03 February 2009
Kathmandu, Jhapa and Damak, Nepal:
As well as a street cleaning campaign, UNV cooperated with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) and local NGOs in Kathmandu to distribute books to orphan children.
UNV volunteers visited an orphanage, the Buddhist Child Home, together with the staff members of a local NGO and presented books, DVDs and cassettes donated by well-wishers to enrich the library and resource centre of the home. The volunteers spent a few hours with children playing and talking. Then, a small programme was held during which the head of the orphanage and UNV made speeches and the children sang and played a local song on 'the right to bloom'.
There were also events in the Bhutanese refugee camps of eastern Nepal as part of the 16 days activism campaign in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) The title was 'Have an honest heart, give a hand and be a volunteer'.
An audio tape was made prior to International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December, in which volunteers' views concerning volunteerism in the refugee community were recorded. This was played on a sound system during the 16 days activism campaign and leading up to IVD in all seven camps.
On IVD, mass rallies to promote volunteerism and acknowledge the work of refugee volunteers in the community were organized in each camp including cultural processions (Jhanksi) and participants carried placards and banners highlighting the importance of volunteerism. Approximately 1,500 people participated in each camp. As the rally marched through the camps, there were thousands more observing.
A stage programme was conducted in a central area in each camp for songs, dances and dramas performed by refugees. Prizes funded by UNV County Office Nepal were awarded to the best performers. In addition, longstanding volunteers in the refugee community were presented with a certificate and a UNV T-shirt.
Speeches were also delivered throughout this programme by representatives from UNHCR, its partner organizations and by UNV volunteers. Approximately 1,200 people attended each camp's stage programme with another 100 involved in some respect in the programme. During the event, volunteers and refugee community members wrote messages on a 6 metre banner in each camp, inaugurated by the UNV volunteers, and the banners are currently being displayed in each of the camp’s Camp Committee Offices.
Through these events, UNV volunteerss attempted to raise awareness about the importance of volunteerism. Furthermore, all events gave encouragement to participants particularly those who live in less fortunate conditions (orphans and refugees in the camps). In Damak, the contribution of refugee volunteers was recognized and appreciated.
Communication and a collaborative relationship with local Government, as well as other volunteer sending agencies, were promoted. This extended network can be sustained and beneficial for future UNV activities.
Volunteers have a better understanding of the situation of the lives of people in need and the functions of the organizations supporting them (specifically refugee camps and orphanage). Awareness among participating organizations and the local communities of the role and responsibility of UNV and UNV volunteers was increased.
Partners involved included:
Book donation: EQUAL ACCESS, Himal Rights, Nepal National Library, READ Nepal, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF, UNDP, UNCHR, and UNESCO.
Bhutanese Refugee Camps: Representatives from UNHCR Sub-Office in Damak, and its partner NGOs (AMDA, Caritas Nepal, Lutheren World Federation-LWF) as well as colleagues from IOM and WFP in attendance. Also, camp secretaries, head teachers and community-based organizations were represented.