International Volunteer Day celebrated in Bissau

December 12, 2021

Photo: UNDP, 2021

Every year on the 5th of December, the United Nations celebrate International Volunteer Day (IVD) to promote volunteering, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts, and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national, and international levels. IVD was celebrated this year under the theme “Volunteer Now for Our Common Future”. In Guinea-Bissau, the day was celebrated with UNDP support through the project: “Enhancing the capacities of the National Volunteer Committee of Guinea-Bissau for inclusive citizenship, peace and sustainable development”. Numerous activities were carried out to mark the day as follows;  

From 2 to 4 December, more than 80 volunteers mobilized by the National Volunteer Committee carried out cleaning exercises in the N’batonha park, then planted 60 fruit trees in the park.  The N’batonha park, an urban park of 2.5 hectares, located in the center of the city of Bissau, is managed by the Town Hall. The volunteers are determined to contribute to the preservation of national parks and public spaces in collaboration with the Town Hall.  

5 December: The N’batonha park hosted the official IVD ceremony with 192 participants co-chaired by Mr. Florentino Fernando Dias, Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, and Mr. Tjark Egenhoff, UNDP Resident Representative, in the presence of the Youth Institute President, the President of the National Volunteer Committee (NVC), and President of the National Federation of People with Disabilities. The programme of the official ceremony program was structured around three speeches, a symbolic donation of cleaning materials to the National Volunteer Committee, and a tree-planting exercise. The volunteers through the president of the National Volunteer Committee demonstrated their commitment to play their role to help create a better future. The UNDP Resident Representative stressed that for the sake of the generations yet unborn, “we must take responsibility for the changes needed to build a better future now”.   

Volunteerism is an important part of creating a more equal and inclusive future for communities worldwide. Indeed sustainable development cannot be achieved without people’s engagement. Therefore, encouraging, recognizing and promoting volunteerism will undoubtedly facilitate the achievement of sustainable development goals. The Secretary of State for Youth and Sports took the opportunity to inform the public about the approval of the draft law on volunteering by the Council of Ministers, a sign of the government’s commitment to promote volunteering efforts and recognize volunteer contributions in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. He iterated his thanks to UNDP for their support in the drafting of the law on volunteering.  

Also on 5 December a radio debate “International Volunteer Day” was held on national radio with the presence of the Youth Institute President and the President of the National Volunteer Committee.  The IVD theme was discussed to encourage greater adherence of national radio listeners to the values of volunteering. 

From 6 to 7, December: At least 80 students were made aware of the benefits of volunteering at the training center “12 Pedras” and at the “Jorge Alma Cumelerbo” school to strengthen the spirit of volunteerism among the demographic. 

Marking International Volunteer Day was the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Guinea-Bissau. In the lead-up to the day, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Guinea-Bissau challenged the UN Volunteers serving in the country to paint canvases that would be sold to raise funds for a solidarity activity. Other UN colleagues (UNICEF) and local artists voluntarily joined the initiative later. Proceeds from the funds raised were donated to Casa Bambaram, in synergy with other initiatives led by UNICEF COSA. Volunteerism is a powerful and cross-cutting way of acting for Sustainable Development Goals. By volunteering, people take action to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.