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