Project launched to encourage volunteerism

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport in partnership with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), and Non-Governmental Organisations launched a three-year strategy on Friday to encourage the involvement of more youths in community volunteerism.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) reported that  the strategy aims, among its many objectives, to promote the importance of volunteerism in Guyana and meet the need for more youths to be actively involved.

At the launching on Friday at the Umana Yana, Kingston, Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, in addressing the gathering, expressed pleasure with the development of the strategy and noted that it comes at an important time.

“I am very delighted at the achievements which have been made over the last three years, in particular, as we are on the verge of achieving the objective of the strategy…If the plan which was embarked upon is followed and if we continue to collaborate, the sector can move forward,” he was quoted as saying.

He stated that a co-ordinated approach towards volunteerism is necessary if the objectives of the strategy are to meet international and national development goals, thereby improving the lives of residents at the community levels.

Minister Anthony said that while the programme will serve as a mechanism to contribute meaningfully to the development of young people in Guyana, through the development of a national approach towards youth volunteerism, it will also serve as an important factor in reducing crimes.

“Even if we are looking at disability, poverty or HIV/AIDS, there is a place for you in the strategy. We can make that one overall national strategy and every organisation operating would find a place under this umbrella,” Anthony said.

He also called on the parties involved to ensure that the sector is organised at all times if the grassroots are to benefit significantly from the project.

Meanwhile,  VSO Pro-gramme Manager, Tara Persaud, stated that while volunteerism offers an opportunity for youths to be fully engaged, the programme also serves as a means to better prepare youths for the world of work by instilling a sense of civic pride.

“VSO sees volunteering as a key tool in development, and our mission is to bring people together to fight poverty. In addition to the work that we do, we now support and promote the development of local volunteering, because we believe that people are the best agents for change and that Guyanese can contribute and make an impact in their own communities…” she said.

And  Carol Wade, a volunteer stationed at the Culture Ministry for the past seven months and who has also played an integral role in the development of the three-year strategy, stated that there needs to be an increase in volunteering in Guyana.

In 2010, a collaborative research project was undertaken through sponsorship by VSO, the Culture Ministry and the United Nations Volunteer Programme (UNV), at which the current state of volunteerism and an assessment of the feasibility of a volunteer support platform was addressed.

VSO Guyana was re-established in 1989 in response to the needs of the country. The programme has developed in a diverse manner with volunteer placements in areas of health, education, technology, natural resource management, business, social and community development, GINA said.

VSO Guyana has volunteers working in Regions Two, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Nine and Ten.

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