‘Humane impulse to assist’ leads to enriched life, UN chief says on global Volunteer Day
“The humane impulse to assist and empower others that motivates volunteers rebounds back to them in the form of an enriched life,” the UN chief explained in a message marking the Day, annually celebrated on 5 December.
“An ambulance rushes a wounded child to a hospital. A hungry family receives a warm meal. A battered woman finds free shelter. In scenes of human suffering around the world, hope comes thanks to volunteers who give their time, skills and resources to others in need,” Mr. Ban added.
Volunteers “offer life skills while expanding their own know-how; they empower communities while earning a sense of personal fulfilment at having made a difference in our world.”
This year’s International Volunteer Day takes on special significance as the UN prepares to shape a new vision for sustainable development and a new universal climate agreement, both to be adopted next year.
People in more than 80 countries will celebrate the Day by taking action to improve their communities. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, global citizens will organize parades, sports festivals, group clean-ups, blood donations, rallies, social media campaigns, exhibitions, fundraisers, and other events to inspire change.
There are currently more than 6,300 UN Volunteers (UNV) and 11,000 UN Online Volunteers who “helped millions of people to make change happen by giving them a voice in sustainable development and peace efforts across the globe,” Mr. Ban said.
“I also pay special tribute to the many volunteers responding to the Ebola crisis. UN volunteers and their counterparts are helping to address the outbreak through prevention, awareness-raising and treatment activities,” the Secretary-General said.
Volunteers’ assistance is particularly important as “we battle misconceptions about the disease and strive to show compassion for all those who are affected.”
In his message on the Day, Executive Coordinator of the UN Volunteers programme, Richard Dictus, said people’s engagement makes change happen locally, national and globally. “Through volunteering, people can participate in peacebuilding, sustainable development and peacekeeping processes.
“All over the world, peace and development efforts become more effective when the fully engage people irrespective of their background, race, gender or age. Participation through voluntarism is also a way to empower people in marginalized groups by providing them with an opportunity to act,” he said.
Finally, Mr. Dictus expressed his sincere gratitude to all the volunteers making a change in the ongoing development and peace processes around the world, declaring: “We, together, make change happen through volunteering.”
“At UNDP, we see the vital role which volunteerism plays in promoting development and peace around the world, She said, adding that in 2014, UN Volunteers, assigned as health and social workers, lawyers, teachers, climate change analysts, and other specialists, collaborated with UNDP on more than 1,300 projects.
“From Ebola prevention campaigns in West Africa to the recent work on election arrangements in Afghanistan, UNV and UNDP are working together for development results,” said Miss Clark.
The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day.
UN Volunteer (UNV) has called on people to volunteer full-time, part-time or even online. When people contribute their time, skills, and knowledge by volunteering, the combined efforts can be a significant force for achieving peace and development, the agency said.
This year’s Day specifically highlights the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grass-roots in decision-making processes, ultimately creating space for participation that leads to stronger governance, social cohesion, peace and sustainable development.