„Volunteerism is a two way street. Even as volunteers help generate positive change for others, their own lives are often transformed by the act of volunteering itself,“ said UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his message on the occasion of International Volunteer Day.
On 5th of December, the volunteer community in Cambodia together with volunteers all over the world celebrated the International Volunteer Day. On that day, over 750 young volunteers attended the 3rd National Forum on Volunteerism and IVD fair organized in Phnom Penh by the National Committee for Promoting Volunteerism under the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Youth & Sport.
Creating positive role-models for youth in Cambodia is very important and therefore the celebrations were held under the motto “Be a role model, be a volunteer!” in line with the global theme this year: “Young. Global. Active.” The purpose of both events was to recognize the hard work of volunteers all over Cambodia, demonstrate the benefits of volunteerism to the society as whole as well as to individual volunteers.
The 3rd National Forum on Volunteerism aimed at motivating participants to engage more in their communities and provide information about different opportunities in Cambodia and abroad.
In his opening speech Dr. Marc Derveeuw form UNFPA stressed the importance of volunteers for the society: “We recognize that young volunteers are delivering critical services: they help to keep our environment clean, many volunteers in Cambodia are tutoring, teaching, mentoring, coaching and helping their peers, some elderly, or disadvantaged groups, or urban poor in Cambodia today are having a better life because of the work of volunteers. “
Michelle Vizzard, First Secretary of Development Cooperation of the Australian Embassy highlighted the significance of volunteerism, which could also be a stepping stone in professional career: „I have been a volunteer both in Australia and internationally and I credit that experience with helping me to gain the position I hold today.”
During the sessions with representatives of the private sector and the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme, the youth had an opportunity to engage with senior staff for inspirational discussion on skills development and intercultural learning through volunteerism. Young volunteers were especially interested in the information about the ASEAN Youth Volunteer programme, presented by Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran Kaur Gill, Executive Director of AYVP@AsiaEngage, and opportunities to volunteer abroad and gain international experience.
The National Forum included a presentation about MY World survey by UNV Intern Peter Prix, which stressed the importance of gathering voices from all over the world in order to create the new Post-2015 development agenda. Many participants used the opportunity to vote and choose their priorities in the survey right during the event.
During the IVD fair, participants had the opportunity to closely engage with representatives of more than ten national and international volunteer involving organizations, members of VolCam, to talk to experienced volunteers and find out more about benefits of volunteering and its great impact. Volunteers could enjoy performances by local dance group supporting children education Tiny Toones and the evening was concluded by a concert of Koh Thlok band.
IVD preparations and the willingness by all stakeholders to recognize volunteers across Cambodia were supported by a launch of a nationwide campaign, Recognize Me!. The purpose of this campaign is to enhance the recognition of volunteers and provide them with a space to share their stories and become positive role-models for their peers and in their communities. With the different pictures received, the UNV FU created a „face map“ of volunteers in Cambodia. During IVD celebrations, participants were encouraged to join this campaign and share their story, picture and video.
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Photos: Courtesy of Jiri Pasz and Veronika Jemelikova, UNV Cambodia, 2013