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First IVD for the United Nations Volunteers programme in Uruguay
14 January 2009

Antonio Graziano talks to the media about volunteerism and the United Nations Volunteers programme on IVD. (UNV)Antonio Graziano talks to the media about volunteerism and the United Nations Volunteers programme on IVD. (UNV)One of the children at Los Alfareros Children’s Club waters the vegetables in the communal garden. (UNV)One of the children at Los Alfareros Children’s Club waters the vegetables in the communal garden. (UNV)Antonio Graziano talks to the women of the Comuna Mujer CCZ14 Women’s Group on IVD. (UNV)Antonio Graziano talks to the women of the Comuna Mujer CCZ14 Women’s Group on IVD. (UNV)
Montevideo, Uruguay: The new United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme office in Uruguay, open since May 2008, made use of International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December to draw attention to the valuable work that many civil society organizations carry out in Uruguay to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) at a local level, through volunteer and community service projects.

The activity chosen for the day by UNV in Uruguay was an innovative event widely covered by the media. A van tour was organized through the departments of Montevideo and Canelones to raise awareness about the work carried out, specifically, by three civil society organizations: Los Alfareros Children’s Club, a Scouts Group and the Comuna Mujer CCZ14 Women’s Group.

The Children’s Club is the only organization of its kind in an urban area of around 150,000 people, many of whom are living in settlements. Thanks to technical experts and volunteers, the children receive education, daily food and learn how to grow vegetables in a small communal garden. The Scouts Group works with volunteer educators in a settlement of the Conciliación area, offering an alternative to social marginalization and poverty through the principles of tolerance, respect and the appreciation of diversity. The Comuna Mujer CCZ14 is one of the groups working for the recognition of women’s rights and for the integration of gender perspectives into local policies.

Antonio Graziano, UNV Programme Officer in Uruguay, says that the experience was very positive as it resulted in extensive coverage through the distribution of press releases and the involvement of the media, which helped to raise awareness about the benefits of volunteerism and its contributions to achieving the MDGs.

Another activity to mark IVD and International Human Rights Day, celebrated every year on 10 December, was a roundtable on "Volunteerism: Building Human Rights, Participating in Social Justice". This event was organized on 12 December by UNV, Uruguay’s Ministry of Social Development (MIDES) - through the National Youth Institute, and Uruguay’s National Association of NGOs (ANONG).

The roundtable, attended by the Social Development Minister and the UN Resident Coordinator, generated several debates about the promotion of volunteerism as a tool to ensure the observance of human rights around the world. At the beginning of 2009, a report of this meeting will be published, and its distribution will also serve as an awareness raising tool.

UNV, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Uruguay’s Ministry of Social Development approved a project in August with the objective of supporting and promoting volunteerism for development in Uruguay; from February, two volunteers will support the government in activities aimed at promoting volunteerism.

Uruguay is one of the pilot countries taking part in the ‘Delivery as One’ project, whose aim is to coordinate the work and activities of all UN agencies in order to increase the efficiency of their actions. UNV can contribute to this project through the integration of volunteerism into projects and programmes developed in collaboration with other agencies.