The Gambia Government and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) yesterday commemorated the International Volunteers Day in collaboration with the newly established Network, The Gambia (VolNet-Gam), US Peace Corps and Volunteers Service Organization (VSO) at the Serrekunda West Mini Stadium.
"Today, we uphold the values of volunteerism - solidarity, reciprocity, mutual trust and belonging which are universal and transcend the boundaries of culture, language and geography", asserted Sara Musilla, the UNV Programme Officer.
Madam Musilla who delivered the speech on behalf of the UNV Executive Coordinator said every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world give their time and share their skills. She said they are driven by a desire to contribute to the well being of society without expectation of material reward. She said their efforts promote civic values and social cohesion.
"This experience creates transformational relationships which can strengthen a community's physical, economic, spiritual and social well being", she pointed out.
The UNV Programme Officer said volunteerism helps to build an active and healthy civil society, critical to peace that is durable and development that is sustainable. She mentioned how UN Volunteers who support UN Peacekeeping and Peace building Missions bring stability to societies damaged by violence. She said they share their skills with community based development projects.
"Volunteerism plays a significant role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It plays a healing role by rebuilding trust in a post conflict society", she added.
Madam Musilla said volunteerism's values of solidarity and engagement inspire them to live sustainably so that their human actions do not jeopardize the future generation. She pointed that the world is facing extraordinary challenges. She said we can meet these challenges when we commit ourselves to upholding volunteerism.
"Let us celebrate the role of volunteerism in building the future that we want and recognize the contributions volunteers make worldwide", she disclosed.
Mr. Adama Beyai, the VolNet Chairperson told participants about the harmonization of all volunteers in the country into a network to commemorate the day. He emphasized the need to celebrate the day to encourage the volunteers in national development. He calls on the government, NGOs and all stakeholders to commemorate the day.
"It will be a day for recognition of global volunteerism in all its diverse forms and contributions to peace and sustainable development", he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the event was observed with a parade from the Shell Petrol Station on Kairaba Avenue (Traffic Light) to the Serrekunda West Mini Stadium. There was also a football match organized for senior secondary school students. The program was attended by many participants by international and local volunteers in the country.