‘Start young, be proactive!’ was the advice from National UN Volunteer Sathaboramana Kheang as she spoke to young university students from her alma mater. On Saturday 21st June, Sathaboramana Kheang joined representatives from five different VolCam organizations, United Nations Volunteers (UNV), France Volontaires (FV) , VSO, Khmer Youth Association (KYA) and Youth Resource Development Programme (YRDP) to lead an information session on volunteerism Department of International Studies (DIS) of the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL) at Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) university students.
The session began with UNV Programme Officer, Isabelle Devylder, an International UN Volunteer herself, briefing the students on the role of Volunteerism and the different actors supporting this sector globally, regionally and in Cambodia. The objective was to encourage students to engage and to introduce them to VolCam , the network of international and local Volunteer service agencies and volunteer involving organizations in Cambodia where information about volunteer opportunities in the country is available.
Next, KYA presented on their organization, outlining the different projects that they are involved in such as water sanitation and their disability programmes.In particular Sokha Yet mentioned the climate change awareness raising Bike Tour, which took place on May 4th in partnership with the EU. 3000 people took part in this very successful event: “Europe on A Bicycle: Green is Beautiful”. A representative from YRDP spoke about their training programmes which are attended by on average 700 university students per year as well as their Youth Initiative Projects where the participants visit NGOs and Government institutions that deal with topics relating to the YRDP training courses.
It was not just local organizations that attended the information session. Both VSO Cambodia and France Volontaires took this opportunity to introduce the students to their organizations and advocate for Volunteerism in Cambodia. Pierre-Yves Devroute from France Volontaires explained what they do in Cambodia such as: advise and guide volunteers, organize activities regarding the promotion of different kinds of volunteering as well as organizing workshops and events for example the screening of The Last Refuge, Saturday 28th June at 4:00 pm at the France Volontaires Office. Men Vannavy from VSO Cambodia’s presentation concentrated on the International Citizen Service Programme (ICS) which is a volunteering experience for young people who want to make a difference in some of the world’s poorest communities. In Cambodia, ICS run projects in the Northeastern part of the country. Cambodian youth spend three months working alongside young people from the UK as a team to tackle issues that affect the local community.
Finishing off the session, Isabelle Devylder informed the students about the different ways to volunteer with UNV: UN Volunteers, UN Youth Volunteers, and On-line Volunteers. Sathaboramana Kheang, a National UN Volunteer, gave an inspirational speech to the students, urging them to get involved in any way they can and letting the students know, that although volunteering may not always be the easiest path, it is a worthwhile one.
“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless”