This year the world celebrates the 10th anniversary of the United Nations International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10).
The success of IYV+10 will largely depend on the initiative and involvement of national-level actors.
In Zimbabwe, the national multi-stakeholder committee includes the government of Zimbabwe, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations.
IYV+10 celebrate volunteering as an expression of our common humanity and as a means to build respect, understanding, trust, solidarity and reciprocity; benefit both society at large and the individual volunteer; and contribute to human development and human rights.
Other IYV+10 objectives also include engaging the will, positive energy and innovation of millions of people towards realising the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and creating an enabling environment for citizen engagement through the development of volunteering policies, supportive legislation and other infrastructure
Recently two national representatives participated in the African Conference on “Volunteering for Peace and Development” in Senegal, organised by United Nations Volunteers (UNV).
According to Johann Atzinger, the UNV programme officer, this was a great opportunity to meet, discuss and share experiences with over 50 delegates from governments, civil society and UNV.
“Discussions about volunteering were mainly on plans and ideas at national level, including measuring volunteering impact, the development of voluntary legal frameworks, advocacy for volunteering and influencing public policies for volunteers” said Atzinger.
It is essential for all people of all backgrounds to get involved in the development and implantation of solutions to poverty eradication, combating disease, conflict prevention and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Civil society, voluntary organisations and individual community members are key players in making this a reality, and tapping into their power for good could be a major step towards achieving the MDGs by 2015.
In view of the 2015 target date of the MDGs, IYV+10 offers an opportunity to celebrate but also to assess the progress made towards achieving the four pillars of IYV, namely: recognition of volunteerism value to society; facilitation of access to volunteer opportunities; networking and promotion of inclusive volunteerism.
The concept of volunteerism can be compared to a plant taking roots and bearing fruits. Indeed it was just a seed in 2001 when our very own Catherine Masunda from the local organisation, Youth 2 Youth, attended a symposium in Geneva and Dr Guramatunhu of Eyes for Africa made the eminent patron of IYV.
This seed has since then germinated and spread.
In Zimbabwe, the volunteer flag is carried high by the men and women, boys and girls working together tirelessly for a poverty-free society.
Each year, the country joins the world in commemorating the International Volunteer Day on December 5.
This year the national coordinating committee has planned many exciting activities taking place throughout the year.
People from all walks of life are encouraged to volunteer their time, skills, resources and efforts in serving their respective communities for an enhanced rebuilding of Zimbabwe.
The corporate sector is urged to continue mobilising skills and resources and forge long term private-public partnerships through structured corporate volunteering initiatives, and organisations are encouraged to honour or thank their volunteers for all the development key achievements attained over the last ten years.
Without doubt, if volunteerism takes root, it will bear fruit throughout the future of our planet.
The national committee is compiling a database on volunteers in the country and welcomes any testimonial on individuals or organisations volunteer activities in your community.
So get involved, follow us on Facebook at “Volunteer Zimbabwe Network” or visit www.unv.org and www.unv-zim.org.