By Richard Kemoh
Volunteers across the world have on Wednesday 5th December 2018 joined Volunteers Involving Organization Network (VIONet) in celebrating the International Volunteers Day at the Hill Valley Hotel, Signal Hill in Freetown, using the theme: ‘Volunteers Build Resilient Communities.’
The celebration was graced by distinguished personalities from all walks of life, including Her Worship the Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki Sawyer, EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone, the Minister of Youth Affairs and the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, respectively.
Marian Pleasant Kargbo, Coordinator for VIONet, said the organization was co-founded by VSO and UNV, which she said is a network of progressive organizations that connects volunteers who seek to collaborate with the government, unions, think tanks, foundations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector to complement and add value in the area of promoting volunteerism for peace and development.
She continued that VIONet provides a platform for collective and coordinated answers to volunteerism, joint initiatives, for exchanging information and experience on volunteerism and international campaigns, improving regional networking and solidarity activities.
She furthered that the International Volunteers Day was mandated by the UN General Assembly, which is held annually on 5th December and viewed as a unique opportunity for volunteers and organizations to celebrate their efforts, share their values and promote their work among their communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, government authorities and private sectors.
She said Sierra Leone volunteers have been very pivotal in responding to natural disasters and emergency cries, citing the Ebola outbreak, flooding and mudslide, which volunteers were the first to respond in an event crisis breaks out and create social bonds and give a voice to marginalized groups.
Victor Moininah, member of VIONet, said that they commenced a week long activism starting from the 1st of December, where they joined the government of Sierra Leone and the Freetown City Council in the national monthly cleaning exercise.
He added that the biggest children’s referral ward at Ola During Children’s Hospital was adopted, cleaned and painted by VIONet.
He noted that VIONet comprises of four international Voluntary Organizations, that is, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), United Nations Volunteers (UNV) ECOWAS Volunteers and European Aid Volunteers (EUAVs) and thirteen local voluntary organizations.
Victor pledged to authorities concerned and the government of Sierra Leone to prioritize volunteerism and incorporated as part of the country’s program.
Community outreach, debate and essay competitions, press briefing and the celebration climaxed the event at the Hill Valley Hotel.