Celebrating Youth Volunteerism on International Volunteer Day 2013
By Kazushige Tsumita
In recent years, there has been an increasing focus within the development community on youth issues and a growing emphasis on youth participation in particular.
In this context, the Five-Year Action Agenda on the United Nations Secretary-General identified working with and for young people as a top priority. To ensure greater youth engagement and exchange with young people, the Action Agenda has led to the creation of a United Nations youth volunteering modality under the auspices of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), the appointment of an Envoy of the Secretary-General on youth to facilitate greater youth engagement, and the development of a System-wide Action Plan for Youth to deepen the youth focus of existing UN system programs at all levels.
United Nations Volunteers (UNV), in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, developed a Youth Volunteering Strategy for the period 2014-2017. A key feature of the Youth Volunteering Strategy is the establishment of a youth volunteer modality. Through this modality, UNV will engage youth between the ages of 18 and 29 as volunteers to enable them to contribute to global peace and sustainable human development, while enhancing youth volunteers own skills, expertise and capacities.
Each year on International Volunteer Day (IVD), the world celebrates one of the most basic expressions of solidarity and social cohesion, volunteerism. On IVD 2013, held in December, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme highlighted the important role that youth volunteers are making to global peace and sustainable development.
Under the theme Young.Global.Active, the United Nations Volunteers programme in Rwanda joined dozens of other countries around the world in celebrating IVD through marches, music and theatre, workshops and other events. As a United Nations Volunteer serving in Rwanda I was involved in the organisation of three special events together with local authorities as well as national and international volunteer-involving organisations.
Activities started with the inauguration on 5 December of a photo exhibition on “Volunteer Engagement”, which aimed to bring together volunteers and others in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere where they could learn more about volunteerism in action.
On the following day, a knowledge fair on volunteerism took place, headed by France Volontaires. A variety of volunteer-involving organisations, including UNV, showcased their activities to youth participants and took part in a roundtable on the state of volunteerism in Rwanda.
As the principal activity for IVD 2013 at country level, a special national volunteer day was celebrated on 12 December guided by the national theme of “Volunteerism as a means to self-reliance”.
The day began with a peace walk by national and international volunteers of various organisations together with more than 1500 Rwandan youth. The walk preceded to Petit Stade in Kigali, where participants were greeted by the chairperson of the National Itorero Commission, the entity in charge of volunteer promotion in the country. After the remarks from the chairperson, UNV, The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO), among others, were awarded for their commitment and contributions to making a better world as well as for raising awareness and campaigning for popular support to volunteerism.
These different activities contributed to raise the profile and recognition of volunteerism, especially among young Rwandans, with the aim of further engaging youth through volunteerism and thereby reinforce their contribution to socio-economic development in Rwanda.
About the Author: Kazushige Tsumita is a UN Youth Volunteer currently serving as a Youth Volunteering and Skills Development Specialist in Rwanda. He is participating in the UNV programme as part of a supplementary partnership with Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan which facilitates the mobilization and pre-departure training of Japanese university students as UN Youth Volunteers.
The mission of Youth Volunteers without Frontiers (YVWF) is to embed the spirit of volunteerism in young people and to enable them to be a resource for community development. By encouraging the youth to volunteer, YVWF believe that this will have a rippling effect on the community. The vision of YVWF is to have a generation of patriotic young people who appreciate the significance of volunteerism and its contribution to development. More information..
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