Speech By SIF Governor K Kesavapany, at International Volunteer Day Celebrations at the Arts House, Gallery II
It is wonderful to see so many of you here tonight. So many of you who have doing so many wonderful things out there. It is an honour for me to stand before so many noble individuals who have committed themselves to give their time and talents freely to uplift lives in developing communities.
Today, we come together to celebrate International Volunteer Day which falls on December 5 every year. You are part of a global community of a billion volunteers committed to building a better world and aptly described by the United Nations (UN) as “quintessential to humanity”. We, at the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) salute you and your work in bringing together world communities to do good.
According to the UN, when volunteerism is integrated into national development strategies and UN plans, people are increasingly able to contribute to achievements in a variety of areas such as education, health, sustainable livelihoods, security and peace. The UN Volunteers programme has thus developed a Plan of Action to integrate volunteering in peace and development policies and programmes in the next decade and beyond.
One of the strategic objectives includes measuring volunteerism for a holistic understanding of the engagement of people and their well-being; and as a part of the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals. The SIF’s latest study on the contributions of our international volunteers in Asia attests to this. Entitled Global Partners for Sustainable Development: The Added Value of Singapore International Foundation Volunteers, the work was undertaken by Dr Benjamin Lough of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The study focused on the impact SIF’s Singapore International Volunteers had on developing communities in India and Indonesia, specifically SDGs 3 (health) and 17 (partnerships). It showed that an overwhelming number of our beneficiaries believe our volunteers – whom we call Citizen Ambassadors – served as a great motivation for them to work more effectively. They especially liked the participatory and interactive nature of a people-centred development approach. I myself had the privilege of going on some of these volunteer projects. One of my favourite was SIF’s Water for Life programme.
We are very proud of our growing community of Citizen Ambassadors who support us in our work towards sustainable human development. Together, we have positively impacted the lives of 120,000 beneficiaries in over 17 developing communities, including India, Indonesia and China. On behalf of the SIF Board of Governors and the team at SIF led by Jean, let me thank you for your continuous trust and support of our work in connecting communities; enabling collaborations; and effecting positive change.
We also join the UN’s call this year to give volunteers a hand, for all that you do in making peace and sustainable development a reality. I would like to encourage you to show volunteers worldwide much-deserved appreciation, simply by using #GlobalApplause in your social media engagement. In doing so, you also encourage those who have not yet volunteered to ‘Get into the Act’ – which, incidentally, is the theme of this evening’s celebrations. I won’t give away too much at this stage.
On a personal note, we are now entering a very uncertain world with difficult times. This only means that we have to work even more closely together to make this world a better one.
I wish you an enjoyable time reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, while being inspired by the experiences and stories of the selfless acts of our volunteers.
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