Conakry - Guinea — Forty ECOWAS volunteers deployed to Guinea have been charged to see themselves as ambassadors of the region and to undertake initiatives that will contribute to the development of the country.
"You arrived in our country at a moment when it is fully engaged with the process of disconnecting with the negative aspects of its past and undertaking changes aimed at improving the material conditions of the population," Elhadj Mohamed Cisse, Secretary General of the Ministry of International Cooperation, told the volunteers at the end of their weeklong induction programme in Conakry at the weekend.
He extolled the values of voluntarism behind the programme saying it will enable them to contribute to the realization of ECOWAS' objectives for the promotion of the socio-economic development of its Member States.
The Secretary General challenged the volunteers to impact maximally on their host communities and to bequeath an enduring impression as pioneers of the programme in the country.
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are hosting the pilot programme which was launched in Liberia in 2010 as a platform to maximise the expertise for development in the region.
In an earlier address to the ceremony, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop said the induction has equipped the volunteers to better appreciate the regional integration project and their role.
She urged them to see themselves as occupying a privileged position in this process and in appreciation of the development role of the Community, its architecture, the peculiarities of their host country and the challenges that confront the region and its citizens in pursuit of the integration project.
In the speech delivered by Mr. Francis Njoaguani, Director of the Ouagadougou-based ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, the Commissioner urged the volunteers to be broad minded and prepared to adapt in discharging their mandate of contributing their expertise to regional development and promoting a culture of peace in the region.
The ECOWAS Volunteers Programme (EVP) seeks to promote peace, unity, democracy, sustainable development and regional integration.
A minute's silence was observed at the opening ceremony in memory of Mr. Stephen Udu Arusi, a pioneer ECOWAS Volunteer who died n Liberia and Mr. Namory Traore, a staff of Guinea's ministry of International Cooperation who contributed to the implementation of the programme but died before the induction.
The 33 volunteers initially deployed to the Guinea last December from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Togo and Senegal, were joined for the induction this month by seven others, bringing the total to 40.
Aged between 18 and 35, the volunteers contribute to strengthening the capacity of their host country especially in the areas of health, education, civil society and youth development.
During the induction, the volunteers were acquainted with the ECOWAS' objectives, processes, programmes and projects, as well as other issues relate to their mandate.
After their Pledge of Commitment in the presence of the Community's regional and national authorities, they were also introduced to the ECOWAS Anthem, Logo and Flag as important components of the organization's brand.