05 December 2003
In celebration of International Volunteer Day (IVD), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme launched a booklet, "Helping people cope: UN Volunteers support disaster mitigation" on 5 December.
The booklet is aimed at documenting UNV's support to disaster management and vulnerability reduction and focus on the partnerships UNV in this area. The booklet's objective is to create awareness, share experiences and promote volunteerism to society.
Nearly 60 participants from the Indian government agencies, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations and donors agencies participated during the launching.
The UN Resident Coordinator and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Dr. Maxine Olson spoke on the value-added and the contributions made by UN Volunteers to UNDP's programmes. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's message for IVD was delivered by the director of UN Information Center (UNIC) Mr. Fedor Starcevic. The Joint Secretary, Disaster Management of the Ministry of Home Affairs Mr. RK Singh and the Joint Secretary, Youth Affairs of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Ms. Vandana Jena released the booklet.
The Joint Secretary, Youth Affairs of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports made a presentation on the Volunteer schemes of the Government of India, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) and the National Service Scheme (NSS). She also mentioned the contributions of these two big schemes (8 million and 2 million of volunteers respectively) to disaster relief and mitigation work in various affected areas of the country. The adviser, CII Mr. N.B. Mathur spoke about the contribution of corporate volunteerism to disaster relief, particularly during the earthquake in Gujarat.
After the event, the UN Volunteers and UNDP staff planted a Neem tree in memory of the late Sharon Capeling-Alakija, Executive Coordinator of the UN Volunteers programme who passed away on 4 November 2003. The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Olson made a speech on Ms. Capeling-Alakija's vision and mission in the UN system. She also stressed how the drive for challenging missions moved Sharon to head UNV. "She has been able to make the UN Volunteer a world-known organization thanks to the big success of the IYV" Dr. Olson added. Thirty UN Volunteers and staff members spread chrysanthemum and marigold flower petals on the new-planted Neem tree.