By Deeba Shahnaz Akhter
International Volunteer Day (IVD) designated by United Nation (UN) General Assembly through Resolution 40/212 on 17 December, 1985. Since having the legal recognition civil society, United Nation Systems, Non-Government organizations, Government organizations celebrate the IVD on 5th of December every year. This is the day to promote volunteers contributions to development at local, national and international level. IVD is a chance to motivate, recognize volunteer work, and encourage volunteerism as volunteers are driven by a desire to contribute to the well-being of their society, without expectation of material reward, and their efforts always promote civic values, peace and social cohesion in the society. Volunteers work without any agreed stipend for establishing safer communities, poverty alleviation, capacity building of communities and sustainable development. Although retention of the volunteers for a long time in country like Pakistan always remained a big problem but despite of the all such facts nobody can deny the strength and impact of power of humanity when it comes in form of volunteerism.
In year 2017, Punjab Emergency Service Rescue 1122 has registered 100,000 Rescue Mohafiz (Volunteers) and imparted training to 30,000 Rescue Mohafiz on Community level Disaster Response Skills to establish Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) at Union Council level. On this special day, I salute to all volunteers especially who have practically contributed for betterment and development in their respective communities. Volunteers’ continuous efforts are not only great contribution towards development rather a real strength to achieve global Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
It is also very important to give volunteers proper right to assist them with recognition. In this regard it is essential to mention that volunteers registered as Rescue Mohafiz to establish CERTs of Punjab Emergency Service Rescue 1122 have been provided a government plateforum to work with government and bridge the gap between community and government organizations for effective disaster preparedness and response .The First Provincial Community Emergency Response Exercise 2017 for all selected volunteers community teams from all districts of Punjab have been given opportunity to demonstrate their skills and get recognition at broader level. Furthermore, Rescue Mohafiz are being attached in all mass gathering events like, Muharram, Eids, Rabbi ul Awal after getting trainings from rescue trainers on internationally certified course Community Action for Disaster Response (CADRE).The CADRE skills competition for all CERTs is a unique activity to assess analyze and encourage the best CERT at Province level.
Rescue 1122 is closely working with international organizations like Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) to promote civic sense, safety culture, peace practices, social cohesion and community resilience. The Campaign Life First-Give Way to Life with ICRC, Pakistan Youth Initiative with VSO for peace promotion and development of resilience community and promoting volunteerism in collaboration with UNV cannot be successful without active participation of Community Safety Department of Rescue 1122 and volunteers. The volunteers are always encouraged to be part of safety mission by identifying hazards vulnerabilities and capacities assessment of their area, providing emergency response in case of emergency, launching safety awareness campaigns and events to sensitize citizens for healthy and safe living.
This year global theme for volunteer day is Volunteers Act First .Volunteer work can be reviewed from the aftermath of all major disasters like earthquake 2005, Haiti earthquake in 2010, flood 2010 and 2012. In all disasters community were found very generous and motivated towards disaster response and relief activities. It is highly encouraging and commendable that people want to contribute to help others within their capacities but It is also a hard fact that the trend of volunteering services is seasonal in our country. It only comes out when we are stuck with a disaster. This trend is different in developed nations as they take it their obligation and work for betterment of their community.. Volunteering should be priority of everyone especially professionals should play a lead role in rendering their services on volunteer basis. The doctors, teachers, lawyers, engineers and experts of different fields can earn extra money but all should spare sometime for volunteer services because their participation can create a visible difference for developing healthier and safer communities in Pakistan. Volunteer efforts never get wasted as it develops trust among the society, develop strong linkages between groups, enhance harmony and limits the distance. I pay rich tribute to all volunteers on behalf of Emergency Service Rescue 1122 for their continuous motivation valuable contribution and being responsible citizen of their community.