International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2010 was celebrated all over India with a variety of impressive activities from a national essay and slogan competition to local panel discussions, a tree-planting and a human chain march to promote the MDGs and volunteerism.
International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2010 was celebrated all over India with a variety of interesting, informative and impressive activities.
National essay and slogan writing competition
A national essay and slogan writing competition was organized to spread greater awareness of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inspire and involve more people to join the movement towards achieving the MDGs by 2015.
The competition was organized by Joining Hands, the Times Foundation, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and the Government of India, and was supported by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.
Joining Hands volunteers sent posters and flyers to print and electronic media as well as organizational and social networking websites throughout India, inviting young people from 16 to 25 years old to develop an IVD theme for 2010 and write about the role of youth in achieving the MDGs. The contest drew participants from Jammu and Kashmir in the North to Kerala in the South, Assam in the East to Maharashtra in the West and more than 20 schools and 50 colleges in Delhi were involved.
The winner of the essay contest was Swati Rastogi, a college student who is involved with an NGO and works for the empowerment of the marginalised people of the community through proper education. Along with seven friends, she designs computer education, literacy or tailoring programs that help to increase the employability of youth and the empowerment of women as well as to help combat gender discrimination.
Youth play an important role in the development of a nation and by taking part in the contest, they learnt about the MDGs to eradicate existing problems in society. They also got a chance to express their own ideas and solutions. Sharing their involvement and dreams during the contest and designing slogans, like Utopia many man may prophecy, the catalyst, though, has got to be me, not only helped to highlight the need to volunteer for community projects, but also showed that youth are aware of problems in their communities.
Doordarshan TV broadcast
On 4 December 2010, a panel discussion on volunteerism was held in New Delhi and telecast live by Doordarshan, Indias national channel. The programme focused on the importance of volunteers in India and on the development of poor and marginalised communities.
Amongst the participants who contributed to the lively discussions were Sumitra Patro, a tribal woman volunteer from Jharkhand, other tribal community volunteers, Skillshare Development Workers, UN Volunteer, Anoj Chhetri, Programme Officer with the UNV India Field Unit, Chandni Joshi, the Chairperson of Skillshare International India and a Member of the Skillshare UK Board, and Peter Warner, a Skillshare volunteer.
The Indian broadcaster also connected the panellists with Ratna Verma, a UN Volunteer based in Jaipur, and Ibrahim Hussein, UNV Senior Portfolio Manager, at UNV headquarters in Bonn, Germany.
Photo exhibition in New Delhi.
On the same day, a photo exhibition featuring tribal women volunteers was held in New Delhi, opened by Sam Sharpe, Head of the British Government Department of International Development in India (DFID). The photos included brief descriptions of how the volunteers have contributed towards the achievement of the MDGs by helping to address maternal and infant mortality among the tribal community or improve the livelihood of marginalised communities.
In the attendant panel discussion, Mr Sharpe said community volunteers deserved particular appreciation for their selfless service and contributions to development and spoke about the importance of volunteering for DFID. He also noted the worlds commitment towards the fulfilment of major development targets.
Chandni Joshi, the Chairperson of Skillshare International India and a Member of the Skillshare UK Board, chaired the event and highlighted the importance of the MDGs in setting both targets and standards for achieving development agendas. Anoj Chhetri, the UNV Programme Officer for India welcomed the participants and Rajiv Chandran, the India National Information Officer with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), read out the UN Secretary-Generals message for IVD.
In his keynote address, Jeroninio Almeida (Just Another Volunteer, Indian Confederation of NGOs) emphasised the need for citizen volunteers and stressed that achieving the MDGs will require the ingenuity, solidarity and creativity of many millions of people.
Julie Marie George, Programme Director of Skillshare International, thanked the volunteers and especially acknowledged the contributions of the community volunteers and development workers. The meeting concluded with a debate on the importance of MDGs, presented by students of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
The highly successful event was coordinated by Kim Maria Misao, Skillshares Regional Programme Officer, who worked closely with UNV and UNIC. In order to raise awareness of volunteers invaluable contributions and to motivate more people to contribute their time to development, Skillshare plans to display the photos at various premises and occasions during the year as part of its Development Awareness Programme.
MDG Panel discussion in Hardoi
In Hardoi, a district of Uttar Pradesh, representatives from the Red Cross, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) and Sarvodaya Ashram Volunteers joined in a panel discussion on the theme Development of All and Development with All, to explore ways towards achieving the MDGs.
Panel discussion in New Delhi
On 13 December 2010, UNV, in collaboration with the Times Foundation, the National Foundation for Communal Harmony and the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), organized a panel discussion in the UN conference hall in New Delhi to address the topic Inclusive development: actualising the MDGs.
Sudhir Kumar Sinha, the Country Head for Corporate Social Responsibility and Resettlement and Rehabilitation of Arcelor Mittal, Sandeep Silas, a social activist, Don Mohanlal, from the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation, and Dr. SudarshanIyengar, the Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith University, discussed the lack of recognition of volunteers, structural challenges and the need for a policy framework to regulate voluntary actions among other issues. Panel members recognized that India needs voluntary support for inclusive development and agreed that the discourse on volunteerism needs to be worked on from all segments of civil society in future.
Patrice Coeur-Bizot, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, welcomed the dignitaries. In her keynote address, Sudha Pillai, the Member Secretary of the Planning Commission of the Government of India, said that although India ranks among the top ten countries on income gain, the 2010 Global Human Development Report identified the widening disparity between the rich and poor and gender inequality as the major challenges India will be facing.
She said that, as a result, inclusive growth is a top priority for the country. Mrs Pillai also noted that India is one of the largest UNV operations in the world with volunteers working on projects contributing towards social inclusion, promoting accountability of the MDGs and supporting local government planning.
Celebrations in Orissa
More than 400 participants celebrated IVD at the Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD) in Orissa. Students and faculty members from ten leading institutes, UN Volunteers, as well as personnel with UNDP Orissa, CYSD, the Bakul Foundation and other NGOs took part. The event was inaugurated by Mr. Jagadananda, the State Information Commissioner, who spoke about the two Indias, where one part seems to be prospering economically while the other seems to be suffering from poverty.
Ambika Nanda, the UNDP State Programme Officer, said that the MDGs are not just the United Nations goals, but a states commitment to its citizens. Shri P. K. Sahoo, CYSD Chairman, spoke about the history of social service and volunteering in the state and urged the young participants to come forward and share their experiences and efforts.
Srabani Das, a UN Volunteer and the State Millennium Campaign Coordinator of Orissa, made a presentation about the MDGs from global, national and state perspectives, to raise awareness of the MDGs and encourage participants to reflect on them.
Young participants enthusiastically took part in a quiz to test their knowledge of the MDGs and volunteering, which was conducted by Manasa Nayak, himself a volunteer with Bakul Foundation. Organizers also shared brochures and documents about volunteering and different ways of contributing towards the MDGs as volunteers.
Later, the participants formed a human chain in one of the prominent squares of the city to demonstrate collective efforts towards achieving the MDGs and also to spread the message of volunteering.
Environmental Sustainability in Jashpur
Inspiration in Action was proven by the team of Jashpur in Chhattisgarh. In their pursuit of MDG 7, Ensuring Environmental Sustainability, local youth and children planted trees in an area reserved by the Central Reserve Protection Force (CRPF). As conservationists know, simply sowing seeds or planting a tree into the ground is not sufficient.
Being vigilant over the growth period and ensuring that the seed or sapling survives to become a fully-grown tree is the true meaning of forestation. Thus, soldiers were deployed to keep an eye on the newly planted saplings.
Manoj Ramakant Mishra, the President of Shri Balaji Samity (SBS), Dananjay Pathak, the Secretary of the Centre for Action and Welfare Society (SCAWC) and Chakrabir Shingh and his colleagues from CRPF took part in the activity.
After the tree planting, Chandan Kumar Behera, a national UN Volunteer working in Jashpur district, conducted a discussion on the MDGs and volunteering for society. Youths from two youth clubs actively participated in the discussion.