This year for IVD, United Nations Volunteers Executive Coordinator Richard Dictus went to Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he celebrated the day with UN Volunteers and volunteers from 18 other associations who are members of the Goma Volunteers Platform.
The 2014 theme was civic participation and active citizenship. The program started with some educational activities on eco-citizenship in Mwanga College aimed at raising the students’ awareness about the importance of protecting and respecting the environment. Among other activities, participants swept the playground, installed a trash bin installed, repainted walls and planted trees.
A series of events also took place at the Cultural Youth center in Goma. These included a volunteers' village, a theatre play, and the final of an interscholastic competition called "Volunteers Grass" as well as shows and concerts.
The 2014 theme provided an occasion to raise awareness about the capacity for volunteerism to create opportunities for individuals to actively participate in the community's life. “Through volunteerism, citizens have the opportunity to participate in peace building, sustainable development and decision making processes. Volunteerism opens the way for dialogue and civil responsibility," declared Richard Dictus.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Martin Kobler, was also attended the ceremony. He highlighted the key role that volunteerism can play in achieving positive change for the country and the necessity for citizens to get involved for peace and prosperity.
The representative of the Provincial Ministry of Planning, [full name] also attended the event and encouraged young Congolese to engage in volunteer actions. She added that "facing many doubts that young people may have regarding their future, volunteerism is one of the pillars to build a better Congo. This can happen, not only with getting voluntarily involved for the realization of community interest projects, and creating at the same time job opportunities, but also and above all, volunteerism is an opportunity to make change happen.
The IVD campaign was rolled out by the Goma Volunteers Platform which brings together 18 civil society associations and NGOs from Nord-Kivu together with UNV and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Alongside the IVD activities, the Executive Coordinator took the opportunity of being in Goma to meet other UN Volunteers deployed in support of aerial operations within the MONUSCO (the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo). "UN Volunteers bring the expertise previously acquired by working within the private or governmental sector, essential to MONUSCO operations, that no other UN staff categories would be able to bring, considering the specificity of UN Volunteers assignments." said UNV Executive Coordinator.
Richard Dictus also visited Beni, a region that is experiencing a resurgence of conflict and violence, and that was the massacre scene a few days after the visit of the Executive Coordinator of UNV. He met with the UN Volunteers, deployed within MONUSCO, who continue to professionally their assignments under fire fighting and despite other unfortunate events. He stressed the crucial role of the United Nations Volunteers, their extremely difficult conditions of life and work.