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Youth gear themselves for voluntary work
03 August 2007
by Stephen Odoi-Larbi

Accra, Ghana: The out-gone-Minister for Manpower, Youth and Employment, Honourable Abubakar Saddique Boniface, has indicated that, Youth who avail themselves for Voluntary Programmes, contribute tremendously to Nation Development.

"Volunteerism occurs when people, out of their own free will and without any financial motivation, decide to engage in activities that benefit the larger society. The act of volunteering has common roots but manifests itself with enormous diversity. There is however, a general agreement on its tremendous benefits to society: it is a key means by which individuals articulate their engagement as citizens and by building trust and reciprocity among citizens, Volunteerism as we all know, contributes to a more cohesive and stable society", he said.

This was contained in his keynote address delivered on his behalf by his Ministry's Deputy Director, Mrs. Jemima Allotey at the launch of Global Exchange Programme at the National Service Secretariat in Accra last Tuesday.

He however emphasized that in as much as Voluntary Programmes provide opportunities for people to provide services to their communities in contributing to the socio-economic and sustainable development of such communities, it also " fights rural poverty and improves the lives of the marginalized and disadvantaged".

Mr. Abubakar further noted that Voluntary Programmes "bring people together to work for their own welfare, their own communities and the nation at large".

"As Government's policy to nurture and develop the youth of Ghana into a people endowed with self-confidence, civic competence and responsibilities, high level of education and life skills, strong spiritual and moral values and disciple of positive-self for accelerated national development, there is also the Draft Youth Policy of my Ministry to address the challenges confronting the youth today and to empower them for self -fulfillment and national development", he noted.

He then appealed to the Government and Civil Societies to continue to demonstrate a lot more commitment by providing adequate resources for youth empowerment and development.

The programme dubbed " Ghana/UK: Young People working Together To Enhance Lively Options and Basic Education aims to deliver international volunteer exchanges and other activities that develop and inspire active global citizens. It also aims to exchange positively the lives of individuals and community through cross-cultural, reciprocal and mutually beneficial international exchanges.

In his remarks, the Voluntary Service Overseas Country Director, Mr. Ibrahim Tanko, stated that the focus of the Global Exchange Programme is on the youth whom they seek to create opportunities for to take on leadership roles in their various communities and the country at large.

He said " this programme will afford the two countries to work together to share skills of each others issue and concerns but whilst sharing ideas, they would also be contributing their quota to national development".

Mr. Tanko however, made an appeal to the Ministry of Manpower, Youth & Employment to come to their aid to help strengthen the activities of volunteerism in the country.

According to the British Council Deputy Country Director, Amanda Griffiths, the programme will engage nine people from Ghana and nine people from the UK to live and work alongside each other to gain understanding, share skills and experience and at the same time build positive relationships to foster trust, respect, equality and reciprocity.

She said the programme would be working with young people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five years which takes a period of three months. Amanda further stressed that the Ghanaian counterparts would be working in the UK from September 2007 to December 2007 in Southwark (UK), whilst their fellow British would be working in Elmina (Ghana) from December 2007 to February 2007.

In a brief remark by the Akuamuhene of Elmina, Nana Kojo Aduakwah (V), who had been a voluntary member for ten years, expressed his happiness for the organizers in selecting Edina as their place to be working with.

Responding to the issues raised, the Director of National Service Scheme, Mr. Kofi Obiri Yeboah, who chaired the occasion, emphasized that, " the youth have a role to play in the developmental process of the country".
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He then advised the youth to inculcate in themselves the spirit of volunteerism and to accept voluntary programmes as part of their lifetime activities.

Mr. Yeboah also made an appeal to all stakeholders to join hands to help voluntary programmes in the country.

The programme was an implementation by four organizations namely: the British Council, Voluntary Service Oversea (VSO) Ghana, Ghana National Service Scheme and Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana.