Sarah, a 26-year-old Tunisian, runs every day to her office in the Beja Municipality, where she has been working over the last year for the project Madinatouna (Our city). The project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in Tunisia in support ofthe National Federation of Tunisian Cities, and in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation - GIZ), CILG-VNG International, Cities Alliance and MedCities.
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.
Given record levels of youth unemployment, and political and social instability, young people in the Arab Region and around the world need positive role models more than ever.
When young people themselves provide those role models, in those who have overcome social exclusion, underemployment and poverty to bring about positive changes in their communities and countries, the effects are even more powerful.
The Caravan of Volunteerism, organized by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Tunisia, kicks off its activities today as part of UN Day events in the city. Organized as part of the Arab Youth Volunteering for a Better Future project, the caravan will depart from Tunis and travel across the North African country for 14 days, reaching communities and youth in eight governorates, including the most remote areas of Tunisia.