There are different interpretations of the concept of volunteering across cultures and regions, and this is equally true within Arab countries. When a wealthy citizen reacts to a natural disaster by offering to contribute money, or makes donations of blankets and food to the people affected by the disaster, this is often seen as voluntary and therefore volunteerism. Charity is a vital component of humanitarian assistance, but it is not volunteerism.
In Lebanon, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) delivers education services to Palestinian youth who, despite their refugee status, deserve the opportunity to be students.
Bringing opportunities to all
From education to employment, the opportunities offered to men and women in Gaza are not equal. With programs implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, this is slowly changing. Together, they promote gender equality in Gaza through volunteerism and women’s participation. There are currently 60 UN Volunteers in the State of Palestine, 26 are women.
Witnessing the current context from a close perspective has brought up many feelings going from fascination, frustration but also inspiration. It inspires me to excel further in my assignment and beyond, in order to give my small contribution towards more sustainable peace and development, because at the end of the day, that is the underlying essence of why we do what we do.
My assignment as an international UN Volunteer began in May 2015 as Education Officer with UNESCO Ramallah Office in Palestine. Looking back it has truly been an amazing rollercoaster on all levels.
“UN Volunteers are highly-specialized professionals who work at grassroots level to empower communities to pursue learning and education to overcome development challenges, including extreme poverty,” says UNV Executive Coordinator Olivier Adam. “Leaving no one behind is at the heart of what makes UN Volunteers special, and we are looking forward to engaging more with UNESCO.”
Simon serves as the Associate Project Officer at the institute, which follows Gandhi's principles – inclusion and non-violence.
During his assignment, Simon has been working on three projects, with a focus on empowering the young generation and training their independent thinking skills by asking them to solve real, tough global issues.
An international meeting of United Nations representatives is underway today and tomorrow, January 23-24, in Helsinki to discuss and agree on a comprehensive relief plan to provide aid in strife-torn Syria. UN Volunteers are an essential part of the response to this humanitarian crisis. Highly qualified and largely from developing countries themselves, they provide relief and ensure the delivery of basic social services to refugees, as well as their host communities, and promote peace-building.
UN Volunteers Roselyn Owour, Epher Welavunuka, Petronila Khagai, Anne Munene and Jennifer Kibicho held a sensitization session with school girls to raise awareness about gender equality, the importance of going to school and not missing classes, and the challenges facing girls around the world.
The school - World Hope Academy in the Kawangware slum in Nairobi - has a total student capacity of 400 children, most of them coming from poor families that live in the slums.
Rachel Ahmed Saadi is a UN Volunteer English Teacher with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Lebanon.
Etab, Rachel and Khaled are Palestinian refugees born and raised in Lebanon. They have been assigned as national UN Volunteers teachers of English and Arabic to Syrian-born Palestinian Refugees (PRS) pupils. Fleeing the Syrian conflict, the pupils are temporarily settled with their families in Lebanon.