International Volunteers Day

and Launching of the International Year of Volunteers 2001

Papua New Guinea

December 5, 2000


"Volunteerism the Melanesian Way through caring and sharing" was the theme of the International Volunteers Day and the Launching of International Year of Volunteers 2001 held successfully at the United Church ground in Boroko. Publicity was provided by the press, radio and television stations respectively, email and personal invitations. The occasion was graced by the presence of the Speaker of National Parliament, Honorable Benard Narokobi, Lady Carol Kidu - Member of Parliament, Mr. Bill Armstrong Representative, Australian Volunteers International, Mr. Harumi Sakaguchi – UNDP Resident Representative and Resident Coordinator, UN System in PNG, other dignitaries coming from both the government, church and non government organizations.

The theme on "Volunteerism the Melanesian Way through Caring and Sharing" was excellently articulated by Lady Carol Kidu in her inspiring speech. She said that volunteerism is a way of life in Melanesia especially in Papua New Guinea. This is manifested in many ways like the simple act of sharing food, visit to relatives, helping in community activities like assisting in repair of houses of neighbors and others. She emphasized that this is a beautiful value common to all people in PNG.

A drama group portrayed the good value of volunteerism as a means in combating peoples’ sense of inability to cope with life’s struggles. A Youth Group who calls itself the Bamboo Band (all instruments were improvised PVC tubes to simulate the sound of Marimba) provided lively entertainment for the guests. A group composed of women and men sang to welcome the guests and the general audience.

Mr. Bill Armstrong spoke on the International Perspective of Volunteerism. He said that countries like Australia who is struggling to find its identity (are they with the North or are they with Asia Pacific) need to cooperate actively with its neighbors and he is encouraging PNG as its closest neighbor to help Australia find its own identity through sharing of experiences, talents and other areas of common interests.

The launching of the International Year of Volunteers 2001 was made by Mr. Harumi Sakaguchi, Resident Representative, UNDP in a unique way. He shared with the audience a bit of his life. He said he started his career as a volunteer working from country to country on different assignments. As Resident Representative of UNDP he conveyed to all volunteer sending organizations, the government departments and other entities that UNDP is keen on promoting volunteerism, developing partnership and collaborating on many areas to address issues on poverty alleviation, criminality, good governance, environment and others.

Volunteer organizations such as AVI, DED, JICA, NVS, USPC & UNV/UNDP put up items for display to promote their respective programs. After the program many people stayed behind to ask how they could become volunteers. I came to know several ex UNVs who are now living in PNG and continuing in their personal capacity to promote volunteerism.

Three Women’s Groups helped in catering for the occasion. Fresh fruits, vegetables, coconut juice and local foods were serve to the guests. There were food enough for everybody.

Another activity related to the International Volunteers Day and International Year of Volunteers is the Human Rights Forum held last December 8, 2000. The speakers were the Attorney General, Ombudsman, Commissioner of Police and a representative coming from civil society who discussed the Rights of Freedom of Assembly and Association by Citizens.

Last December 9, 2000 volunteers conducted "Clean-a-thon". This activity was participated by volunteer sending agencies, government and the general population interested in promoting volunteerism in Papua New Guinea. The original objective of the Clean-a-thon was to clean the children’s and women’s wards at the Port Moresby General Hospital., however, the areas were already clean as such the group decided instead to clean the front façade of the General Hospital as it was so dirty due to rubbish and the unconscionable habit of the people to spit anywhere and everywhere (walls, posts, ground, doors, windows, etc) after chewing betel nut. After the activity the façade of the hospital was more presentable worthy to be called the premier institution in PNG promoting health and sanitation. Promotion coverage for the activity was provided by EM TV.

Lessons Learnt

In planning for activities it is very important to keep on going back to the original purpose or objective(s) of the committee tasked to plan and prepare for the activity. Secondly, the objectives should be clear and understood by everybody. Agenda for meetings should be prepared in advance so members can come prepared together with possible commitments of agencies.

The Team

The National Committee assigned to plan and implement for the International Volunteers Day and International Year of Volunteers:

National Volunteer Service


US Peace Corps

Post Courier of PNG


Members of the National Committee:

National Volunteer Service


US Peace Corps



Australian Volunteer International





Swiss Inter Team



By: Wilfredo Nelson L. Anciano, UNV Program Officer, UNDP PNG