As an international UN Volunteer specialized in communication, Catalin was one of the first people to be sent to Cox’s Bazar to document the response of WHO Bangladesh. “Prior to the escalation of this crisis, there were already established partnerships between WHO, the government and other health partners. With the massive influx of people from Myanmar, strategies had to be adapted to this critical situation,” explains Catalin.
The speed and scale of the influx has resulted in a critical humanitarian emergency, with refugees reliant on humanitarian assistance for food and other life-saving needs.
Ashraful Islam is a national UN Volunteer supporting the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in developing women-friendly spaces, gathering data from the field and distributing medical kits.
There are 27 volunteers serving in the Jonglei region for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. They decided to make their special day about others rather than themselves in the spirit of volunteerism, which is all about giving.
UNV with the special support of UNDP Sri Lanka under the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP) joined hands with farm organizations, students of the Wayamba University, DMC Srilanka, the Volunteer Task Force and nearly 500 community volunteers to plant a select variety of trees on the riparian buffer of 10 selected tanks in the region of Galgamuwa Kurunegala.
Mr. Dominic Allen, Chief of the UNV Office in New York, opened the event welcoming the over 100 participants from Member States, UN entities and other interested partners, including serving and former volunteers. Mr. Allen acknowledged the immense contribution of volunteers and the significant role that volunteers play as first responders in the aftermath of crisis and as mobilizers and campaigners in crisis prevention and preparedness.
This year, United Nations Volunteers in Egypt have collaborated with the Egyptian Red Crescent in implementing a joint 3-day event from the 5th to the 7th of December. This event aims to shed light on how #VolunteersActFirst support their communities and reinforce joint action on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With 17 national UN Volunteers assigned to field duty stations, UNV Kenya is well embedded in the host agency, UNDP programs and projects on the ground. Under the umbrella of the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Mr. Nahashon Lotaruk, a national UN Volunteer in the arid Turkana-county, is working closely with local communities on income generating activities to help improve livelihoods.
What was once an informal network of helpers to people in need, many volunteers are now highly organized and play a fundamental role in humanitarian and development initiatives through organizations, clubs and groups that span the world. In recognition of the contributions they make, governments have taken steps to promote volunteer action by strengthening policies and institutions, and by increasing funding to support volunteer infrastructure.
The event, under the title “Volunteers as First Responders in Times of Crisis: Volunteers for resilience and solidarity,” kicked off International Volunteer Day (also called IVD) worldwide.
The event aligned with the IVD global campaign to promote volunteers as first responders in times of crisis and instability, helping people to rebuild their lives in the immediate aftershock of tragic events.
UNV Executive Coordinator Mr. Olivier Adam acknowledged the efforts of the Nepali people after the devastating 2015 earthquake:
Many people in rural communities in Nepal have been living in cramped conditions in temporary shelters for the last two years, so Preity decided to volunteer to help build earthquake resilient homes for earthquake victims.
Preity said, “After the devastating earthquakes hit Nepal in 2015, communities near the epicentre of the earthquake suffered a massive loss of lives, houses and livelihoods. Many people from the epicentre district of Gorkha needed support to start their life again, as they are not financially strong enough to build a new house for themselves.