International Volunteer Day (IVD) on December 5 is an international observance designated by the United Nations since 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions – at local, national and international levels – to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
December 5th, 2017 marks four years since the inception of the Ghana Volunteer Program. This was created by the GhanaThink Foundation after the successful first edition of the first National Volunteer Day (NVDay) 21st September, 2013. The NVDay Initiative was to get as many people as possible in Ghana to volunteer their time or do community service on and around the Founder’s Day Holiday (September 21).
Volunteerism is not very popular and part of our society’s fabric. National Volunteer Day aimed at its inception to increase these numbers and unify efforts in volunteerism in Ghana. The Ghana Volunteer Program has rolled out and partnered several volunteer activities with the aim of ensuring the spirit of volunteerism is cultivated amongst most Ghanaians especially the youth. Gerald Sowah, the GVP Resources lead shared more on the importance of the NVDay initiative in Ghana by adding that “volunteerism encourages active citizenship. Through initiatives, such as our National Volunteer Day, we have seen many millennials debunk the apathetic citizen tag by actively participating in, and contributing towards national development.”
The NVDay team with the help of various GhanaThink members approached many organizations who have volunteer events and encourage them to organize something on September 21st every year. Some of partner organizations like Utopia’s Wishlist were very interested and planned activities. On September 21 2013, about 40 activities with about 300 volunteers happened. There was a lot of online and offline engagement and publicity for these activities. Reactions and feedback were captured via Storify.
The focus of the programme at present is to acquire volunteers for volunteer opportunities around Ghana. GVP also helps volunteer activity organizers find volunteers. This program seeks to encourage volunteerism in Ghana, and to market and make attractive volunteer activities. So far GVP has sourced for volunteers for many events held by various organisations including: Dain Agribusiness Workshop, Chale Wote Street Art Festival, Lifebuoy Global Handwashing day, Kofi Gyamfi Memorial Screening (AMEND Ghana), NshoreNa cleanups, Environment360 School Recycle programs, INTED Teacher trainings and many more.
This year’s National Volunteer Day (#NVDay17), which was the fourth of its kind, took place from the 16th – 30th September 2017. Volunteers and organizations alike spent the holiday weekend giving back to their communities with over 60 registered activities in all 10 regions of the country. Some organisations that held activities were PsychAid and Love, PiloloGH, Patriots Ghana, Divine Mother and Child Foundation, The CSR Hub, Life-MAC Network Foundation, Several Rotaract Clubs, Youth African Leaders Network, Dreamz Foundation, Women in Engineering UMAT, Young at Heart Ghana and some GhanaThink Barcamps across the country. There was also a lot of online and offline engagement with the #NVDay17 which was captured via Storify
On the occasion of 2017’s International Volunteer Day, the GVP team engages the media all over Ghana discussing the work done so far under the program and what the future plans are for our nation. Through these engagements, we will encourage more people to do community service within Ghana.
Volunteering demonstrates initiative and hard work, two ideals that many organizations look for while hiring. Adelina Martey, The GVP Team and Administrative lead shared that “Not only does volunteering give you invaluable experience that employers are always eager for but it also shows that you are concerned with the social issues that surround you. Volunteering is thus more than just an activity. It is making social impact both in a community and within yourself by improving your own skills and self development. When you volunteer, you learn. And the more you learn, the greater the impact you make and your attractiveness in the job market”. The GVP team and all of GhanaThink believes that by volunteering, volunteers would be building their CVs, experience and overall life goals and vision.
We envisage that Ghana will be developed through volunteerism, that is why we say at Ghana Volunteer Program that VOLUNTEERISM IS THE HEART OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.