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    UNIS/DEV/94
     5 December 1999
    Volunteers Shape the World Around Them, Says Executive Coordinator of 
    UN Volunteer Programme in Message for International Day

    BONN, 5 December (UN Volunteer Programme) -- Following is the text of the message of the Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteer Programme (UNV), Sharon Capeling-Alakija, on International Volunteer Day, 5 December:
     

     As we celebrate the onset of a new era, we also take leave of the 20th century.  As fellow occupants of this planet, we have learned that our fate and the fate of our societies are bound together.  We have a responsibility to each other and to the places we inhabit.  From that realization comes the inspiration that moves countless people around the world to become volunteers – to work towards a better future. 

     Each day we see clear evidence of effective volunteer action. This past year volunteer activists from north and south came together to argue persuasively for a programme of debt relief for the poorest among the nations.  During 1999, we saw local communities set aside differences as volunteers from other countries rushed to the aid of people stricken by calamitous earthquakes in Turkey, Greece and Taiwan. They struggled together, under difficult conditions, to restore order, to feed people and provide shelter for those left homeless.  Where volunteers work, they shape the world around them.

     When we look around, let us observe that we are surrounded by good deeds, whether grand gestures, or small acts of kindness -- and underlying it all, the work of volunteers going their quiet way getting the job done. In the account books of nations, the contributions of volunteers are recorded in invisible ink: they don’t show up. But if they did, we know the numbers would be impressive indeed.  So let us all simply say thank you to volunteers everywhere on this International Volunteer Day.

     And we look forward to the International Year of Volunteers in 2001, which will provide a unique opportunity to highlight the achievements of millions of volunteers worldwide who devote some time of their lives to serving others, and we hope it will encourage more people to engage in voluntary actions. 

     Preparations to mark the year are now underway and today UNV is launching a campaign to collect 100,000 photographs of volunteers from communities around the world.  Each photo will become part of a giant “Volunteer Tapestry” that will form the backdrop for the IYV 2001 kick-off, a year from now.  Please visit our website <www.iyv2001.org> now to get details on how to participate in this global endeavour. And together let’s weave a tapestry that will proclaim the centrality, importance, and relevance of voluntarism for the 21st century. 
     
     


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