International Volunteers Day 2014 celebrated in SamoaDec 5, 2014
National and international volunteer organisations based in Samoa have come together to celebrate International Volunteer Day 2014, and to help hundreds of the country’s citizens join in as well – reflecting the theme for the event this year, ‘People’s Participation’. 300 participants from across Samoa, all committed to being lasting partners in the nation’s development, took part in the day-long event that kicked off with a trek and police band at central Apia.
The day continued with a photo competition, world survey and other key activities to help promote and expand volunteerism in Samoa. Citizens were able to enjoy and participate in sporting events like soccer, bocce and volleyball, alongside the Special Olympics Samoa; participants also observed a one minute silence during the event, to remember and pay tribute to the enormous contributions of volunteers in the country and the world.
This year, international volunteer organizations such as United Nations Volunteers, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the United States Peace Corps and Volunteer Service Abroad joined hands with national organizations such as the Samoa Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organizations and the Samoa Red Cross to observe the day.
Chief guest at the event was the honourable Prime Minister of Samoa, Mr. Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi. “Samoa has for many years benefited from the efforts of all volunteers from all walks of life, building capacity and contributing their knowledge and expertise to developing the livelihood of our community,” he said. The Prime Minister highlighted the Small Island Developing States conference, which was held in September this year at Apia, as a clear demonstration of the spirit of volunteerism.
“Today we celebrate both International Volunteer Day and the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. And by celebrating two international days, we pay tribute to volunteers and to those individuals who live with a disability. We also rejoice in those individuals who have made progress in the areas of volunteerism and disabilities.”
UN Resident Coordinator a.i, Dr. Baoping Yang, applauded the spirit of voluntarism. “The concept of volunteerism is an integral part of the United Nations system and we actively promote volunteerism because we believe that it is a form of civil engagement, active participation in society, and taking ownership of one’s action in what she or he does,” he said.
Yuka Mikita, an UN youth volunteer from the Kwansei Gakuin University of Japan who is currently perusing a volunteer assignment with UNV in Samoa, said she felt gratified to be a volunteer. “I feel proud to be an UN youth volunteer and like working in Samoa and enrich my knowledge and skill,” she said.
International Volunteer Day (IVD) is a chance for both individual volunteers and the organizations that mobilize them to promote their contributions to development at local, national and international levels. By merging UN support with a grassroots mandate, IVD is a unique opportunity for volunteer organizations to work with government agencies, non-profit organizations, community groups and the private sector.
IVD was established by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/212 on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on 5 December.
Dr. Jasmine Subasat, UNV Programme Officer, Phone: +685 23670