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Volunteers given recognition in Almaty
02 December 2004

Almaty: From press conferences to lectures, this year’s International Volunteer Day (IVD) celebrations were held in the symbolic “House of Friendship” on 2 December in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The venue represents the consolidation of various nations and cultures and thus epitomized one of the key principles of volunteerism in the country.

The festival began with a press briefing, informing the media about IVD’s agenda. It was followed by the opening of a job fair.

Over 30 organizations participated in the volunteer job fair and attracted students from the Institute of International Professions and Kazakh-American University. The exhibition was to display non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs) projects where prospective volunteers could find vacancies in a range of professions, including social workers, lawyers, journalists and guides for art galleries.

Having practical experience is invaluable when starting out in professional employment and what better way to showcase your skills then through volunteer work. As Zukhra Turganbay, Director Crisis Centre Zabota pointed out, “For young and for future specialists, having practical of working with real people, solving real problems is probably better than knowing only theory”.

The job fair also gave volunteers the chance to share their experiences of working with NGOs. Dinara Kiyalova works for Red Crescent distributing humanitarian aid, clothes and even cooking for charity lunches. Although she earns no money for her hard work, Dinara told of how she enjoyed helping people and how much satisfaction she gained from it.

Dinara was later recognized for her work with Red Crescent at a special award ceremony to congratulate volunteers. Almaty-based NGOs also nominated 77 of there most active volunteers and awarded them with Certificates of Appreciation on behalf of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme and diplomas for Red Crescent representatives.

Distinguished companies were also awarded with Certificates of Appreciation. These went to Volunteer House Soros Kazakhstan, Charity Fund “Kus zholi” and International Academy of Information. UNV recognized these companies for their support of the development of volunteerism and commitment to charity in Kazakhstan.

Volunteers at the awards ceremony showed that you can do it at any age, with the youngest volunteer at 15 and the oldest more than 80 years old. The ceremony closed with entertainment from the Turkish Cultural Centre.

The day concluded with an exclusive presentation of the “Volunteers of Kazakhstan” website by the Volunteer House Soros Kazakhstan.

This was followed by lectures on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) led by NGO representatives. The Women Crisis Centre “Podrugi”, for example, presented “Volunteerism and Gender Equity”; the Resource Centre Eco-Forum presented “Ecology and Volunteerism”; PSI central Asia presented “Prevention of HIV / AIDS and Development of Volunteerism”; and the Volunteer House Soros Kazakhstan presented “Features of working with volunteers”.

The IVD celebrations in Almaty were organized by UNV, Volunteers House Soros-Kazakhstan, Zhalgas Counterpart, NGOs’ Council of Almaty city, International Academy of Information, Peace Core, PSI Central Asia, Cooperation Centre “Meridian”, in collaboration with UNDP, Kazakhstan’s Nations’ Assembly and “ARGO” Association.

From: UN Volunteers Kazakhstan