The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is building such win-win relationships between the public sector and private sector. In 2014, UNV took part in the founding of IMPACT 2030, a global private sector-led collaboration to advance the achievement of the SDGs. While such collaboration at the global level is vital to build broad support to strengthen partnerships between the two sectors, cooperation at the local level is crucial to positively impact communities.
UNV: What do you see as the intrinsic values volunteerism can bring to the human development agenda?
Selim Jahan: Firstly, volunteerism is undoubtedly helping the human development agenda. Volunteers are working in areas such as education, health, water and sanitation, improving living conditions and, in a nutshell, providing people with all kinds of support. Volunteerism enhances human development, everywhere.
As one of the thirteen women who served as engineers in the demolition and debris management operations of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Anima supported the earthquake-affected areas by using her skills in a traditionally male-dominated field.
“Engineering is for boys while girls are supposed to study management and work in banks,” she recalls her uncle as saying when she was still a student asking for career advice years ago.
A young man walks down a crowded street. To the left of him is a gang offering him quick cash to join them. To the right is a group of young volunteers, cleaning up the nearby river, handing him a leaflet that says, “volunteer to make a difference”. Which way does the young man turn? To the left for quick cash, or to the right where his potential lies?
Today’s dialogue expands the current collaboration – specifically in support of peacebuilding and climate action, two key priority areas for Korea.
Hindprabha mobilizes youth in the district, and talks about her volunteer work: “Over the last year, 16 community youth volunteers were mobilized to work in Palghar district. We focus our efforts on reducing malnutrition deaths in the district. We help identify acutely malnourished children and refer them to a care center. We also help create awareness in the community about causes and ill-effects of malnutrition.”
Toney talks about the situation, “Open defecation poses a serious threat to the health of children in India, with 188,000 children under the age of five dying of diarrhea in the country. I took the risk and without any financial support for advance planning, took on the challenge of mass mobilizing community youth volunteers.”
One of the hardest areas to reach is Variyam, a small tribal village nestled in thick forests.
Soon he would be carrying out a host of duties to help Timor-Leste’s citizens take action against global warming.
Sangita talks about her volunteer assignment. “Through the project I manage, 12 community youth volunteers implement activities and campaigns to create awareness about women self-help groups, financial literacy and youth participation in government schemes, organize blood donations and health camps.”
I had never been to South East Asia nor had I ever worked in the UN System – it was a big change for me, professionally and personally.
Volunteering abroad took me out of my comfort zone. It was nerve-wracking the first couple of weeks, navigating the busy streets, meeting new faces every day, and attempting to communicate in Khmer, all while starting a new job in an unfamiliar setting.