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International Volunteer Day 2006
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They were dubbed as the "we" generation -- selfish and materialistic youngsters focused only on their needs.  But statistics dispute this notion. Worldwide young people volunteer 2.4 billion hours annually, helping in elderly homes, orphanages and community centres, among others.

This photo gallery documents the invaluable contribution provided by young people to promote volunteerism worldwide.

Read related articles in our special focus on youth and volunteering

A young volunteer teaches an elderly man how to use a computer.
(Photo: Caritas Community Centre. China)
REACHING OUT: A volunteer helps a disabled and elderly person in Ecuador. (Photo: UNV)

Volunteers helping the victims of the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah are finding it extremely difficult to reach affected villages and towns due to indiscriminate bombing. According to volunteers, the Israeli army has been shelling their routes, hitting civilians, humanitarian aid workers and volunteers. Such life-threatening situations can easily dampen spirits and discourage anyone. But volunteers on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border are committed – to the extent of endangering their lives – in providing emergency relief and evacuation support to the displaced and injured.

This photo gallery documents the invaluable humanitarian assistance provided by these courageous volunteers, most of them local people - and in some cases refugees and victims themselves.

Read related articles in our special coverage of the Middle East crisis

Since hostilities began in Lebanon, some two weeks ago, more than 5,000 Lebanese Red Cross (LRC), volunteers and staff, working under increasingly dangerous and life-threatening situations, continue to distribute essential relief and medicines to displaced families, sometimes at the peril of their life, especially in the south of the country. (Photo: IFRC)
Residents of Beirut cater for the children of the displaced, giving them warm showers at home on a daily basis. (Courtesy: Reuters)
The14-year-old girl was injured in southern Lebanon. Her younger sister was killed. Volunteers provided emergency medical supplies to the hospital where she was treated. (Photo: IMC/Tanya Habjouqa)
An mobile clinic team of volunteers in Syria on the border with Lebanon treats a woman who fled the recent violence. (Photo: IMC)
Lebanese Red Cross volunteers remove to hospital a patient injured in the bombings by Israeli army. (Courtesy: IFRC)

Volunteers play a key role in promoting public health and providing health care, including prevention of epidemics such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. From participating in community sanitation campaigns to donating time and resources for building hospitals, voluntary efforts can be seen in myriad forms.

In 2000, ten million people volunteered to support the immunization of 550 million children as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Most of them were concerned citizens, volunteering in their own communities. They gave their time to ensure that children reported to immunization stations, were properly documented, and received the oral vaccine. The total value of the support provided by volunteers was estimated at US$ 10 billion, well beyond the reach of governments or international and national organizations.

Working as a UNV neurology specialist, Ukrainian Nataliya Vinnytska instructs a local nurse on practical physiotherapy methods at Mnazi Mmoja State Hospital. (Photo by UNV)
UN Volunteer Kulwant Singh of India assists female-headed households in the northern Laotian village of Hongsa to collectively improve their economic status .He provides the women with training in agriculture and animal husbandry to producehigher quality items for sale at the local market. One such method is vaccinating livestock to ward off diseases. (Photo by UNV)
Dominican UN Volunteer Petra Buffong (left) advises Sister Rose Leon, principal of St. John's Catholic School in Portsmouth, Dominica, on health and family life education. 

(Photo by Richard Nyberg/UNV, November 2002)
Rotary has helped mobilize 10 million volunteers in the fight against polio and exemplify the volunteer spirit as they promote awareness of National Immunization Days and assist in their implementation. (Photo by Rotary International)

The high priority accorded to Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) “Promote gender equality and empowerment of women” – is an affirmation of the international support for women’s rights and gender equality as core values of development. International Women's Day is an opportunity to assess how much progress we have made in this direction and how far there is to go. And it is also an opportunity to focus on women's unique contributions and the problems and opportunities that they face all over the world.

This slideshow is a compilation of resources highlighting the role of women volunteers in empowering other women, and the challenges they face in promoting gender equality and volunteering.

Read our collection of stories and resources on this topic

Volunteering for the vulnerable in Yemen, UN Volunteer Shanti Risal from Nepal (centre) helps women access education and health services.
(Photo by UNV)
National UNV Halimatou Doulla Talata takes care of mothers and newborns in the maternity hospital in Zinder, Niger.
(Photo by UNV)
Computer aided development: Japanese UN Volunteer Atsumi Kani uses technology to design new government buildings for the people of Montserrat, a Caribbean island hard hit by volcanic rock and ash. 
(Photo by UNV)
American UN Volunteer Tammy Foote (left) assists the disabled and elderly in Montserrat. 
(Photo by UNV)
Dominican UN Volunteer Petra Buffong (left) advises Sister Rose Leon, principal of St. John's Catholic School in Portsmouth, Dominica, on health and family life education. 

(Photo by Richard Nyberg/UNV, November 2002)

Immediately after any disaster, volunteers - often the members of the local communities - play a crucial role in rescuing the survivors and bringing emergency relief and medical aid to them. As relief and aid arrive from other places, volunteers' responsibilities extend to post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation activities. In this slideshow, we bring you a snapshot of various roles volunteers play in response to disasters.

Read our collection of stories and resources that shows volunteerism to be a key element in providing emergency relief to disaster survivors and in post-disaster reconstruction.

Myanmar Red Cross volunteers check the list of the tsunami beneficiaries in the village of Kaing Taung. A minor ceremony is going to taking place where envelopes with 10,000 kyat (14 Swiss francs, or US$ 10) will be handed over to the women-headed households.
(Photo by Yoshi Shimizu/IFRC)
Red Cross volunteers in Suwon, south of Seoul, organize emergency relief kits to be sent to Indonesia for victims of the weekend's quake-triggered tsunami.
(Source: Reuters)
Volunteer Ma San San Maw joined the Myanmar Red Cross even though she lost her husband in the tsunami. He too had been a Red Cross volunteer.
(Photo by Yoshi Shimizu/IFRC)
A Red Crescent volunteer sprays disinfectant around houses in Hafun, Somalia to prevent the spread of disease. Here, he visits 90-year-old Ahmed Suman Ali, whose house was damaged by the tsunami, but who does not want to move to a temporary shelter because he says he belongs to his old house. He moved to the town when he was 18 years old, but he has never seen anything like this tsunami. 
(Photo by Lydia Mirembe/IFRC)
Volunteers distribute relief goods after they arrived for the earthquake victims in Bagh, southeast of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan October 13, 2005. 
(Photo by Mian Khursheed/REUTERS)

Volunteers play a key role in halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS. Volunteers – many of them themselves living with HIV/AIDS – work with people living with HIV/AIDS and local institutions to develop prevention, care and support activities.

This slideshow shows you the different ways in which volunteers are contributing to the achievement of MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.