11 February 2009
Ha Noi, Viet Nam:
This year’s International Volunteer’s Day in Hanoi was celebrated in partnership with the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU), universities in Hanoi and national and international volunteering organizations. The slogan for IVD 2008 was 'Volunteering! Connect to Share', which shows the spirit of volunteers in Vietnam to share their experiences and knowledge.
The celebration was a two-part event; a bicycle tour to promote green transport, and a volunteer fair. Nearly 100 national and international volunteers as well as interested students from several universities and people living with HIV worked over several months to prepare for this volunteer-led and volunteer-implemented event.
Before the Volunteer Fair, a press conference was held at HCYU highlighting the IVD celebration and the partnership between UNV, HCYU and other volunteer-involving organizations (VIOs) in the forthcoming project 'Strengthening capacity of volunteerism for development in Viet Nam'.
The bicycle tour on 4 December was a big success. In Hanoi, as in most other cities in Viet Nam, the preferred mode of transport is motorbikes, and the numbers of motorbikes and cars are increasing.
About 100 students and volunteers, both young and old, dressed in IVD and 'green transport' T-shirts, biked from different locations to the Ha Noi Botanical Gardens. Through this activity, the organizers and participants wanted to encourage Ha Noi citizens to start taking action for a greener city and healthier environment for all.
The IVD volunteer fair was celebrated on 7 December at the stadium of Hanoi University of Technology. There were two main highlights during the fair:
An IVD ceremony to thank and recognize volunteers’ contribution to Viet Nam’s social and economic development.
The introduction of 'Strengthening capacity of volunteerism for development in Viet Nam” – a project which has been developed by HCYU with support from UNV and other organizations over the last two years.
This project will soon be approved by the Government of Viet Nam, and one of its objectives is to support HCYU with the establishment of the 'Viet Nam Volunteer Information Resource Centre (VVIRC)'. This centre will provide resources and opportunities for volunteerism, and will promote, facilitate and enhance the contributions of volunteerism for development to better assist youth and other vulnerable populations in Viet Nam.
The celebration was opened by the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. John Hendra. “Viet Nam has a long history and great tradition of volunteering," he said. "Every year, thousands of Vietnamese, particularly youth, take part in activities to help the poor, the marginalized, the sick and the elderly.
"I know that many Vietnamese think it natural to help and always offer support to those in difficult circumstances. This is an admirable tradition that I very much hope will continue to be an integral part of your culture.
"On this International Volunteer Day, I would like to especially pay tribute to the national and international volunteers who are tirelessly contributing their time, talents and energy towards sustainable development in Viet Nam. Simply put – 'your actions are our inspiration'!”
At the stadium, 16 VIOs had information booths to share information about their volunteering activities and opportunities. There were performances from local pop artists, student bands, performing groups, fun games and competitions, a drawing corner for children, a culture exchange corner, a volunteer photo exhibition, and activities to support HIV self-help groups’ income generation. Approximately 1,000 students, volunteers and others visited the volunteer fair.