Outstanding volunteers awarded on the International Volunteer Day in BhutanWritten by Riikka Suhonen
In Bhutan, International Volunteer Day was celebrated through a series of public activities.
In the capital, Thimphu, international and Bhutanese volunteers showcased their activities and talents through multi-faceted display and cultural programme. Distinguished keynote speakers and a panel discussion by volunteers, shed light on the many ways in which people contribute to volunteering in Bhutan. The general public was invited to become volunteers by donating blood at tents set up next to the stage, with 68 potential donors registering, and 48 blood units collected in three hours.
Information on volunteer opportunities, as well as possibility to vote for the MY World survey was offered at the display stalls during the day. Posters highlighting the volunteer work of 11 organizations were exhibited for two weeks after IVD at the Nehru-Wangchuck Cultural Centre.
In response to a national call for nominations, four outstanding volunteers received awards in three different categories. An active volunteer since her high school days, Ms Chencho Dema received the award for “Youth Volunteer of the Year” for establishing Helping Hand club to promote volunteerism at the Trashiyangtse Institute for Zorig Chusum where she works as an instructor.
The award for “International Volunteer of the Year” was shared between two volunteers: Mr Chaiyo Opassamutchai, who is teaching furniture design and making at the Technical Training Institute in Rangjung as a TICA (Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency) volunteer, and Ms Emi Tsukamoto, a JICA midwifery volunteer and founder of the knitting club where 30 youth volunteers meet weekly to knit caps for premature babies in Bhutan.
Ms Nima Lhamu from Thimphu was recognized with the “Volunteer of the Year” award, having started the first credit cooperative in Bhutan for women unable to access financial services, and working there as a volunteer for the past 13 months.
AVID Country Manager, Chris Wardle, noted that, "International Volunteer Day has been a wonderful way to recognise the selfless and vital work which volunteers undertake every day. From the simple gift of life through blood donation, to participation in regular clean-up campaigns, and the long-term commitment of local and international volunteers, volunteering is as diverse as our global community. This year we have seen an increase in the number of organisations coming together, and we look forward to other opportunities to showcase the positive impact that volunteering can achieve."
The IVD 2014 official event was supported and co-organized by the United Nations in Bhutan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID). In addition to the support of these agencies, over 70 volunteers from Bhutanese volunteer involving organizations made the event happen. These included: Clean Bhutan, Community Based Scouting, Election Commission of Bhutan, Go Youth Go/Youth Media Centre, RENEW/DAISAN, Rotary Club of Thimphu, Royal Bhutan Police, Tarayana Foundation, Friends from Thailand/Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA), Y-VIA/Youth Development Fund, and Youth Initiative/Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy.
In addition to the official event, two youth centres managed by the Department of Youth and Sports in the towns of Phuentsholing and Gelephu in Southern Bhutan, initiated activities to mark International Volunteer Day, including a cleaning campaign and a celebration with local youth volunteers.
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