Volunteering: Spirit of Togetherness

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International volunteer’s Day (IVD) was observed and  celebrated  all over the world  on 5th  December, 2020. It was  designated   and mandated  by the  United Nations General Assembly in 1985 as an international  observance day to celebrate  the power  and potential  of volunteerism. This day is an opportunity  for individual  volunteers, and volunteer  organizations  to raise awareness of, and gain understanding  for the  contribution  and the selfless services they  render  to their  communities. International  volunteer’s day  is an opportunity for  us all to  promote  volunteerism,  encourage governments  to support volunteer efforts  and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievements  of sustainable  Development  Goals(SDGs) at local , national and international  levels. It is also  viewed  as a unique  chance  for volunteers  and organizations to celebrate  their  efforts,  to share  their values,  and to promote  their work among  their  communities,  non-government organizations  United Nations Agencies, government authorities  and the private sectors.

On this day, we stand in respect of more than  a billion  volunteers  across  the globe who build  resilient communities  around the  world. As we  recognize the  collective  efforts  of volunteers  globally, we reflect   on the multitude  of actions taken  locally  to help  people, communities and neighbourhoods become better  prepared  to respond   to the unexpected  and better positioned  for a more  sustainable future.  This previous IVD  was an occasion to thank  volunteers worldwide  and also  shed light  on the difficulties  and needs of volunteers during   the covid-19 pandemic. Showing  the impact  of volunteers  in their communities  during   this crisis,  we tried to reach to  all the corners  of the globe  with   the message of  Together  we  Can  Through Volunteering. The Theme the day encompasses the core spirit  of volunteerism. Son the day people  around  the world  celebrated IVD with rallies, parades, volunteer fairs,  group clean ups, blood  donations, conferences, exhibitions fund raising, workshops  and volunteer recognition events.

The International  Red Cross  and Red Crescent movement  is one of  selfless voluntary  service. Whether  it is done  without   pay or with some form of acknowledgment  or even  modest  remuneration. The main thing  is that it is not  inspired  by the desire for  financial  gain but by  the individual  commitment  and devotion to  humanitarian  purpose. The principle  of voluntary  service is a guarantee of the  humanitarian  motivation of Red Cross  and Red crescent  staff  whether  paid or not. The quintessence of voluntary service is selfless  services to others, the most direct  expressions of humanity, which is  at the core of Red Cross  Movement’s  principles.  Red Cross  is a volunteer  Relief  movement, not prompted  in any manner by desire  or personal  gain.

At Red cross  volunteers are seen providing  assistances to helpless and the  destitute,   building schools for the poor, delivering first aid to the  victims of disasters, supplying relief materials, arranging safe drinking water,  restoring family  links, disseminating information on  sanitation and hygiene  and many other  activities which help  alleviate people’s suffering. Guided   by the fundamental principles in all their work, Red Cross  and  Red Cross  volunteers inspire trust   among  men and women  they assist.  Volunteerism is thinking about, and serving  others  during very critical  times. Be it  earthquake or floods pandemic or road accident  , battle filed  or the  natural disasters, religious pilgrimages, volunteers reach out  to the needy   and serve in the  spirit of humanism.

It was on the battle field of soliferno in 1859 that Henry Dunant, the father of Red Cross, stuck by the insufficiency of medical  services, the great  number of soldiers  who died for lack of care and vast suffering that could have been avoided,  conceived the great  idea of  having  care given to the wounded  in war time  by zealous, devoted and thoroughly  qualified  volunteers. Henry Dunant’s idea made  headway   and later got formalized in Resolution 6 of  the 1863 Geneva International Conference.

Although  the first  Red Cross  volunteers worked   on or close  to the  battle  fields, they are  now present  at the scene of natural  disasters and everyday  life  performing a host of medical and social  welfare tasks,  Through volunteerism, communities around the  world  often experience strengthened  solidarity  and inclusion. The act of volunteering is found in all  cultures, languages and religions. Each year hundreds of millions of people  volunteer  their time  and skills  to help  make the  world a better place to live in. when they  volunteer, they help to improve the lives of others. And by doing  so, they also gain a greater sense of  belonging  to their  communities.

Many individuals  are imbued  with a desire  to help others. whether it is within the family, the clan ,the village, the local club  , the  religious community   or the national  society, every time suffering is alleviated by a selfless gesture, the spirit  of humanity  triumphs  over poverty,  illness, the violence  of man or the  forces of nature. Voluntary  work  is an  expression , a universal   solidarity  that bounds the movement together. The human dimension of voluntary service  inspires  many individuals to  help  others without any desire for personal gain. It  serves  the noble cause of serving the  humanity with sincerity  and selflessness.

Apart from  the concept of forming  relief societies  for the purpose of taking care of the wounded in  wartime as conceived  by Sir Jean Henry Dunant, there are examples of selfless volunteer  work done by the prophets and saints.

The life characters of Prophets, their companions and disciples, and other eminent saints who flourished in the history of the world, will be  of a great  value  to the world at large  and who, by their great  selfless services and devotion to the duties and by their life examples and conduct have done unprecedented  services to the humanity at large. Their special features and shining spot-light shall inspire the mankind, especially the younger generation to be great and  ennobling in their life career and to do  great  selfless and voluntary work  to mankind individually and  collectively.

Red Cross movement has world’s one of the  largest  volunteer system  and Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) celebrates IVD  to highlight the efforts of  its volunteers  working  in communities  during   disasters , crisis situations and peace   time  throughout the country. The efforts of  one billion volunteers across the  globe  is an important  foundation at a pivotal movement for development to enable  us to recover  from covid-19 pandemic. Over the last  months during 2020  as the covid-19 pandemic ravaged  the world, volunteers have  been at the forefront of medical community and  social response. The covid-19 preparedness plan and Response  plan by Indian Red Cross Society  in Jammu and Kashmir  identifies community volunteers   as key  stakeholders for  dissemination of information , disease prevention  and reaching out  to the needy  delivering  food, mediciens and  other  essential  items. Indian Red Cross Society recognizes the valuable and indispensable  efforts of volunteers during covid-19.

Volunteers form the backbone  of the Red Cross Movement. Volunteers  play a key role  in assisting vulnerable people   and carrying out the Red Cross  activities  within  the seven fundamental  principles via ; Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary service, unity  and universality. It is  they who are the key agents   in the implementation of humanitarian  aid  activities and promoting Red Cross  ideals  in the field . As in any part of the country, volunteers represent an important part of Red Cross Movement   in Jammu and Kashmir. The  staff and the volunteers   works as  a team and share the  responsibilities.  Therefore, motivation and mobilization of new as well as  old volunteers from   time to time   remains a core  activity  of the Jammu and Kashmir Red Cross society. Our  aim  is to build  their capacities so that  they make a significant  contribution  in the  community  as innovators, peer educators, advocates  and helpers  for vulnerable people. Imparting  necessary training and skills to the  volunteers whose work  is appreciated would always help in  enhancing  the reputation of Red cross Movement and contribute in changing conditions towards  a better  future. Hope  more and more  young people will  come forward  and resolve  to volunteer  their support  to serve the humanity despite  all  challenges at hand.

The author is former Director General economics & statistics  j&k and presently he is honarary treasurer J&K Red Cross