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Korean volunteers and UNV join to mark first IVD in Myanmar
06 January 2010
by Ms. Yi Yi Thein, UNV Focal Point, UNDP Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar: International Volunteer Day (IVD) was celebrated together with World Aids Day celebrations at UNDP premises in Myanmar.

With the assistance of the UNDP Senior Programme Officer who is in charge of HIV/AIDS Unit, plus national and international UNV volunteers, I was able to organize successfully the IVD Day celebrations for the first time ever in Myanmar.

All UNV volunteers serving in Myanmar were informed and invited for their active involvement and participation.  During the period, the number of UNV volunteers in Myanmar as in December 2009 had fallen from a total of 27 in September 2008 to only 11 in November 2009.

There were only two UNV volunteers serving in Yangon, and the one serving with UNHCR had taken leave prior to IVD.  Nevertheless, there was a positive response from one national UNV volunteer Khin Pwint Oo serving in Mawlamyine, Mon State, who had just arrived back from receiving training in Bangkok, another national UNV volunteer Saw Terry, who is serving in Thandaung, Kayin State, one international UNV Patrick Muller from Switzerland, serving with UNDP in Yangon, and one ex-international UNV Benjamin Luz from the Philippines.

The immense support that I received from them heightened my spirits and was indeed enough for me to continue with the organizing of the IVD celebrations.  I had to understand that those national and international UNV volunteers serving in remote areas close to the borders in the west and north-east, would not be able to make it.

With the assistance from the UNV volunteers and notably one UNDP international staff, IVD posters, pictures of national UNV volunteers in action etc., were printed out and pasted on the three big boards and placed on the ground floor of the UNDP premises where everyone could see them.

Furthermore, in the UNDP reception room, the 'Seal the Deal; petition poster was put up on the wall with the related website opened on the laptop, ready for visitors and interested persons to register and sign online.

The two events commenced concurrently at 4 pm, with a few dances and some songs, followed by the welcoming speech at approximately 4:45 pm given by the UNHCR Representative followed by a brief speech given by the UNDP Senior Programme Officer, HIV/AIDS Unit, in the language of Myanmar.

The events were attended by invited guests and UN personnel, including special guests from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Korean Overseas Volunteers (KOV) whom I had invited.

In his speech, U Maung Maung Kyaw, UNDP Senior Programme Officer of HIV/AIDS Unit, talked about the commemoration of IVD, that it was celebrated for the first time based on the comments given last year by the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator.  

He urged the audience and the invited guests to stop by and take a look at the posters and pictures, and the film clips about volunteerism and volunteering, so that they gained some knowledge and understanding about volunteerism, which may induce them to apply for volunteering jobs and become UNV volunteers themselves someday.

The Korean Overseas Volunteers Coordinator, Mr. Li, from the KOICA arrived at UNDP premises with the two Korean Overseas Volunteers who are currently serving with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries.   Firstly, they were taken by the UNV Focal Point to the market place and food stalls organized by UNDP HIV/AIDS Section, and to the stage in front of UNDP premises to listen to the welcoming speech and to watch the first act on stage of some Burmese traditional and modern dances.

Afterwards, they were taken to the office of the international UNV volunteer Patrick Muller, who has been serving with UNDP Myanmar for almost two years, and on Patrick’s laptop, Mr. Li gave a presentation on volunteerism in Korea and the worldwide volunteering activities of KOVs in general.

Later, KOV volunteer, Koo Jiyeoun (with a Burmese name, Ma Ngu War - the name of a flower that blossoms in April), who is a veterinarian and is undertaking her volunteer assignment in Yangon with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, explained about her tasks regarding the protection and treatment of animal diseases, focusing especially on ‘foot and mouth’ disease.  

Mr. Li then explained about the computer training and technical assistance provided by the other KOV volunteer, Oh Tae Hwan (with a Burmese name, Ko Hein Htet) who is a computer technician to the local government officials in Yangon.

Afterwards, national UNV volunteer Khin Pwint Oo serving with UNHCR explained her activities as a Community Social Services Specialist in Mawlamyine and the achievements she and other national UNV volunteers had achieved.

After KOICA personnel and KOV volunteers left, the two national UNV volunteers assisted visitors and interested persons with the signing up online of the 'Seal the Deal' petition, while the UNV Focal Point explained about UNV to some interested visitors who wish to apply.  At least 50 persons, including several UNDP personnel, and Ms. Rosemarie De Souza, UNDP Deputy Country Director (Operations) signed the petition on the IVD Day, contributing to the increase in the total number.

People also stopped by to see the posters and pictures put up on the billboards in the corridor adjacent to the reception room.  Even after IVD, for promotion of volunteerism, these were displayed for a week.

The IVD Day, the first one ever in Myanmar, ended successfully at 7:45 pm.  However, for promotion of volunteerism, the posters and pictures on billboards were displayed for a week even after IVD.