Volunteer work can become the driving force of change in many societies. Young Colombians know this, and for this reason, many take part in community work that promotes education and human rights as pillars of peace and development in their country.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Colombia promotes youth participation in volunteer activities that favour peace and development, and encourages volunteers to apply for the National Youth Volunteers Award. This award, created by the Presidential Programme for Colombian Youth in collaboration with UNV, aims to recognize and support volunteer initiatives driven by Colombian youth that strive to solve the countrys social problems.
National NGOs can nominate youth for the award whose volunteer work has a lasting impact in one of the following areas: education, health, democracy and human rights, environment, and art and culture.
In 2014, in its second edition, the objective of the Youth Volunteers Award was to recognize all youth whose selfless actions contributed to the construction of a country and society in peace. I invite all young people to not be indifferent to social realities, and to decide to take part in making change happen, said Orlando López, one of the winners of the 2014 Youth Volunteers Award, granted this July.
For Rafael Zavala, Resident Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Colombia is a country privileged to have a demographic bonus, or demographic window, and for this reason, initiatives like the Youth Volunteers Award have the support of the national government. Likewise, Adriana Serdán, UNV Programme Officer in Colombia, stresses that volunteering is an action that reflects love and solidarity, and for this reason, it is necessary to promote this type of work as of vital importance for the construction of peace and social development.
Gabriel Gómez, director of the Presidential Programme for Colombian Youth, asks that these types of initiatives not simply be recognized, but that they also lead to many more opportunities for youth volunteers in Colombia, hand-in-hand with civil society, the private sector, and international cooperation. The national government is very interested in increasing the number of youth volunteers, and for this reason has sought to generate new spaces where volunteerism is recognized, applauded, and taken into account, assured Gómez.
The United Nations Information Centre in Colombia spoke with the winners of the National Youth Volunteers Award in the areas of education and human rights, who discussed their work. To listen to the audio, go to:
Article translated from Spanish by UN Online Volunteer Laura Turner