Welcome Remarks by Ms Euleen Goh, SIF Chairman, at International Volunteers Day Celebrations Hotel Fort Canning, the Grand Marquee
Singapore International Volunteers,
Mr Vishnu Swaminathan, India Country Director of Ashoka India,
Good afternoon and a very warm welcome to SIF’s International Volunteer Day (IVD) celebrations. IV Day is observed globally on 5 December every year to recognise the contributions of volunteers towards sustainable human development. SIF joins this global celebration of volunteerism and honouring of ordinary citizens in making change at all levels with this year’s event titled, “Celebrate Heart-Work”.
Today, we celebrate the passion and commitment of our Singapore International Volunteers or SIVs towards community development overseas as well as the warm and enduring relationships that they have built across communities. The SIF team attempted to capture some of these friendships across borders built between our volunteers and overseas communities in the form of a special video presentation. I hope you can take some time later to take a peek into the friendships and the learnings that have created remarkable change.
Some of you might be wondering, what drives a volunteer? What makes some of them return time and again to give of their time and effort? Looking at our SIV community, it is a dedication to share knowledge, skills, and resources to uplift lives in developing communities across 17 countries over the past two decades.
Throughout our work in fostering greater people-to-people ties and trust between Singaporeans and world communities, we are privileged to have around 3,500 of such citizen ambassadors join us to make friends for a better world. These Singaporeans form the backbone of SIF’s work, connecting and collaborating with overseas communities to effect positive change. Today, we celebrate the dedication of 12 long service volunteers who have worked alongside us to champion social change. I am delighted that you could join us today and on behalf of my colleagues at SIF, I thank you for your strong partnership and impactful work.
Your voluntary engagements and your role in contributing towards sustainable development at an international level have not gone unnoticed. This year, SIF received the President’s Award for Volunteerism (Non-Profit Category). We are humbled to have received this award as an endorsement of our work in enabling Singaporeans to contribute to international understanding and development. It’s also a recognition of our SIV’s hard work, passion and commitment in empowering communities in 35 projects across Asia - improving the quality of healthcare, environmental and education services through skills training and provision of direct services.
Indeed, your actions serve as inspiration to others to do the same, whether individually or as corporates. One such SIV is Vincent Pang who led a team of friends to volunteer for SIF’s Water for Life (WFL) in Kampong Speu, Cambodia. Inspired by what they experienced during their volunteering stint, the group held a photo exhibition during the 2013 World Water Day in Singapore to raise awareness of water and sanitation issues, thereby encouraging other Singaporeans to come forward for international community service.
Another great example of being a catalyst for change is one of our long-standing partners – SingHealth. They recently hosted the inaugural International Conference on Humanitarian Medical Missions (ICHMM), inviting medical professionals from around the world to come together and share best practices in responsible medical volunteerism. This is yet another example of how our volunteers and partners are taking action on their own to inspire others to contribute in responsible and reliable ways to making a better world.
We will continue to support and enable our citizen ambassadors to serve meaningfully overseas. In October this year, SIF, along with other volunteer involving organisations in FORUM, has pledged our support to the Lima Declaration, for the role of international volunteerism to be recognised in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and for International Volunteerism to be supported in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. SIF is a member of FORUM, a global network of organisations who collectively advocate the value of international volunteering for development through policy engagement, mutual learning and the sharing of best practices. Like our FORUM counterparts, we believe that volunteerism represents a people-centred approach to sustainable development. It empowers people to become active citizens in shaping their own development and the world around them.
And to share with us more on the role of volunteers and active citizens in sustainable development, we have with us a very special guest this afternoon - Mr Vishnu Swaminathan, India Country Director of Ashoka India. He will be speaking about how ordinary citizens are driving novel yet effective and sustainable solutions for complex social problems in India. Thank you, Vishnu for taking the time to be with us and flying in especially for this occasion. On the same note, we would also like to express our gratitude to our friend, Joel, who has kindly volunteered to emcee for today’s event in the true spirit of volunteerism.
In closing, I would like to leave you with this quote from Helen Dyer who said, “Volunteerism is the voice of the people put into action. These actions shape and mould the present into a future of which we can all be proud”. We are delighted to be celebrating once again, the generous spirit of our SIVs, our strategic enablers who have been tirelessly working together with us to make this world a better place.
I wish you all an enjoyable afternoon ahead!
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