16 Oct 2014
Photo: Zaven Khachikyan/UNDP in Armenia
How does volunteering make a difference?
These days, we are trying to do development differently: to partner with less usual suspects for outside insights, and tap into local energy and initiatives.
The ethos of volunteerism is exactly the same – it is not a supplement to the work we do; it is a natural component within it.
And with whom do we partner up to do this? The answer, of course, is young people. They are the natural choice.
To be truly inclusive though, we have to work harder to reach women, minorities, and other vulnerable groups.
Volunteerism can be an essential part of that reach.
Today, we have the largest cohort of youth in human history. Fifty percent of the population is below the age of 30. We cannot shape an effective response to youth matters if we do not include the voices of young people themselves.
We see ample evidence of this already happening in our region.
In Belarus, young people volunteer to give free city tours to blind children; others provide orphans with clothes for harsh winters. They don’t see themselves as volunteers per se, but as citizens passionate to create infrastructures for resilience in their communities.