I was working for the Irrigation Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Japan (currently the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) when I was invited to speak at a symposium hosted by the United States Consulate in Fukuoka. At the event, the Principal Officer gave me a book entitled The Good War: the U.N.'s World-Wide Fight Against Poverty, Disease and Ignorance. That chance encounter, in the summer of 1969, changed my life.
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.
THE STARK REALITY: FOOD CRISIS IN SOMALIA, SOUTH SUDAN, YEMEN AND NIGERIA
The reality of the escalating famine lingers among some of the world’s most vulnerable groups of people in Eastern Africa, and beyond. Having already endured the effects of civil war, poverty, and terrorism, the intensifying need for humanitarian assistance continues to increase throughout Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and northern Nigeria.
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.
Socotra, Yemen: As a news editor of a foreign affairs column in the Czech Republic, I was supplying readers with depressing news about tragedies and wrongdoings from all around the world. My subsequent years in advertising gave me an impression that my work was fun but people would have had more pleasant lives without it. I wanted to make myself useful, so I registered my profile in the UNV database of potential candidates for volunteer assignments.
Amran, Yemen: When I was selected to serve as a UNV volunteer Associate Field Officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Yemen in June 2008, I was very anxious but filled with enthusiasm of working in a different social and cultural context as compared to Liberia, my country of origin.