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International Volunteer Day: Volunteer to Make a Difference

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International Volunteer Day being observed today is a chance for individual volunteers, communities and organizations to promote their contributions to development at the local, national and international levels. By combining UN support with a grassroots mandate, International Volunteer Day is a unique opportunity for people and volunteer-involving organizations to work with government agencies, non-profit institutions, community groups, academia and the private sector.

What is International Volunteer Day?

The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on 5 December.
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. Every day, volunteers dedicate time and effort to ensure the inclusion of those often left behind, drive climate action and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What is the theme for 2021?

The  theme this year is: Volunteer now for our common future
When people are encouraged to get involved in solving problems, the solutions are more likely to be feasible and lasting. Volunteers engage communities and build a people-centric movement to help build a better and safer future for us all.
For the generations of TOMORROW, we must take responsibility for the changes needed to build a better future NOW. Encouraging, recognizing and promoting volunteerism is an important part of creating a more equal and inclusive future for communities and worldwide.

How to Volunteer

1. Robin Hood Army

 The Robin Hood Army is a volunteer-based, zero-funds organization that works to get surplus food from restaurants and the community to serve less fortunate people. Their local chapters are run by friends and colleagues, who hope to create a difference in their own unique way. For example, restaurants in the neighbourhood Green Park, will contribute to the homeless of the locality, through volunteers who live in Green Park. “Robins” are largely students and young working professionals – everyone does this in their free time. The lesser fortunate sections of society Robins serve include homeless families, orphanages, patients from public hospitals, and old age homes.
How to volunteer: All you need to give is 3 hours of your time per week at least twice a month to make a real impact. Fill up the volunteer sign-up form here. If you manage a restaurant or generally want to contribute regular meals from your family or workplace, connect with Robin Hood Army to contribute surplus food. Another way to volunteer is teaching kids at the Robin Hood Academy. Creating access to education is the purest form of nation building.

2. People For Animals

Animal welfare is not just about animals. It is about us. Our living conditions, our children, our earth. People for Animals, also known as PFA, is India’s largest animal welfare organization with a nationwide network of 26 hospitals, 165 units, 60 mobile units, and 2.5 Lakh members. They work to rescue and rehabilitate sick and needy animals. PFA sets up and run shelters, ambulance services, sterilization programs, treatment camps and disaster rescue missions for animals. They conduct education programs in schools, fight cases in court, and lobby on animal issues in parliament.
Are you passionate about animals? Do you want to work for the welfare of the least privileged creatures? People For Animals are in constant search of people who are caring towards animals, sensitive towards the environment and dedicated towards their work.
How to volunteer: You can volunteer at Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre, Raja Garden, Near Shivaji College and Home Guard Office, New Delhi. The nature of work includes public relations, adoption and donation drives for stray animals, social media management, grooming, cleaning and feeding animals. Interested volunteers need to write to Ms. Ambika Shukla: ambikashukla@yahoo.com and find the Volunteer Form here.

3. Save the Children

Save the Children is India’s leading independent child rights’ NGO, which works in 18 states of the country. Beginning its journey in 2008 in India, and registered as ‘Bal Raksha Bharat’, we have changed the lives of more than 11 million (1.1 crore) children. Undertaking various initiatives in the field of education, health & nutrition, and child protection, we are constantly on the lookout for passionate individuals driven to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.
How to volunteer: Save the Children believes that until and unless members of the civil society are involved actively in the process of change and development, nothing can happen. To make this change happen, they invite you to come and be part of the Save the Children volunteer programme. Volunteer at Save the Children – to work for the welfare of poor children and underprivileged children and their families. The NGO truly believes that volunteers are the backbone of every organization – not only do they carry the organization’s ideals within them and help the organization in implementing them on the ground, they also spread the message far and beyond, sensitizing the society towards the cause.
To get started, fill up the Save the Children volunteer registration form on the link https://www.savethechildren.in/volunteer/

4. Bhumi

Bhumi is one of the largest volunteer organisations in India. Founded in August 2006 by a group of friends, Bhumi works on a conviction that every underprivileged child deserves quality education. It works with a volunteer-based system wherein it invites the youth of the country to channelise their talents to pave the path for educated and poverty-free India.
Bhumi takes in young volunteers below the age of 30 to spread the message of the importance of literacy in street children’s lives, as well as environment conservation. The organisation is present in Chennai, Goa, Jaipur, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi, among other cities in India.
How to Volunteer: Bhumi asks for an individual to volunteer for a minimum of two hours a week for teaching or mentoring children at a community centre or an orphanage. The volunteers can also work on ideas to save the environment, use creative skills to make posters, think of fundraising campaigns, and help during events. All one needs to do to join the organisation as a volunteer is fill out a registration form at Volunteer – Bhumi. When the organisation receives the information of the aspiring volunteer, they reach out to them for further coordination.

5. Sounds of Silence

Founded in 2012 by Sumit Gandhi in Mumbai, Sounds of Silence is an NGO with just one aim: brighten the future of hearing-impaired students. It is an initiative straight from the heart of a chosen few who wish to fill the lives of a million hearing-impaired children across cities, borders and nations with the beauty of expression and the art of communication. Their vision is to ensure deafness with dignity, and a society where deaf people have equal opportunities to participate in all walks of life.
Sounds of Silence (SOS) is India’s first technology based NGO, empowering the hearing impaired individuals to overcome the barriers to communication that they face, and providing them a new way to interact with the world. It aims to improve the lives of deaf and mute kids by launching 2-month training course on Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing, and Data Entry.
How to Volunteer: The SOS Volunteer will be responsible for teaching in Schools for the hearing impaired in Mumbai covered across a period of 3 to 4 months. The medium of instruction will be strictly in English as we aim to empower the hearing-impaired for chat-based tech support. The volunteers need to have good communication skills and fluency in English, good interpersonal and soft skills, ability to teach and engage the deaf and dumb, and maturity of handling hearing impaired kids. The volunteering program requires a commitment of 2 hours a week for 18 weeks spread across a period of 3 to 4 months. To register, visit Volunteer with SOS – Sounds of Silence.

UN Volunteers Programme

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. We work with partners to integrate over 10,000 qualified, highly motivated and well supported UN Volunteers into development programming and promote the value and global recognition of volunteerism. UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
UNV works under a dual mandate – to mobilize volunteers for the United Nations System and to advocate for the importance of volunteerism in development worldwide. The United Nations General Assembly created UNV in 1970, with an initial mandate to provide qualified and motivated volunteers for the United Nations System in support of peace and development in operational countries. Over nearly five decades, the scope of UNV’s mandate has expanded, driven by a constantly changing global environment and wider recognition of the value of volunteerism. A series of UN decisions now direct UNV activities and results to also focus on youth engagement and on demonstrating how integrating volunteering in peace and development projects and programmes can widen and deepen impact.
How to Volunteer: In order to volunteer for any agency or programme of the UN, an individual has to apply through UNV programme. To volunteer for the UN, an individual can visit The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme | UNV, to find the volunteering opportunity that suits them the best, and apply for it.
Volunteering for the UN can be very different from volunteering for an organisation because the former would require tremendous commitment. Most of these opportunities are not part-time, but full-time volunteering opportunities. These opportunities provide the volunteers a chance to make a difference at the grassroots level, and be committed to resolving the issues.