The World Celebrates International Volunteer Day 2017Dec 11, 2017
International Volunteer Day (IVD) mandated by the UN General Assembly, is held each year on 5 December. This is the day that volunteers and organizations worldwide celebrate their work and, achievements, and share their values while promoting their respective work.
The theme for the 2017 IVD “#VolunteersActFirst. Here. Everywhere.”
This week, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in Samoa will mark the 2017 IVD with a rubbish collecting activity on Friday 8 December 2017 at Sogi.
Being a volunteer is not easy. Indeed, by its definition, it is an activity that is undertaken for no financial gain. Volunteers are at the frontline of many challenges with hopes of making a difference through their contributions to development at the national and international levels.
The UNV programme is mandated to support and promote IVD celebrations worldwide. Every year, over 6,500 UN Volunteers serve with UN entities in some of the most challenging environments across the world, and 12,000 UN Online Volunteers complete over 20,000 assignments online through the UNV Online Volunteering service. The UN system in Samoa engages four to six volunteers every year on short term contracts. There are currently eight international and one national UN Volunteers working in Samoa.
In a message expressing gratitude and appreciation for the work of UN Volunteers in Samoa, UN Resident Coordinator ad interim Ms. Nisha highlighted that IVD is a day of recognition and appreciation for the work done by Volunteers.
“On this IVD, we acknowledge the volunteers and their host organizations as they celebrate their efforts, share their values, and promote their work among communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations organizations, government authorities and the private sector.
Here in Samoa, UN Volunteers, a mechanism of the United Nations, formally supports the work of seven local and international UN Volunteers. These volunteers work on projects relating to climate change, disaster risk reduction, gender equality and youth employment. Today, I recognise and applaud their invaluable contribution to the work of the United Nations in Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau,” said Ms Nisha.
“On behalf of the One-UN family in Samoa, I wish you all a happy International Volunteer Day,” she added.
Here are some of the UN Volunteers and their work in Samoa
I am a Programme Analyst to the Samoan Women in Political Leadership ('SWIP') Project. This is a project which aims to strengthen opportunities for women’s participation in politics and leadership at all levels, promotion of inclusive political processes and to promote the importance of the SDGs.
Of note in this project, is that for the first time there will be a focus on youth leadership and creating viable pathways for young women to become more involved in their communities and thereby develop leadership skills for the future. As a law graduate, I also have a unique opportunity to advise the office on questions relating to human rights and the rule of law issues within the broader governance space.
I am currently working on a one year assignment focusing is on the UN’s projects in Tokelau in close collaboration with Tokelau.
As the UNV Programme Manager for UN Programmes in Tokelau, my role is to drive programming and implementation in areas that Tokelau has prioritised for UNDP’s support, in particular governance, environment and energy, climate change and disaster risk reduction.
Like all volunteers, I am encouraging, mobilizing and supporting co-workers, fellow UN Volunteers and members of the local community to play an active part in development on a voluntary basis.
A pressing number of development challenges exist in Samoa. Therefore, action is needed now to turn threats of climate change exacerbated floods, droughts and cyclones into action. Having worked previously in climate change adaptation, working as a United Nations Volunteer in Samoa has given me a different and unique on-the-ground implementation experience of how development translates into practice.
Recent extreme events in the Vaisigano River Catchment have resulted in approximately US$200million worth of damages and climate projections for Samoa suggest that the risks will increase. This can potentially undermine development progress in urban Apia, where the majority of the population and economic activity is based.
In response the Government of Samoa, in conjunction with UNDP and with funding from the Green Climate Fund, is operationalising a comprehensive flood management solution key output of which is to strengthen adaptive capacity and reduce exposure to climate risks of vulnerable livelihoods and infrastructure in the Vaisigano catchment.
Working on this project has allowed me to engage in tackling development challenges and volunteering to translate development into practice and targeted actions as we implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Being prepared for natural hazards that can impact us is fundamental to ensuring the safety of people and communities. Samoa, just like many other Pacific island countries, is exposed to a number of different natural hazards, such as tropical cyclones and tsunamis. Being exposed, however, does not necessarily mean that we are vulnerable, and we can do our part to minimise the risk of the natural hazards causing a disaster.
The most effective kind of learning is learning by doing, which makes drills particularly useful in preparing for future hazards. Together with the Samoa Disaster Management Office, UNDP has organised tsunami evacuation drills in six coastal schools in the Aleipata district in October 2017. As a UN Volunteer I am glad to have participated in the organisation of this drill exercise, which has contributed to improved preparedness of students by allowing them to practice what they need to do in the event of a tsunami.
I came to this country with hopes of enhancing volunteerism and support in Samoa. I believe action is more effective than you think. Taking action is the way to better any country including Samoa. A number of developmental challenges exist in Samoa therefore action must be taken if we want change.
I work as an IT associate within UNDP. The assignment is a challenge but I do my best to carry forward in what I do. Working as a United Nations Volunteer in Samoa has given me a different but priceless experience of how development translates into practice.
I strongly believe everyone needs to be active to ensure change to better the country and with that making the world a better place.
Socially responsible for private sector to encourage contribution that would concretely increase employment numbers in rural Savaii.