East Africa: EAC States Devise Youth Exchange Program

Plans are underway for East African Community (EAC) partner states to start exchanging young workers on a volunteering basis.

A youth development officer with the Prime Minister's Office Labour, Youth, Employment and Persons with Disability, Nassibu Richard Mwaifunga confided to the 'Daily News' that EAC member states were currently working on a five-year plan of youth exchange to work in the six partner states.

"The young men and women will be volunteering in any of the partner states should the plan materialize," hinted Mr Mwaifunga on the sidelines of International Volunteer Day held here at the weekend.

According to Mr Mwaifunga, Tanzania and Burundi had already developed a special draft to execute such a plan.

Speaking earlier at the event held at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung(DSW), Uganda Ambassador to Tanzania Richard Kabonero rallied the youth to promote the spirit of volunteerism for the benefit of their countries.

Drawing lessons from Tanzania, the envoy said volunteering gives a sense of pride and identity.

"Through Mwalimu Nyerere's Ujamaa socialist ideology, Tanzanians built resilience through volunteering," he said.

On her part, Peace Corps Country Director Stephanie Joseph said there was power in volunteerism, noting that the virtue helped in shaping individuals, communities and the world.

"There's an enormous social political force in volunteering," she said.

According to Ms Joseph, 30 percent of all volunteers were in the formal sector, while the remaining 70 volunteered in the informal sector.

She further disclosed that 57 per cent of all volunteers in the world were women.

The Peace Corps Country Director equally challenged authorities to push the volunteering agenda in Tanzania.

In her remarks, United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) Resident Representative Christine Musisi described volunteerism as a true gift to the social-economic sphere.

The UNDP Resident Representative also challenged the youth to bring the spirit of volunteering beyond their normal assignments.

The United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) coordinates International Volunteer Day on 5 December every year to recognize and promote the tireless work, not just of UN Volunteers, but of volunteers across the globe.

The day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) through resolution A/RES/40/212 on December 1 1985 which mandated UNV to coordinate its observance globally.

It also offers an opportunity for volunteer-involving organizations and individual volunteers to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels.

According to the UN, more than a billion people volunteer globally, which is equivalent to over 109 million full-time workers.

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