• People empowering people

    23 Jun 2011

    Volunteer teachers combat illiteracy in Burkina Faso
    Volunteer teachers combat illiteracy in Burkina Faso. Photo: UNV

    Today marks the occasion of the United Nations Public Service Day, intended to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community and a chance to highlight the contribution of public service to international development.

    The work of public servants the world over deserves recognition as making a critical contribution to the development process.

    We thought we’d take the opportunity to focus on the thousands of volunteers worldwide whose support captures the civic and community spirit at the heart of our efforts to build empowered lives and resilient nations.

    Through volunteerism, people participate in the development of their own communities and their own countries. In this way volunteerism directly empowers lives, builds local ownership and fortifies communities and governments.

    Strategies supported by community-level action can help tackle development challenges. For example, in Nepal, UN Volunteers offer support to the Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) programme, through which around 50,000 women volunteers are improving maternal health in rural areas.

    National volunteers can also bring valuable knowledge of the local context, allowing development partners to reach out to communities and strengthen their ability to become active players in addressing the challenges they face. 

    At the broadest level, volunteering is an opportunity for individuals to develop their potential and capacity as global citizens. Especially as the world undergoes turbulent changes, volunteerism can re-create lost linkages and create new ones among people of different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and origins.

    Over 7,500 UN Volunteers support the work of UNDP and other UN organizations and missions, and more than 3,500 international UN Volunteers are themselves drawn from developing countries.

    We are inspired by the conviction that volunteerism has the potential to transform the pace and nature of development, and by the idea that everyone can contribute their time and energy towards peace and development.

    In our work with UN Volunteers we are committed to harnessing the potential of volunteerism toward achieving the development goals of each country, reducing poverty and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

    UNV is currently calling for nominations for its Online Volunteering Award 2011 to recognize the integral contribution made by online volunteers towards the achievement of the MDGs. The winners will be announced later this year on International Volunteer Day. Check out the UNV Online Volunteering service for more information on how you can volunteer with organizations online to strengthen the impact of their development work.

    Talk to us: Do you know any individual or organization engaging in inspiring volunteer work? Share their story here!


United Nations Volunteers

Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.


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  • Mozambique disaster drill
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Volunteer teachers combat illiteracy in Burkina Faso

The school year started off poorly for first-level elementary students in Lolonioro, a village located in the heart of the bush in southwest Burkina Faso.

Following the maternity leave of their teacher, the 67 pupils were unable to start lessons at the beginning of the official school year in September 2008.

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