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Lyonpo’s speech for the Launch of International Year of Volunteers -2001
on gfh Dec.2000


Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am pleased and honoured to be here to mark the Launch of the International
Year for Volunteers 200 1.

The designation of the Year 2001 as the International Year for Volunteers
by the UN General Assembly is indeed a great step towards recognition of
the contributions made by the volunteers all over the world including
Bhutan.

To start with, I would like to mention here that in Bhutan the International
Volunteer Programme started with the arrival of 10 UNVs in 1980. As the
International Volunteer Programme proved to be mutually beneficial, the
Royal Government of Bhutan diversified to other volunteer programme and
till date we have received 750 volunteers from various volunteer agencies
like UNV, JOCV, VSA, VSO, SNV, DED (German Volunteer Service), and
WUSC (World University Service of Canada). At the moment, we have 75
international volunteers working in Bhutan in various sectors.

As we all know, the major problem faced by Bhutan, since the inception of
the First Five-Year Plan was the shortage of human resources. The assistance
provided by the International Volunteers’ Programme, enabled Bhutan to
meet the requirement of human resource that was vital for the achievement
of our development objectives, and at the same time enabled us to develop
and strengthen our human resources. Although, we have made immense
achievement in the development of our human resources, we are still far
from being self-sufficient especially in the specialised and technical areas.
I would like to thank all the International volunteers, past & present for their
contributions to the development and modernization process of Bhutan.
Beside the contribution made by the International Volunteers, we also had
very devoted and committed expatriates who worked with true volunteer
spirit and made tremendous impact on the development process of Bhutan.
Among them, I can not help mentioning the names of two persons who stand
out prominently, they are Late Father William Mackey for his work in the
education sector and Late Dasho Keiji Nishioka for his contribution in the
agriculture sector.

At the national front, we may not have Volunteerism in an organized form as
the International Volunteers, however, I would like to say that the spirit of
volunteerism has existed through out the ages in one form or other in
Bhutanese culture. It can be strongly seen in the rural areas in the form of
labour contribution for house construction, plantation and other community
activities. This tradition of co-operation and mutual understanding has
helped the survival of Bhutanese communities under harsh conditions.
However, with the socio-economic development of the nation, the social
networks that bind the communities in the rural areas are not so strong in the
urban areas.

However, of late number of activities are being taken up by the national
Y volunteers in an organized form. To mention a few, the National Women’s
Association of Bhutan (NWAB) has taken up numerous activities like credit
scheme, non-formal education, the smoke-less stoves and income generation
activities aimed at the rural population in the country. The Social Service
Unit in Sherubtse College is a voluntary club that has helped the local
communities in a true spirit of volunteerism. The work being done by the
Village Health Workers are to be commended. Recently, few other voluntary
organizations are coming up in various areas.

With the increasing population and increasing pace of development and the
changing social networks, various needs are arising, which the government
alone may not be able to address. Therefore, the need for volunteer effort is
greater today than ever.

In order to encourage our people to take up more voluntary activities, it is
important to recognise the efforts and initiatives taken up by our nationals in
a true spirit of volunteerism. Now, with the year 2001 being recognized as
the IYV, it provides a platform for us to recognise voluntary works of our
people who have contributed to the betterment and well being of the society.
Having said this, I would like to declare open the International Year of
Volunteers 2001 in Bhutan. Once again, I would like to thank all the
International volunteers and National Volunteers who have contributed to the
development of our country. With the launching of IYV, I am sure that c
volunteerism will gets its due recognition and appreciation through effective
promotion, facilitation, networking among national volunteers and
international volunteers within or outside the country.

Tashi Delek!.

 






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