South Africa celebrates International Volunteer Day

Dec 5, 2016

Kgomotso Mafokwane a volunteer at ADAPT presenting a poem - My mother with bare hands and feet volunteered for me!

United Nations Volunteers in partnership with a local volunteer organization, Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training (ADAPT) joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Volunteer Day (IVD) in an event that was held in Alexandra Township – Johannesburg.

The IVD 2016’s theme is #GlobalApplause give volunteers a hand, provides an opportunity for people around the world to give volunteers much-deserved #GlobalApplause for all they do in making peace and sustainable development a reality.  A day well attended by UN Volunteers and other volunteers was marked by showcasing of different activities which were organized by the residents of   Alexandra Township through ADAPT. The UNV South Africa field office also used the event as an opportunity to recognize and award the 6 UNV doctors who completed their assignments, serving in different hospitals in the Limpopo Province.

In his welcoming remarks, the Programme Officer for UNV South Africa, Mr. Ambrose Toolit took time to explain to the audience the concept of volunteerism in contributing to peace and development. Since independence South Africa has embraced the role of volunteers in enhancing its    development goals.

 “Volunteering in South Africa is an integral part of the culture rooted in social, cultural, and community daily practices of belonging and caring for one another. The ethos of   volunteerism is infused with values such as Ubuntu - I am, because of you, solidarity, reciprocity, mutual trust, belonging and empowerment, all of which contribute significantly to quality of life and basic expression of human relationships,” he said.

Mr Toolit also added that volunteers make contributions to society by generating well-being for people and their communities. Volunteerism enables people to develop the skills to engage and participate beyond the household or village expanding participation of young people for the long-term stability of societies, as it strengthens social integration, while enhancing personal development and skills.

According to the global statement that was made by the UNV Executive Director, Mr Richard Dictus, more than one billion people volunteer globally, internationally and in their own communities, driven by a deep commitment to making the world a better place, for all. In that statement, he joined the rest of the world in giving a global applause to all UNVs worldwide.

“5th December International Volunteer Day, is a time to take stock and celebrate the efforts of all volunteers wherever they are. I would like to express my gratitude to and admiration for the billion volunteers worldwide who are making peace and sustainable development a reality,” said Mr Dictus in his statement.

The Assistant Resident Representative for UNDP, Mr. Khepi Shole who made a keynote address on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator / UNDP Resident Representative Mr Gana Fofang, contextualized the South African event and acknowledged the volunteers that have worked and are still working in different fields in the country. “Let’s recognize and applaud the efforts of the thousands of people responding to the needs of their fellow human beings through volunteering in responding to several challenges in our communities and country. For example, in South Africa the United Nations Volunteers for over two decades partnered with Government of South Africa in mobilizing qualified and experienced women and men of different nationalities to work together on projects and campaigns that contributes to the achievement of millennium development goals,” said Mr Shole.

IVD celebrates and recognizes the power and potential of volunteers worldwide and their contributions to sustainable development. Also, the event is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organizations to celebrate their efforts, share their values and promote their work within their communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, government authorities, and the private sector.

In her closing remarks, the Chief Executive Officer for ADAPT Ms Irene Khumalo thanked the UNV for partnering with her organization and proving an opportunity for people to understand the concept of volunteerism.

“We are trying to highlight the importance of volunteerism in our country, the people that are here are now in a better position to understand what it means to volunteer. It is amazing to see all these international specialised doctors being recognized here as they volunteered their skills,” said Ms Khumalo.

The event was also attended by representatives from the Department of Health, a local organization called Grassroots Soccer, Southern Africa Association of Youth Clubs (SAAYC), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Alexandra Hospice, Alexandra Traditional Healers Association, and Rethabile.

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