Our volunteers do great work every day, but Wednesday 5 December is International Volunteer Day, our opportunity to acknowledge all of our volunteers, past and present, for making the choice to share their skills and experience with our partners throughout the Pacific and beyond.
The UN’s theme for International Volunteer Day this year is “Volunteers build resilient communities”, which fits perfectly alongside VSA’s Vision of “A world with thriving communities”.
This year, we’ve talked to our partner organisations and our returned volunteers, to see how volunteering makes a difference. What we found is that the impact of volunteering lasts decades – for the volunteer, the community in which they worked, and even their community in New Zealand.
Every one of our partner respondents told us that having a volunteer made a positive impact for them. Over half no longer need volunteers, as local capacity has grown through skills-sharing.
Our returned volunteers reported huge personal growth through volunteering, with increased knowledge, resilience and an ability to work (and live) with less. In addition, they reported long-lasting ties with their new whānau: “I enlarged my family, and now have three very close Cambodian families who think of me as their New Zealand family.”
And while 86% of returned volunteers found their assignment “moderately” or “very” challenging, 84% rated the overall experience eight or higher out of 10. Nearly one-third gave it a ten!
VSA CEO Steve Goodman says “Volunteers all have different reasons for volunteering, but what continues to impress me here at VSA, is the genuine sense of service to others that is common to them all. VSA volunteers seem to me to be driven by the spirit of sharing skills, a sense of fair play and a real practicality, which is why they all have such a great impact in the areas that you work. I have been fortunate to visit several of our programmes throughout this year, and in every case I have been inspired by the work and approach taken by our volunteers.”
Happy International Volunteer Day to all our volunteers, and the millions all around the world contributing to making their own and other communities thrive – Ma tini ma mano ka rapa te whai (By many, by thousands, the work will be done).
We hope that you will be celebrating and are celebrated. Thank you.