Keynote Speech of the Hon. Minister Daniel Kwelagobe

Minister, Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs

International Volunteers’ Week, 2 December 2000; 9:00 a.m.

Tsholofelo Community Centre, Broadhurst, Gaborone


Distinguished Deputy Mayor of Gaborone, Ms. Florence Rankoto;

Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP, Mrs. Comfort Tetteh;

Pastors Oupa Rampa and Kgwarape;

Directors and Representatives of Volunteer Agencies in Botswana;

Most-valued Volunteers serving in the country, both national and international;

Colleagues and Friends;

I am sincerely honoured and priviledged to be invited and be a part of this important occasion for volunteers, the International Volunteers’ Week. I am very pleased to know that a special day like this, the International Volunteer Day (IVD), was designated by the UN General Assembly to be celebrated every 5th December. And for the United Nations Volunteers or UNV at UNDP serving as the focal point for this annual . The celebration enables governments, para-statals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or civil societies and communities, to recognize, appreciate and strengthen the spirit of volunteerism in us. I am sure that volunteers all over the world are likewise happy in celebrating this event as they are often times, considered as the unsung heroes of battles in the field, who rarely make headlines but brings about remarkable impact in whatever they do.

Dear volunteers and friends, this volunteers’ week celebration in Botswana is not just any other celebration – but is something that you and all of us should deeply be grateful and happy about. This is the time that you should share your significant contribution to individuals, families, friends and colleagues at the workplace. Together with all the other volunteers in the world, you need to be applauded since based from your own goodwill, you have put your minds, efforts and hearts in order to be of service to others. As the UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan has stressed on his IVD message for this year, "the courage and dedication of the volunteers should be an inspiration for others – for all of us – to act.

In Botswana, it is a fact that the country has been and or become a home to many international volunteers who came and extended their services to different parts and sectors of the country. Their contribution have benefitted not only their clients or recipients and partners but also the volunteers themselves. This is manifested through the high level of inner satisfaction that the volunteers are able to gain and the inspiration it brings to keep them going.

Distinguished guests, volunteers, colleagues and friends, Botswana is definitely a home of volunteers as well. We could always remember our own ways of valuing "mephato", "molaletsa", "diphiri", or "metshelo" and several others that greatly contributed to the our daily lives. You may have heard some people saying that there is a decline of volunteerism in the country but this may not be so since I believe that we are all witnesses to the continuing support and assistance that we are extending to each other in our respective communities. At this moment, we do hold hands in combatting the HIV and AIDS pandemic, poverty, environment degradation and others. As we realize how these problems are affecting the different sectors of our people, particularly the youth, we are even more challenged to act and be counted. I believe therefore, that to volunteer, reach out and become a part of the solution to the above-mentioned problems, would lead us become a stronger nation. We would be able to work effectively together towards the achievement of our aims under Vision 2016 – with the volunteers in the forefront.

As we celebrate the International Volunteers’ Week and prepare for a much bigger event next year, the International Year of Volunteers or IYV 2001, I would like to take this opportunity to salute to all the volunteers in Botswana for a job well done, and invite more Batswana to get involve, volunteer and make a difference.

Dear colleagues and volunteers, I thank you again for this important occasion of celebrating your day with all of you. I wish you all a successful programme for today and for the rest of the week.

Kudos to all the volunteers!