03 December 2004
International Volunteer Day (IVD) is being celebrated worldwide on 5 December with a thrust this year to highlight the volunteers’ contribution to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Goals are a set of global objectives which include halving poverty, ensuring education for all, curbing HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation by 2015.
IVD provides an opportunity for volunteer-involving organizations and individual volunteers to work together on projects and campaigns promoting their contributions to economic and social development at local, national and international levels. It is also an occasion to recognize volunteers’ contribution to development and celebrate the spirit of volunteerism.
To date, more than 60 countries are known to be commemorating IVD this year. The celebrations occur in many forms – from giving recognition to volunteers to advocating laws that promote volunteerism.
In Trinidad and Tobago, for example, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme will launch a film documentary highlighting the work of more than 70 volunteers in the fields of medicine, ICT and engineering, and their contributions in achieving the Goals.
In Manila, a month-long IVD celebration has been organized by UNV Philippines and civil society groups, with activities including a photo exhibition, a roundtable discussion on “Volunteering and Peace”, and opening of a mural done by volunteer artists.
In Pakistan, international experts with diverse backgrounds in development and volunteerism will gather from 5 to 7 December to share views and discuss actions to enhance volunteer contributions to the MDGs. Discussion sessions will also focus on the resources needed to further strengthen the impact of voluntary action on MDG-related activities. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz, will open the conference on 5 December.
International and local volunteers in Burkina Faso are biking throughout the country over three weeks, aiming to cover 785 kilometres, to create awareness on preventing HIV/AIDS.
In the Albanian capital Tirana, civil society groups will bring the “Circus” to children from poor backgrounds and a ceremony recognizing young volunteers’ work in the country. There will be live radio and television discussions on volunteering, women volunteers and development in the regions of Kukes and Fier.
In Mauritius, several activities are lined up for 16 days to celebrate women and volunteerism. President Sir Anerood Jugnauth will grace the “Creole festival”, a full-day event with dances, music and discussions on volunteering.
Youth with mental handicap are gathering in the Indian capital of New Delhi to clean the polluted river Yamuna, which is the city’s lifeline. Among other activities will be a volunteers’ carnival where youth will discussion the topic of “Youth against Violence on Women” and enact street plays highlighting young volunteers’ role in preventing violence on women.
“On the road to 2015, every action counts,” says Ad de Raad, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, in his message for IVD this year. He stresses on strengthening global volunteering to help achieve the MDGs, emphasizing that the work of volunteers worldwide in attaining the Goals is crucial.
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, adds to it in his message: “The strength of volunteerism is its universality – the countless acts of solidarity and assistance that take place every day, in developed and developing countries alike. There is no right or wrong way to volunteer. All that is needed is a willingness to share time, a skill or a good idea.”
As Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, points out, we are “a third of a way to the 2015 deadline of the MDGs… The contributions that ordinary men, women and children all over the world make to development through voluntary action, both as individuals and through organizations, are a critical foundation on which we have to build if the Goals are to be attained.”
Last year, IVD events were held in more than 125 countries, with over 70 countries illustrating how volunteers have helped in accomplishing the MDGs.
Read messages from:
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General
Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP Administrator
Ad de Raad, UNV Executive Coordinator
From: UN Volunteers