International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2016: Lending Hands, Changing Lives

By: Rehan Hashmi

The International Volunteer Day (IVD) is observed each year on the 5th of December to celebrate the services of volunteers and organizations in helping communities. UN General Assembly mandated the international observance of this day back in 1985 to recognize the power and potential of volunteerism. On this day, a special tribute is paid to the volunteers who work to implement the new global goals of peace and human development.


What is Volunteering?

By definition volunteering is “any activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives, or to benefit the environment.”

  • Volunteering is about giving, contributing and helping other individuals and the community.
  • Spontaneous acts of kindness like helping neighbors shovel their walks, coming to the aid of a stranded motorist or helping an elderly person cross a busy road.
  • Volunteering is helping, not hiring; giving, not taking; contributing, not counting.
  • Volunteering is rich and diverse including large and small actions that are executed without any monetary backing for binding and the betterment of community.

Why do People Volunteer?

People volunteer for a variety of motives that can be personal or social and can vary from person to person. Some basic reasons are pointed as follows, this is carried out to:

  • feel good by doing good (for satisfaction)
  • help the community
  • help a friend or an individual
  • express their values
  • make a difference
  • deal with their own losses
  • increase self-esteem
  • change the world

The Significance of Volunteerism

Volunteers serve to make societies better and become a hope for the hopeless. It pushes people to think beyond themselves and focus on the needs of others, thus societies grow – eventually. The volunteer sector has a very strong social impact in our life that works as a bridge to social development. It strengthens the social fabric by encouraging social connections and organize communities in a manner where needs are addressed.

The Benefits of Volunteering to Volunteers

Volunteering does not only benefit a community but is also beneficial for volunteers themselves. Following are some advantages of volunteering for those who take a lead in it.

  • Helps you develop new skills.
  • Helps to gain a whole new experience.
  • Trains to be a qualified field worker.
  • Helps in socializing, building contacts and networking with others.
  • Provides insights into a potential future career.
  • Provides you a chance to enjoy something you love.


Online Volunteering

Online volunteering also known as virtual volunteering is done in the cyber space. It is simple, fast and effective method especially in advocating and achieving millennium development goals (MDGs) of UN. In online volunteering, organizations and volunteers team up and collaborate online to address sustainable development challenges and human development. Volunteer can take part for any cause anywhere in the world from any device.


Theme of International Volunteer Day, 2016

The theme of International Volunteers Day (IVD) this year is #GlobalApplause – give volunteers a hand. UN Volunteers (UNV) is calling for much deserved #GlobalApplause to recognize the efforts of all volunteers at their respective country’s IVD celebrations. ‘Give volunteers a hand’ urges everyone to volunteer who have not volunteered yet.


Volunteering in Pakistan

A number of local and international organizations are carrying out volunteer work in Pakistan to fix its problems and improve the situation. Volunteers of this country have shown their unrealized potential at many instances especially in relief work after natural disasters. One thing every volunteer in Pakistan must be proud of is the world’s largest voluntary ambulance service run by our own Edhi Foundation.

  • Edhi Ambulance: Largest Voluntary Ambulance Service in the World

Edhi Ambulance Service was initially started by a second hand Hillman Pickup Truck that was refurbished into an ambulance. With a fleet of above 1800 vehicles across the country, Edhi Ambulance Service holds the Guinness Book of World Records, record for world’s largest volunteer ambulance service since 2000.


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