Sierra Leone joins the world in celebrating International Volunteer Day
Volunteer Involving Organisations Network (VIONET), a consortium of volunteer serving agencies in Sierra Leone, celebrated this year’s International Volunteers Day (5th December) at the Atlantic Hall in Freetown today, December 6th, 2010 with a call for a “policy that will integrate volunteerism into the country’s institutional framework with the view to reduce poverty, offer opportunity to young people to share skills and help build communities”
This year’s global theme is “Volunteering for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. In Sierra Leone, VIONET’s local theme is “Managing our Natural Resources to Eradicate Poverty.”
In his official message on International Volunteer Day (IVD), UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, said that “volunteerism helps bring us together as individuals and societies. It is a powerful means of mobilizing all segments of society as active partners in building a better world”. Ban Ki Moon added: “On IVD, we recognize millions of people around the world who give their time and talent to tackle global challenges: from volunteers working in their own communities on climate change adaptation and poverty reduction to those supporting global causes of peace, justice and the Millennium Development Goals.”
UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, in her statement said “UNDP and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme work with governments in developing countries to promote volunteer engagement, national volunteer service programmes, and volunteer centres… National volunteers can also bring valuable knowledge of the local context, allowing development partners to reach out to communities and strengthen the capacity of these communities to become active players in addressing the challenges they face.”
UNDP Sierra Leone Country Director, Mia Seppo, who was present at the celebrations said over 7,500 UNV volunteers support the work of UNDP and other UN organizations and more than 3,500 international UNV volunteers are themselves drawn from developing countries like Sierra Leone. Mia Seppo further called on volunteers to focus on “the achievement of the MDGs, which is the cornerstone of our development goals in the coming years”.
Andrew Chishakwe, UNV/UNDP Programme Officer in Sierra Leone, noted the significance of the celebrations, which coincided with the launching of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10): “This year’s celebrations will go beyond December 5th. VIONET, which UNV is proud to be part of, has lined up several activities across the country. VIONET is engaging the university, policy makers, the media and communities to ensure that volunteerism is institutionalized in Sierra Leone.”
In Sierra Leone, the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) is running a volunteer programme under its Peace and Development Corps (PADCO) programme. The PADCO programme recruits recent university graduates, provides them with basic technical skills, and places them with various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) nationwide for a period of two years, to help kick-start their careers.
A NaCSA statement released to mark the event noted that, “Through involving and placing youth with institutions nationwide, PaDCO enables them to get involved in the effective management of the country’s resources. PADCO makes an active step towards increasing participation of women. PADCO is working on spreading volunteerism throughout the country and thereby instilling nationalism in Sierra Leone”.
Alfred Navo of Restless Development, one of the member organisations of VIONET, said:
“The MDGs can only be achieved when young people, who make up 60% of the world’s population, endeavor to imbibe the spirit of volunteerism for the development of their communities and the nation as a whole.” Navo continued, “As an organization, we are encouraging everyone, especially the young people, to volunteer their skills and time for us to kick poverty and hunger out of this beloved land.”
VIONET is a Consortium of all volunteer serving organizations in Sierra Leone including the UN’s Volunteering agency, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA)/PADCO, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), Restless Development, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and a host of local and international agencies.
Abdul Karim Bah, Communications Analyst, UNDP Sierra Leone. Tel: + 232 33 167 428. Email: email@example.com