the volunteers.
The Volunteer of the Year award was initiated in Gambia during IVD celebrations in 2004 by UNV programme officer in Gambia, Fiel-Fraulein Bandekar, with a donated revolving trophy. The first awardee was Roseclair Charles of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for her exemplary achievement as Youth Trainer/Counsellor in the project ‘Strengthening the Response to HIV/AIDS at District Level’. The award seems to have motivated more volunteers to excel in their performance and bring greater value to the spirit of volunteerism. It is not a contest, but an overwhelming appreciation of the selected volunteer’s contribution to development in general.
On 5th December, the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) organized a Volunteers’ Day at the ongoing International Trade Fair, in cooperation with Yitbarek Tsegie, UNV Business Advisor with the GCCI.
Volunteers supported UNV-trained women groups who had put up display booths for their products ranging from textiles (tie-dye/batik), ready-made clothes, potteries, bee products, and soap to food items.
We also published as centrespread in the leading daily newspapers articles and photos contributed by volunteers on volunteerism.