|An exhibition of Vietnamese photos taken by Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) celebrates International Volunteer Day. This event was held yesterday by the Ho Chi Minh Youth Union and United Nations Volunteers in Ha Noi. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Tran|
HCM CITY — Hundreds of local and foreign volunteers packed Hoang Van Thu Park in HCM City last Saturday to celebrate volunteerism on the occasion of the International Volunteer Day (December 5).
The event attracted the participation of non-governmental organisations and charity associations that have extensive experience working with volunteers.
The organisations, whose activities range from fighting AIDS to helping disadvantaged children, acknowledged volunteers’ valuable contributions.
The park, located near the airport, looked like a colourful campsite, with many tents set up representing participating organisations. Festive activities, including dancing, singing and mime performances as well as games and quizzes, were part of the event.
In each tent, the volunteers demonstrated their work and craft products made by the disadvantaged were on display.
Le Vu Chau Giang, a final-year student who has volunteered for Saigon Children’s Charity and Education for Development, said her involvement in project co-ordinating, translating, event organising and fund-raising had helped broaden her skills.
“Volunteer work helped me build up my confidence, enlarge my network and raise my awareness about the well-being of the community,” Giang said.
She said it had played a role in earning her a place in the International Conference for Youth next year in Dubai.
Le Thi Khanh, 77 years old and affectionately called Ngoai (grandma), said the Women’s Charity Association at 186 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 3 had an enormous need for local and foreign volunteers to teach and play with disadvantaged children in the fields of English, computers, arts, singing, dancing and academic subjects.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang of Operation Smile Vietnam, who recruits volunteers to take care of children who have had surgery, said commitment was essential for a volunteer.
Kirsten Theuns, country director for the non-profit group Education for Development (EFD), which organised the event, agreed that high commitment was more important than fluent English or other skills.
“The EFD is set up by volunteers and they play a crucial role in our achieving the missions. We really appreciate their work,” said Kirsten.
In Ha Noi on Sunday, thousands of Vietnamese and international volunteers attended a ceremony organised by the UN Volunteer Programme and the Youth Union.
Speaking at the ceremony, Secretary of the Youth Union Nguyen Dac Vinh said the union launched a nationwide campaign targeting young volunteers in 2000. Since then, the campaign has continuously developed and attracted participation from many young people who had made great contributions to the country. Specific areas volunteers have worked on are local economic development, elliminating hunger and poverty, as well as culture, education and healthcare activities.
International Volunteer Day was set up by the UN General Assembly in 1985 to assist volunteers and volunteer organisations at the local, national and international levels to reach the UN’s Millenium Development Goals, which aim to reduce poverty and hunger around the world. —