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Bringing joy to tsunami victims in Indonesia
04 December 2006

Banda Aceh, Indonesia: More than 100 people, many of them affected by the 2004 tsunami,  participated in a ‘Volunteer Awareness Campaign’ organized by United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in Banda Aceh on 2 December. The event coincided with International Volunteer Day (IVD), celebrated every 5 December, a date proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985 to bring together volunteers from all walks of life, and draw attention to their important contributions to social development and peace building.

The event included an open dialogue at the national NGO TRIBAL’s headquarters, where UNV volunteers shared their experiences with a group of Acehnese women currently undertaking an alternative livelihood programme. Representatives from other non-governmental organizations, including Aceh Relief and Pulih, also attended the event.

“It’s important to show appreciation to the work that volunteers carry out because this will strengthen that same volunteer spirit within the local communities,” TRIBAL’s Project Coordinator, Mutiara Simanjuntak, pointed out.

UNV volunteer Aishah Moho Amin explained the importance of the contributions she has made to her host agency UNIFEM by working as a Reporting and Information Officer. UNV volunteer John Constance from Liberia promoted volunteerism by elaborating on its benefits and what it has brought into his life.

“In 16 years I had never worked without a salary,* but then I decided it was important to share my knowledge as a volunteer. It takes almost three days to reach Indonesia from where I come but I thought people would appreciate this effort and feel encouraged not only to volunteer abroad but in their own countries,” John explained.

Edy Fradinata, Ruhama Ahdy and Sarip Aklan backed up John’s comments by sharing their own experiences while working as national UNV volunteers.

“You are most welcome to apply to become a UNV volunteer,” Sarip said. “I myself have been able to contribute my skills as Programme Assistant and try to ensure that when the UNDP project I work for ends, the beneficiaries will stand by themselves.”

But if participants felt encouraged during the morning session by the advantages of volunteerism, the playful environment that reigned during the afternoon event held at the ‘Yayasan Penyantun Islam Stui’i' orphanage certainly showed the most friendly side of volunteerism.

After conveying her message on the importance of volunteerism, UNV Project Coordinator SKL Walia and other UNV volunteers, showed almost 80 orphans how to carry out some group activities. These included decorating containers that would later be filled with toiletries donated by the Aceh-based UNV volunteers.

Group songs and dances were performed after IVD packs containing UNV background information in Bahasa Indonesia were handed out to the orphans.

*UNV volunteers receive living allowance.