By volunteering, more than one billion people dedicate their time, skills and experience to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Every year, International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December recognizes the extraordinary contribution of volunteers to peace and development and celebrates the spirit of volunteerism. To mark IVD this year, activities took place across East and Southern Africa. From planting trees to donating food and books to orphans and schools, UN Volunteers showed solidarity through volunteering in their communities.
In Kenya, UN Volunteers took part in the activities marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December, hosted at the Technical University of Mombasa. The event included a booth display and a talent show from special needs schools. UNV highlighted volunteer programmes and potential UN Volunteer assignments that are inclusive of people with disabilities.
UN Volunteers, in collaboration with partners and the government, participated in a walk to raise community awareness about disability inclusion. They walked from the Tom Mboya School of Cerebral Palsy to the Technical University of Mombasa, one of the STRIDE programmes supported by UN Volunteers. In addition, they held an amputee football match, with music and entertainment.
On 5 December, UNV and partners celebrated the IVD2022 theme, Solidarity through Volunteering, at the fifth Youth National Student Leaders Summit of the University of Nairobi. Participants included students, faculty and members of the university fraternity who volunteered in Kenya's recent peaceful elections. UN Volunteers emphasized the critical importance of youth participation in development processes.
Representatives of UNV, government and volunteer-involving organizations took part in the eighth edition of the Volunteer of the Year Award on 6 December. The gala night was held to honour the outstanding contributions of volunteers. National UN Volunteer Lucas Odhiambo received the Volunteer of the Year award, while Yu Tsukioka received the International Volunteer of the Year award. Both volunteers serve with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in the country.
Volunteerism is a basic expression of human relationships. It is about people’s need to participate in their societies. --Lucy Ndungu, UNV Regional Manager for East and Southern Africa, in her keynote address at the fifth National Student Leaders Summit at University of Nairobi
In Botswana, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) hosted the IVD celebration on 2 December, gathering 50 participants from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Resident Coorindotr's Office (UNRCO), UNICEF), Change Africa and Volunteers Hub volunteer organizations, as well as youth and students from the Botswana National Council and BOTHO University.
Participants had the opportunity to discuss with partners and volunteers to get a sense of what it means to serve and how they can get involved in becoming future change makers. The focus of the session was to sensitize UN partners on UNV talent solutions and provide youth, volunteers and students from local universities an opportunity to celebrate their efforts and share their values.
In Rwanda, activities organized for IVD included a radio talkshow that aired on Radio Rwanda and Community Radio. This focused on the role of volunteerism in fostering civic engagement, as well as understanding volunteerism through Rwandan History.
At national level, an event in the Northern Province recognized and appreciated outstanding youth volunteers in Gicumbi District. Representatives of the Government, UNV and civil society organizations laid the stone where youth volunteers will construct a hostel to generate revenues to help vulnerable families. They also visited a nearby tea plantation where most of the youth volunteer.
As the world celebrates the spirit and the power of volunteerism today, we recognize the tireless work and the outstanding contribution of volunteers to UN efforts to advance sustainable development at grassroots levels in Rwanda. --Mr Ozonnia Ojielo, UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda
In South Africa, a one-day workshop on IVD convened to raise awareness of disaster risk management and ward-based management. Volunteers were offered the opportunity to better understand volunteer legislation, the impact of volunteerism, and the role of volunteers in disaster management. Event participants included officials from the eThekwini Municipality, community volunteers, UNDP and UNV.
In Tanzania, UN Volunteers collaborated with Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung to co-host IVD celebrations. The event engaged the East Africa Community secretariat, based in Arusha, and 30 volunteer-involving organizations to explore lessons learned from volunteer work and strengthen volunteer networking in the East Africa region. Representative of government ministries and development partners took part in a high-level panel dialogue. The event was also supported by host UN entities such as UNDP, UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Food Programme (WFP), WHO and UN-Habitat. Fraternity from the private sector, civil society organizations and academia joined the commemoration.
Keynote speakers included the Hon. Liberata Mulamula, Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Hon. Jenista Joackim Mhagama. Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office (Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Youth, Employment and Persons with Disability), Dr Peter Mathuki, Secretary General, East Africa Community, Zlatan Milisic, UN Resident Coordinator, Ambassador HE Manfredo Fanti, European Union Embassy, Ambassador Regine Hess of Germany, Ambassador Mr Anders Sjoberg of Sweden, Ambassador Richard Kabonero of the Uganda High Commission, Christine Musisi, UNDP Resident Representative and heads of volunteer-involving organizations.
The event featured an exhibition, high-level panel discussion, thematic volunteer sessions aimed at knowledge and experience sharing on topical issues ranging from volunteering during COVID-19, harnessing the demographic dividend through volunteer skills development, the role of ICT in promoting volunteer work, and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all, ensuring inclusion and equality for every person.
In Lesotho, UNDP hosted an IVD session on 6 December, gathering around 50 participants from FAO, WHO, UNRCO and UNICEF, volunteer organizations (Skillshare, Kick4Life, LCN Volunteers, Peace Corps & Volunteers Hub), as well as the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Gender at UN House in Maseru, to recognize the invaluable contribution of volunteers in Lesotho and around the world. The youth and students had the opportunity to dialogue with key partners and former and current volunteers, to get a sense of what it means to be a volunteer and be inspired by their experiences and become future volunteers and change makers.
In Ethiopia, IVD was celebrated on 5 December in Bishoftu/Deberezit with a community engagement activity at Yegan-Legna Elderlies and Children Centre/Home. Participants donated money to show solidarity with the community and planted trees outside the centre to commemorate the day. The event was followed by a two-day retreat of UN Volunteers held in Bishoftu city at Adulala Resort, with the participation of more than 60 local and international volunteers volunteering in Ethiopia. The retreat contained different activities and sessions that helped the team meet with the specified objectives: creating solidarity among volunteers and the institutions they serve, networking opportunities for the participants, strengthening bonds through collaborative team building activities, as well as offering opportunities to reflect and grow the volunteering organizations in Ethiopia.
In Malawi, a national level event was held on 8 December, with a keynote address from the UN Resident Coordinator who was represented by the UNDP Resident Representative. Other speakers included the Chief of Party for VSO, a Government Representative from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Social Welfare and Gender. The event also included a joint advocacy walk with the Malawi Defence Force Brass Band and National Volunteer Awards. More than 150 high-level and strategic leaders attended the function with volunteer-involving organizations such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), VSO, Corps Africa, Red Cross and the World University Service of Canada also showcasing their work.
In Madagascar, the government and UN family joined communities in community development activities called Tangamaro – a traditional form of community service where volunteers cleaned up public spaces in the centre of Antananarivo and engaged the UN and public officials in urban renewal for the city.
In Uganda, an online Volunteer Dialogue was arranged where volunteers discussed volunteerism and their motivations to volunteer. These included the need to create change in the society, learn skills and pursue the drive to connect with people in their communities.
As per the theme, solidarity through volunteering, UNV and other international volunteer organizations in Uganda joined in solidarity with Home of Hope, a community-based organization that cares for children with disabilities. The organization provides basic needs, social protection and improved standards of living and encourages love for such children in the community. In a bid to raise awareness and support for Home of Hope, volunteer-involving organizations held a series of events, including a radio talkshow, live TV talkshow, online dialogue, donation handover and media/social media engagement.
In Zimbabwe, an IVD event was held in Harare, officiated by the Ministry of Youth, which leads efforts related to volunteerism in the country. The event was an opportunity to celebrate volunteer achievements in the country and award certificates of recognition. Volunteer partners from across the country had the opportunity to showcase their work via exhibitions set up in and around the main conference room.
In Zambia, the UN family, in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, launched the National Volunteer Policy. The event was attended by 160 delegates, with key notes speeches from the Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Hon. Doreen Sefuke Mwamba, MP, and the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Beatrice Muthali, who indicated that it was her great pleasure to join colleagues to celebrate International Volunteer Day.
Collective humanity and invaluable contributions of volunteers to sustainable human development continues to shape the progress of communities throughout Zambia and beyond. It is through the volunteers that citizen voices are amplified. --Beatrice Mutali, UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia
In Mozambique, UNV led the National Volunteer Conference, which was held on December 3, 2022, at the Avani Pemba Beach Hotel in Pemba, Cabo Delgado Province. The session brought together 100 volunteers from 11 provinces, as well as government entities represented at the highest level by the Secretary of Youth and Employment, Oswaldo Petersburg, and other UN agencies, particularly UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UNHCR and WFP, as well as national and international organizations such as VSO, WeWorld-GVC, Red Cross, National Volunteer Council, University Students Association and the National Youth Council.
Volunteers in attendance had the opportunity to discuss the impact of volunteer work today, the climate change situation, and the opportunities provided by UN agencies through the UNV programme. To mark IVD 2022, the UNV team in Mozambique also joined the Secretary of State for Youth Employment, Oswaldo Peterburgo, for mural paintings, where the key word painted was solidarity.
In South Sudan, IVD 2022 was celebrated through a series of activities by volunteers in several cities. In Juba, an event took place at the compound of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). It brought together all volunteers, with the participation of the Guests of Honour Mr Titus Osundina, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in South Sudan, Mr Timothy A. CROWLEY, Chief of Operations and Resources Management, and Mr Nicholas Haysom, SRSG, UNMISS, who expressed appreciation of the volunteers for their hard works and service.
During the event, a few volunteers shared their stories and experience serving as UN Volunteers in different UN agencies in South Sudan and inspired everyone. "The UNV programme have given me a lot. As I end my four years in South Sudan, I hope I've been able to give back," said Carole Abou Farah, a volunteer with UNMISS. In addition, a radio talkshow was recorded with support from Radio Miraya FM 101, where UN Volunteer Jia Yong Tow participated and joined the discussion on IVD. In Bentiu, 16 UN Volunteers celebrated IVD with students aged 18-27 years, inspiring them with their stories and their journey of building their careers in the UN. They donated some exercise books, water dispenser buckets, ink pen, footballs, biscuits and boxes of juice to the school.
In Malakal, UN Volunteers celebrated IVD with events marking the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence and World Aids Day. All UN Volunteers from Yambio visited an orphanage and donated food, notebooks, bags and stationery. They played with the children and cherished each moment with them. As part of the IVD celebration, the team in Yei planted a couple of trees at the Yei Day Secondary School and Kinji Primary school.
For more visibility on IVD 2022, UNMISS published the stories of four UN Volunteers serving in the Aweil Field Office Aweil: Sarwah Qader, Arslan Naseerullah, Samuel Emmanuel Osekeny and Diane Umuhoza.