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El Fasher, Sudan: Colombian UN Volunteer Dentist Liliana Patricia Gutierrez Freyle and Darfurian staff Hawa Awadallah enjoy a moment at Level 2 Hospital. To be a volunteer is not just about contributing your time and skills: it means forging friendships with the people you work among and serve, and perhaps spreading a spirit of volunteerism among them too.

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Be a volunteer, be inspiration in action! Every year, we mobilize around 8,000 UN Volunteers to serve locally and abroad in the peace and development programmes of United Nations agencies. More than 80% of UN Volunteers come from developing countries and more than 30% volunteer within their own communities. In the United Nations system, UNV is the focal point for volunteerism. We are the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation. UN Volunteers are active in almost 140 countries, promoting solutions to conflict, and helping people to lead sustainable lives and develop their capacities through training and information sharing. They work in programmes of UN organizations to help developing countries eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. UN Volunteers support democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, and promote environmentally- sustainable development.

People have many reasons to volunteer: to help others, serve society or contribute their time, skills and talents to a cause in which they believe. The actions of volunteers promote peace and development, and this is the focus of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

We contribute to peace and development by advocating for recognition of volunteers, working with partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing an increasing number and diversity of volunteers throughout the world. UNV embraces volunteerism in its diversity, as well as the values that sustain it: free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity. What can you do? Volunteer to support UNV in promoting greater recognition of the inspiring individuals who strive to make a positive impact on peace and development worldwide. Share your experiences of how volunteerism has impacted on your life. Volunteer action counts. Be a volunteer, be inspiration in action!


(Albert Gonzalez Farran / African Union-United Nations Hybrid Mission in Darfur, 2010)

National UN Volunteer Rizwan Latif (right) is an Outreach and Capacity Development Officer in Islamabad, Pakistan. Here, he discusses with 23-year-old Ammar Ahmed how men and boys can be encouraged to reduce gender-based violence and promote gender equality. (Waqas Anees, 2010)

“Our planet needs more than just action by governments and corporations; it needs each of us.” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

J ulme Charles Elza (Haiti) UN Volunteer Vehicle Mechanic with ONUCI in Côte d’Ivoire

Mohammad Sarhan (Occupied Palestinian Territory) UN Volunteer Personnel Assistant with UNAMID in Sudan

UN Volunteers are helping to reduce gender barriers by working in professional areas and locations typically dominated by men. Julme Charles Elza volunteers as a vehicle mechanic for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire. Within the Transport Section, she helps to keep UN missions running and sets a quiet example for others. Having worked as a mechanic in her home country Haiti for 13 years, the highly-qualified technician does a broad range of work. “By seeing that a woman can do this work, it gives a stronger motivation to the men,” Julme remarks. “Every time there’s a complex mechanical problem, I’m called in to fix it.”

Mohammad Sarhan is a UN Volunteer working for the Communications and Information Technology Section of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur. He became disabled at a young age when he was injected mistakenly with the polio virus. During the course of his career, Mohammad developed the disability policy of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. He now supports the Darfuri Disabled Club by raising awareness and funds for their workshops and services. “I have always been passionate about volunteering,” says Mohammad. “As I grow older,” he notes, “I realize that I get more out of volunteering than I could ever give; it makes you feel better about life and yourself.”

R  amiro Barriga (Bolivia) As a UN Volunteer Human Rights Officer with OHCHR in Guatemala

Estella Reed (Brunei Darussalam) Online Volunteer through the UNV Online Volunteering service

As a UNV volunteer with Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ramiro Barriga helps to develop and implement strategies for the promotion and protection of human rights. “My work motivates indigenous people, people with disabilities and youth to gain full consciousness of their rights and to organize themselves by creating networks that will help them fight together to improve their situation,” the Bolivian explains. With the project ‘Hip-Hop for Guatemala’, he encouraged marginalized youth to express their ideas through art and participate in constructive dialogue. “We only need to join a few hands to contribute to change,” Ramiro stresses.

When the Libya revolution began in February 2011, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs engaged a volunteer-based task force to develop a virtual ‘Libya Crisis Map’. About 150 UN Online Volunteers worked on the website providing real-time information on health needs, security threats and refugee movements for relief organizations. Estella Reed was one of the UN Online Volunteers coordinating the team and training new volunteers. “The work was eye-opening,” Estella says, “a huge juxtaposition in terms of witnessing the terrible human suffering and sadness caused by mankind, and the incredible use of new technologies to help others.”

For more information about UNV, please visit Contact UNV United Nations Volunteers - Postfach 260 111 - D-53153 Bonn - Germany


Overview: Be a volunteer, be inspiration in action!  

Overview about becoming a UN Volunteer with the United Nations Volunteers programme - English.

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