21 December 2007
by Viola Krebs
Mali, like the international community, celebrated International Volunteer Day, under the joint hospices of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.
The official ceremony was held at the International Conference Centre, in presence of the Minister of Youth and Sports, the Resident Coordinator of operations of the United Nations system in Mali and the Resident Representative of UNDP, Representatives of UNICEF, UNFPA, the Mayor of the Commune III of the District of Bamako, persons in charge of ministerial departments, as well as members of pioneers and volunteer associations in Mali.
The theme of the ceremony this year in Mali was "Volunteering and the promotion of literacy". "This choice, declared Mr. Hamane Niang, the Minister of Youth and Sports, underlines the importance that the authorities are giving to training and reinforcement of human capacity".
For the first time since the proclamation in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly of the International Volunteer Day, the day has a patron in Mali, in the person of Mr. Adama Samassékou, former Minister of Education, President of the ICVolunteers Federation
and of the African Academy of Languages (www.acalan.org).
Designated by the coordinating committee of the event for his commitment in favour of volunteerism, at both the national and international levels, and of his efforts in the field of literacy, the patron of the celebrations was not lacking words to describe and characterize volunteerism: continuous dedication to a common cause, spade-work for the future, constant concern to accompany the other, commitment based on free will.
He was recognized for his commitment and enthusiasm by Mr. Joseph Byll-Cataria, Resident Coordinator of operations of the United Nations system in Mali who thanked him to have contributed to the success of the International Volunteer Day commemoration this year.
"Volunteerism is more and more recognized as a means for the creation of social capital and cohesion and contributing to human development", the Resident Coordinator added. He also expressed his thanks to the Malian authorities for showing their commitment by organizing the Day.
"The issue of literacy in Mali", run by Karim Traoré of the Canadian NGO SUCO and "Towards a volunteer programme for education" prepared by Kassoum Coulibaly of the Agence pour la promotion du volontariat au Sahel (APVS) were the themes presented during a discussion panel. At the end of the two inspiring presentations made in presence of the patron, the participants' reactions showed the great interest in the session.
Earlier, during the morning, the organizing committee accompanied by many volunteers, visited the Professional Training Centre of Missabougou, a structure that contributes to the promotion of literacy among young people from the interurban environment who are illiterate or left school early, through the fight against unemployment. The day before, two teams of volunteers had played a football match at the Modibo Keïta stadium.