Volunteers celebrate with games, fashion parade

With the formalities done on Wednesday, International Volunteers Day took on another flavour yesterday at One U.N House in Tuanaimato. 

Volunteers from Japan, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and other far flung places gathered to be pampered with speeches, good food, and sports out on the field.

They even treated each other to a fashion show, to display the Samoan workwear and accessories they’ve acquired on their journey.

Welcoming the volunteers were the directors of the Peace Corp, United Nations, Japan International Cooperation Agency and diplomatic representatives of New Zealand and Australia.

On behalf of Australia, deputy high commissioner Amanda Jewell echoed the words of acting high commissioner to New Zealand, Nick Hurley.

“Sometimes there are challenges, but they are opportunities to change, and to be changed,” she said.

“We are here to commemorate the lasting contribution you’re all making in Samoa.”

Simona Marinescu, referencing the State of the World Volunteering Report released last week, said volunteering, especially when unpaid, supports peace and social cohesion.

She urged the agencies and volunteers to map out the work they are doing against the Sustainable Development Goals as part of the 2030 Agenda to assess where their work was helping the most.

In closing her address, Ms. Marinesu told the volunteers how much they are valued.

“We are fond of you; we are respectful of your work, which you do in an unconditional, direct way. It tells us a lot about your hearts, and values.”

Peace Corp country director Ginni Wilderson said for the American volunteers who are placed in villages both rural and urban, learning the language and having a good laugh with their host families is just as important as the literacy work.

“It’s all about what we have in common, what makes us laugh, and remembering we are all human,” she said.

The formalities of the day ended with a fashion show (“Because volunteers are part of the fabric of society,” said Ms. Wilderson), and games like tug of war on the field.

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