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Volunteers act first, saving lives and livelihoods

Dec 06, 2017

More than a billion people across the world volunteer each year.

New Delhi: “India’s true power lies in the hands of its youth. Believe in yourself. You have the power to change the entire country,” said Suresh Raina, member of the Indian Cricket team, while addressing a gathering of over 500 young boys and girls at the National Conference on International Volunteer Day (IVD), 2017.

Held every year on the 5 December, IVD seeks to promote the contributions of volunteers at the local, national and international level, together with communities, civil society organizations, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, government authorities, and the private sector the world over.

“Volunteering is a part of Indian culture. The Government of India has always relied on these volunteers, and they have been important partners in all kinds of nation-building activities” said Asit Singh, Joint Secretary (Youth Affairs), Ministry of Youth and Sports, Government of India. "We are committed to extending all possible support to the volunteers in their quest," he promised.

This year’s IVD theme, Volunteers Act First, highlights the crucial role played by volunteers in times of crisis all over the world despite the security risks they often face.

Wherever there is suffering, volunteers act to save lives and restore human dignity. They are often first responders in times of natural disasters, economic instability, forced migration or humanitarian emergencies.

More than a billion people across the world volunteer each year. These numbers always go up when tragedy strikes. Despite their contributions, the vital role of volunteers is not always sufficiently recognized or acknowledged. “Out of the global number of 7,000 official UN Volunteers, 100 are based out of India alone,” said Yuri Afanasiev, United Nations Resident Coordinator in India, while highlighting the multifaceted roles volunteers play in times conflict and peace.

Kamal Kishore, member of the National Disaster Management Authority of India congratulated students and volunteers on IVD 2017. "In India and across the world, disasters have been successfully managed not because of the work of government bodies and scientific institutions, but because of the dedication and commitment of volunteers," he said.

Speakers at the conference included Ritesh Mehta, Head of Programmes, India, South and Central Asia, Facebook, and Ankit Kwatra, Founder, Feeding India.

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