Through the International Volunteer Day 2020 campaign, we aim to thank volunteers for their actions and contributions during these challenging times.
In early 2020, cities all around United States , Italy, Britain and Singapore were getting themselves used to the sound of clapping every evening after 7 pm to pay homage to essential workers who went to work everyday. Started as a movement called #ClapForOurCarers by Annemarie Plas, this sequence of moment put a halt on its 10th week. Those dressed in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), going to work everyday, set their feet the most susceptibility. As the plethora of fear doesn’t ease off, schools, universities, and businesses are still struggling to go back to its normality.
The Unsung Heroes During Challenging Times
In the time of health crisis, volunteers tend to be invisible for their roles in spreading awareness on health information, mapping and collecting data of vulnerable people, identifying their needs and providing complementary roles to support medical professionals.
In times of emergency, volunteers have been the key element within the communities in providing necessary aids and services, alongside the government’s action plan.
In South East Asia and Middle East, volunteers conduct online forum alongside with WHO and governments to help detect and counter misinformation surrounding COVID-19, pinning down myths and and stereotypes that may lead to confusion and chaos. Psychologists in China are working hand in hand to provide counselling to people who are affected by COVID-19 through Beijing Volunteer Service Federation. In Senegal, volunteers are distributing hygiene kits and providing sanitising models to vulnerable groups in Dakar. In Peru, 20,000 volunteers reach out home from home by phone to people with disabilities to identify their needs.
Volunteers in Ethiopia are working hand in hand as part of government’s action plan to do temperature screening plan by going door to door. While in India, volunteers worked with fire departments in sanitising public places. Students volunteers in China initiated online teaching services for children of medical workers / staffs around Beijing.
Launch of International Volunteer Day Theme 2020
In 2001, UN General Assembly ratify a set of recommendation on procedures governments and the United nations could advocate, recognise, provide networks and facilitation, and endorse volunteerism in many forms as a way to achieve social inclusivity especially in the economic and social scopes. The year of 2001 is then known for being the International Year of Volunteers. Each year, millions of people devote their time and their prowess to volunteer as a contribution to help improve the lives of others, especially vulnerable groups mainly women, children, and indigenous people. All volunteering activities are to endorse the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to:
- help eradicate poverty
- achieve universal education
- promote gender equality and empower women
- reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health
- reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases
- help ensure environmental sustainability
Resulting from December 17, 1985 UN Resolution, governments, the United Nations, and civil society organisations work together with volunteers all over the world to celebrate annual International Volunteer Day on December 5th.
As the quarantine and other COVID-19 safety measures do not come to and end soon, creating social and economic inclusivity through volunteering can be challenging and limited. However, the spirit of solidarity formed through volunteering is multiplied and people find creative ways to connect via various technology tools to restore the life and dignity of people, especially the vulnerable groups. From health promotion, task force to produce and distribute hygiene kits / PPE, food and essential supplies provision, volunteers have move beyond limitation to help restore the lives of others.
As the pandemic is changing the lives of many, abundance of regards is given to those in the frontline and those put others’ well-being before their owns. Happy International Volunteer Day to our unsung heroes everywhere, together wen can !
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