IVD 2013: The Power of Volunteering

Full Text Sharing

The power of volunteering

It is hard to describe the passion, commitment and determination of millions of people all over the world playing a positive role in their communities.

Regardless of the way you call them, be it active citizens or hidden heroes or simply volunteers, they all have something in common: their readiness to make a bit of difference in the society where they live.

There arethousands of ways of doing it:  many of them are so spontaneous that people do not even realize that are actually part of a larger movement of committed citizens that idealistically I would call United We Care movement.

It is hard to define the key ingredients of such powerful phenomenon because ultimately it is about personal and free choices of individuals deciding, without any financial or hidden interest involved, to commit themselves for a just cause.

This is the power of volunteerism, shaped and nourished by millions of small and simple acts: cleaning up a river, helping a child through after school tuition or getting involved in more organized forms of service like the ones offered by the Red Cross or the Scouts.

Despite volunteerism taking different forms and having different names, both informal and formal ways of experiencing it are equally important, representing two sides of the same coin.

Importantly volunteerism can be promoted also by the private sector through employer led service where a company allows its own employees to get involved and engaged in a social cause, offering a powerful expression of CSR commitment that establish a strong bond withlocal communities, an endeavor that can also make business sense.

Recently new forms of volunteerism have taken shape: internet based on line volunteerism and“micro-volunteering” through mobile based applications. These are all new forms that complement the more traditional but still very relevant approaches.

The 5th December of each year is celebrated worldwide as International Volunteering Day, IVD, a special day to commemorate and celebratenot only old and new forms of volunteerism but more importantly all thevolunteers all over the world. Not surprisingly, Nepal has a unique role in these celebrations.

Well rooted at the local level and very much part of the social fabric of each communities of the country, volunteerism is one of the few national invaluable assets that the Nation can boast with unlimited, uncapped potential. It is high time policy makers and donors realized this.

Today, for the first timein Nepal, the day is being celebrated in strong coordination with other important events falling during the same week: HIV/AIDS Day, International Day of Disability and Human Rights Day.

Under the leadership of United Nations Volunteers,UNV and NDVS, the program of the Government of Nepal mobilizing volunteers all over the country, a small but energetic group of organizations, including KOICA, JICA, Restless Development, VSO, ENGAGE, Peace Corps, RUNVAN, YPEER and NFDN, NSCISA and CECIare showcasing the power of volunteerismin a weeklong series of events: from a road safety campaign to a health camp in a slum area of Kathmandu, a disability sports exhibition and a rally for international disability day.

Is there any particular reasonfor such a stronger partnership? First volunteerism thrives through cross sector collaborations and joint initiatives. Second, here we are not talking about a standalone sector, not a separate concept in its own silos but rather a core essence of human beings.

While in life we succeed by competing, too often we forget about the importance of empathy, the capability to “read” the life circumstances affecting “others” and the consequential willpower to offer help.

By serving, you can help others to rediscover their own inner empathy. By doing something, even the simplest action, you can inspire them to commit a bit of their time and skills to serve a good cause.

Because the Nepali version of IVDis being celebrated in strong coordination with NFDN and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, it is important to recognize that everybody can volunteer regardless of their physical or mental abilities.

Volunteering is for all and in this sense, it is a real equalizer in a society that too often discriminates against those who are “different”.

Youth have a special role in spreading what I called a “volunteering inspired society”, a society where individuals make volunteering a truly spontaneous habit of living.

The theme of IVD 2013 is “Young, Global and Active” and each young citizen can be a true ‘incubator” for change, by inspiring their peers and connecting with other sectors of society, especially seniors and persons with disabilities, those living with HIV/AIDs, in other words those who are marginalized, too often neglected but still with a special role to play.

While ideally suited for young people, we should not forget that everybody, regardless of age and capabilities, can be part of the United We Care movement. Volunteerism is about inclusion and that’s the reason why NFDNembraced IVD 2013 so enthusiastically.

Furthermore, two years after the 10th anniversary of international year of volunteerism, it is high time the Government of Nepal finalized its own national policy on volunteerism through a very inclusive and open process.

NDVS, being a program of the National Planning Commission, is well positioned to play a much bigger role: not onlyas implementer but also coordinator, incubator and monitor. Its current leadership and small but committed team deserve credit and must be entrusted with more resources.

By empowering NDVS and even by rebranding it, Nepal could boast a “one stop shop” for service and volunteerism. The USA, Australia and UK all have already similar entities. Why not Nepal? 

Areenergized agency with more autonomy and funding can recognize and celebrate the millions of Nepali citizens who everyday dare to make a difference.

United We Care movement is already here, we just need to harness and leverage it. Meanwhile, for the time being, enjoy IVD 2013.

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

About Us

The idea is simple: creating an open “Portal” where engaged and committed citizens who feel to share their ideas and offer their opinions on development related issues have the opportunity to do...


Please fell free to contact us. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to hearing from you.

Empowered by ENGAGE,
Toward the Volunteering Inspired Society.