Opening Remarks by Ms Jennifer Lewis, SIF Governor, at the SIV Networking Evening (IV Day Celebrations), Hotel Fort Canning

Singapore International Volunteers,

Mr Amit Virmani, Director of the film “Menstrual Man”,


Good evening. It gives me great pleasure to welcome everyone to today’s Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) networking evening, part of a series of regular activities we organise for our Volunteer community to get together and share experiences.

Today’s gathering is even more significant as we are observing International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2013. IVD which is supported by the United Nations, has been celebrated since 1985. On this day, societies worldwide celebrate volunteers and their unique, invaluable contributions. IVD also promotes the spirit of volunteerism, inspiring more to take up the challenge of helping to improve the lives of others.

Our vibrant SIV community, made up of volunteers from diverse backgrounds - but united in the vision, values and commitment of volunteer service, forms the backbone of SIF’s development work in Asia.

Whether you are a specialist or generalist volunteer, you embody the spirit of volunteerism in making this world a better place. For this, we applaud all of you for your dedication and contributions; and celebrate you as agents of change who have selflessly shared your time, skills and resources to uplift over 18,000 lives in developing communities annually, through SIF’s programmes.

This year, we would like to highlight the contributions of our volunteers and the difference they have made in the critical areas of water and sanitation. Over the past three years, more than 500 SIVs have participated in our signature clean water programme - Water for Life - choosing to give their time and effort to build and install water filters, sanitation facilities and conduct hygiene education workshops. Because of your contributions, clean drinking water is now a reality for thousands of villagers in Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia. You have helped bring about better health, enhanced livelihoods and most importantly, helped achieve a marked improvement in the quality of life for our friends in these villages.

Just as you are committed individuals seeking to make a difference in the well-being of our friends around Asia, the SIF remains committed to our role in facilitating and promoting volunteerism. It is our belief that volunteerism is a catalyst in sustainable human and social development; as its power is both a means and an end to the creation of healthy, vibrant societies. In line with this, we, along with other volunteer involving organisations have pledged our support to the Paris Accord on Volunteering for Sustainable Development in October this year. The Accord outlines the importance of recognising volunteer-driven development as one of the key movements for promoting an inclusive, equal, peaceful and sustainable future. SIF is a member of FORUM, a global network of organisations involved in international volunteering. Together they advocate the value of volunteering for development through policy engagement, mutual learning and the sharing of innovative and good practices.

One of the things we enjoy doing at the SIF is bringing like-minded people together, to inspire action for good. This evening, we are privileged to have the company of a special guest - Amit Virmani, director of “Menstrual Man”, who will share with us later, his motivations and journey in making the film.

Through his film, he has shown us how one committed, passionate individual can make a difference in this world; similar to the unique and invaluable contributions every volunteer brings to community development. A special thank you also goes to Winifred Loh, our long-time SIV for helping us moderate the dialogue session later.

In closing, I like to leave you with a quote by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that I think offers us a glimpse into the heart and soul of a Singapore International Volunteer. On International Volunteer Day 2012, he had this to say about volunteerism - “Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expectation of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose”.

May you continue to stay the course on your volunteer journey and inspire others to take action for good. Thank you and please enjoy the evening!

For volunteering opportunities, please see our volunteer vacancy list here.



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