Volunteer for an inclusive future: celebrating International Volunteer Day in Lao PDR
05 December 2019
United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Lao PDR joined hands with its partners at the Faculty of Engineering campus of the National University of Laos in Vientiane to promote the International Volunteers Day (IVD). IVD 2019 theme “Volunteer for an Inclusive Future” is a reminder that volunteerism strengthens solidarity and inclusiveness and provides the opportunity for all to participate in the improvement of their communities. In his welcome speech, Prof. Dr. Vimane Phoummavong, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, highlighted the importance of the theme, and Alberto Cuomo, Programme Officer at UNV Lao PDR, reiterated that volunteerism is a universally accessible powerful equalizer which can reduce inequalities worldwide.
The event was attended by more than 200 students and volunteers who were actively engaged in discussions hosted by the representatives of the involved organizations on how volunteers can contribute to an inclusive future and sharing of volunteer stories on inclusiveness, as well as the interactive awareness-building games. The event also featured participation of “Minna-no Café”, a social business run in Vientiane by persons with mental and hearing disabilities, aiming to change the perception of people with disabilities in Lao PDR.
A diverse group of partners joined hands for the celebration, including Africa Asia Development Relief Foundation Laos Volunteers, Australian Volunteers, Cuso International, France Volontaires, Green Vientiane, Huam Jai Asasamak Association, Hubbo platform, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Join Moral Foundation, Korea International Cooperation Agency, LGBTQ+ Equality, Stella association, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Lab, Vientiane Women and Youth Centre, World Economic Forum Global Shapers, Zero Waste Laos.
Continuing the IVD celebrations, UNV Lao PDR also invites all to join the “Clean Up Mekong River” volunteering joint action in collaboration with the Vientiane City Office for Management and Service (VCOMS), Zero Waste Laos, KOICA, UNDP Accelerator Lab, World Economic Forum Global Shapers and several other entities from the national civil society and international development field. The event will take place on the 7th of December at Chao Anouvong Park in Vientiane from 2.30 to 6.00 PM. It is open to all and will provide an opportunity to contribute to cleaning the riverbanks of the world’s 12th longest Mekong river.
International Volunteers Day was mandated for UN Volunteers (UNV) to coordinate by the UN General Assembly in 1985. UNV promotes IVD every year through various initiatives, building on the impact volunteers have in communities, nationally and globally. UNV Executive Coordinator, Mr Olivier Adam, in a message to mark the day says “By empowering people to act, and by increasing interactions between groups, volunteering can promote recognition of the inherent value of all people regardless of gender, age, ethnic background, disability or sexuality. Volunteerism is universal and, when accessible to everyone, can become a powerful equalizer”. Celebrated 5th December each year, IVD is an opportunity to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions. This includes the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels.