05 January 2006
This is the second year that Service For Peace has promoted the International Volunteer Day (IVD), celebrated every 5 December, through its global network.
Research studies have shown that volunteerism encourages and supports democratic values, gender equity, entrepreneurship and ownership as well as addressing basic human needs for literacy, education, safe drinking water and nutrition. Through promoting IVD in partnership with other NGOs throughout the world, Service For Peace seeks to expand the awareness of the work of the United Nations Volunteers programme, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other UN initiatives.
Altogether, SFP held IVD projects in 10 nations involving more than 4,600 volunteers and participants worldwide. Here are summaries of the celebrations:
Chinisau, Moldova: Volunteer Festival
SFP Moldova, the National Commission for UNESCO and the General Directorate of Education, Science, Youth and Sport combined to hold the 3rd annual Volunteer Festival as a part of IVD. The festival promotes volunteering in Moldova and publicly rewards the efforts of volunteers from different non-governmental organizations (NGOs). An NGO exhibit showed the audience new ways they could volunteer.
The festival started with greetings from UNESCO, the Sports Ministry and SFP, followed by songs, dances and celebration. During the awards ceremony, Association “Motivatie” (Motivation) was named NGO of the year for their work to socially integrate children with physical and mental challenges.
Elena Iaz, president of Chisinau Children and Youth was awarded “Most Active Volunteer of 2005” and the “Best Essay Award” went to Victoria Morozov with the essay theme “The role of Volunteering Activities in Peace Culture Establishment”; she’s a volunteer with Save the Children and National Scouts.
Volunteers from different NGOs, colleges and university students, among other guests, attended the event.
Tokyo, Japan: Volunteer Culture Festival (VCF)
The 3rd annual VCF was held in Tokyo, 2-4 December to promote volunteerism and the culture of service in Japan by sharing best practices amongst volunteer organizations. This year’s programme focused on the volunteer organizations that promoted volunteerism among youth.
In October, over 120 non-profit organizations and 2,700 volunteers participated in a National Clean Up Campaign in five cities. In November, 48 volunteer organizations participated in the Peace Project Contest to demonstrate how to use service of any kind –- from environmental projects to a youth soccer contest and foreign student outreach –- to promote peace and cultural understanding. On 4 December, a panel of judges including the IAVE representative awarded the first place prize of $1800 to Hokkaido Open College, followed by GOOD Multicultural Group and Zushi High School $1100.
On 2 December, a forum on volunteerism and service learning was held at the Hotel New Kanda with representatives from Gakusyuin University, Sawayaka Welfare Foundation, Japan Youth Volunteer Association, Japan International Volunteer Association, Tokyo Volunteer Center, NICE, Rikkyo University and others. Mei Cobb, Senior Vice President of The Points of Light Foundation traveled to Japan with Charles Phillips, International President of Service For Peace to exchanged information on volunteerism and service in USA.
Ms. Cobb presented to the entire group about the growth and importance of volunteering in the United States, and encouraged her audience to have a big vision for volunteering in Japan, where it is relatively new. She also facilitated a workshop and panel discussion on leadership for the heads of 50 youth organizations.
Nairobi, Kenya: Gate of Hope Orphanage
The SFP-Kenya Chapter organized the celebration at the Gate of Hope orphanage. The home in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya takes care of 30 orphans; some were former street children, others from families where the parents died of HIV / AIDS. They mobilized youth volunteers, ages between 4 to 20, and the home benefited from their work and from the items bought with the SFP/IDV grant, including 30 trees for planting and 5 mango fruit trees, gardening tools, house cleaning items and 50 kgs of rice.
The orphans and other visiting volunteers from the village were carrying out a clean up and planting trees, , a small step toward achieving the MDGs. It was a service learning day too as the children counted the benefits of trees such as, trees attract rainfall, help to maintain our rivers as water catchments, purify the air we need to breath, provide timber, provide material for the manufacturing of their school pencils and paper for their school books, trees provide firewood for the cooking of their meals.
As the day went on, the volunteers prepared a wonderful meal, well spiced and served the African buffet way. When mealtime came the orphans felt loved and appreciated the company of the visiting children and the few adults. As the day came to a close, the entire party went into song and dance into the evening.
Sinfra, Cote D'Ivoire: Hospital clean-up & AIDS education
During this IVD celebration, SFP worked in partnership with the Cote D’Ivoire National Committee of AIDS and the secondary schools to hold AIDS prevention conference.
The activities were planned in two steps. In the morning, more than 60 volunteers joined in a general clean-up and maintenance of the grounds of the general hospital. Students were happy to see some local personalities such as the director of the hospital, the director of the local radio, and some professors join them in the hard work, together with friends from other schools.
The second part of the IVD was a conference. More than 250 people gathered in the conference room of the municipality. The lecturer, from Service For Peace, gave a presentation about the dangers of AIDS and how to avoid then. Although the event was scheduled for only an hour and a half, people stayed till 7pm, keen to learn.
After the conference, the president of the national committee of AIDS signed a partnership with SFP to educate people against AIDS. The national television were also present; while the local radio simultaneously broadcasted the session.
Ulaanbataar, Mongolia: Volunteer Culture Festival
A Culture Festival was organized at the Central Culture Palace of Mongolian Trade Unions for 400 elders, 300 disabled people, 300 orphans and 200 volunteers, a total of 1,200 people. The goals were quite simple: to give joy to participants and to heighten awareness on volunteerism and perhaps encourage more volunteers.
The IVD project in Kiev included games and contests, a puppet show and presents and sweets for children refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Congo. The goal was to break the barriers between nations, cultures and to provide volunteers the opportunity to experience being part of an international family. Thirty children and 20 volunteers from three different NGOs took part.
A second project in Poltava took place in sanatorium for disabled children. There was an educational presentation about the value of volunteer experience and the meaning of SFP initiative, followed by sport games and competition, and last but not least some necessary work in repair of the building
In Donetz, volunteers from the NGO Youth of Donbass Service For Peace volunteers and students of several Donetsk universities served at the Rainbow Orphanage for a day.
Taipei, Taiwan, ROC: 3 generations sushi friendship party
The children from Da-Li Elementary School guided, by university students visited Hang An Elderly Care Center. Everybody met at Da-li E first, and a representative from IAVE encouraged the young volunteers. Then the children worked on preparation of sushi and an entertainment program to offer to the elderly. The bus brought the volunteers to the Elderly Center where they spent time together with the elderly sharing Sushi, singing songs, making massage etc. The project gave the volunteers and the elderly a rare chance to have 1-on-1 contact with each other.
Although the elderly use mostly local Taiwanese, while most of the children speak only Chinese, they quickly managed to build a friendly relationship with each. The project brought 3 generations together and help them to improve their communication skills-beyond age and language barriers.
Thailand: Rankhamhaeng clean-up
SFP Thailand, Rankhamhaeng University students and Bangkapi District Offices organized IVD with the theme “Serve Community by Heart ” cleaning up at Ramkhamhaeng 24 Rd in Bangkok. We went out to recruit other volunteers approaching community leaders, people and business men and women, despite this being a community where people are focused on their work and do not often involve themselves in activities to serve their community.
Before we started the program we had an orientation about the history and purpose of International Volunteer Day and purpose of this project. They set team and personal goals for this project and then presented their goals team by team. Then we went out and local citizens joined our activities for cleaning up the environment along in a busy commercial area.
Mrs.Somsri Konghirun from Bangkapi District Offices gave testimony about the project on this day, saying “I had a good opportunity to join activities for development and serving others, and I can make friendly relations with others by work together, now I can get the deeper meaning about service and living for sake of other.”
Israel: Mount of Olives Hospital visit
This internationally celebrated day provided the opportunity for 300 individuals from the Al- Tur neighborhood in the area of the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, to get organized with the schools of the area, SFP, the Muchtars and Sheiks, (community leaders) and together to do something with an impact. The ceremony started in the school yard of Al-Tour Comprehensive High School.
Mr Abraham Levin, President of the UNICEF Public Committee in Jerusalem, spoke of the contribution of UN initiatives and the importance of volunteering in shaping lives. A speech was also delivered by school principals and Baruch Shalev, the SFP representative.
The preparations took days as students prepared greeting cards. With the generous support received for this purpose, toys and bunches of flowers where prepared. And then groups of pupils with teachers and community volunteers visited sick people in hospitals Augusta Victoria, Almakassed, and in Amira Basma Institute.
South Korea: National volunteer convention
SFP has emerged as one of the major international service organizations in Korea and to conclude their work for 2005 and celebrate the International Day of the Volunteer, they held a national volunteer convention in conjunction with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Korea Council of Volunteering.
More than 500 people attended the opening ceremony. The guest of honor was Ms.Kwon Yang-Suk, First Lady of Korea. Nineteen NGOs attended the exhibition and used the opportunity to share best practices and network. As organizers, SFP had the opportunity to share its vision, and all NGOs joined in an awards and commendation ceremony for outstanding volunteers.
2005 was an extremely busy year for Service For Peace Korea, with relief work dominating the picture, starting with tsunami relief in Thailand from December, 2004 and most recently SFP Korea sent a small medical relief team to Pakistan to assist recovery efforts after the devastating earthquake in October.
The Service For Peace model of transformative peacemaking brings together volunteers from diverse ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds to address compelling local needs. The global strategy of Service For Peace is to foster volunteerism around the world as a foundation to create culture of peace.