V For Volunteer: Recognising Their Efforts
By Maryam Azwer
What do a cricket coach, an expert in ayurvedic medicine, a teacher and a gynaecologist have in common? They’re all volunteers. They, along with eleven others, have been nominated for the Volunteer Awards, or V Awards, scheduled to take place on the 21st of this month.
In recognising the time and efforts of thousands of people across the island, who have given selflessly for the uplifting of the lives of countless others, the V Awards has been organised by the IYV + 10 Steering Committee along with News 1st. These awards will be among several initiatives in recent times to recognise the work of volunteers in the country.
The series of programmes unveiled by IYV + 10 in the last year have been undertaken in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, called for by the United Nations in
“IYV+10 has been all about the recognition, promotion, facilitation
and networking of volunteerism,” explains IYV National Co-ordinator, Fadhil Bakeer Markar. “I would say it has been very successful in Sri Lanka, even when compared to other countries in the region.”
The increased recognition of volunteer activity work in Sri Lanka was also highlighted last month, when the South Asia launch of the first ‘State of the World’s Volunteerism Report’ was held in Colombo.
As for the V Awards, UN Operations and Communications Assistant Bhagya Ratnayake explained that nominations were called for last year, following which twenty-six, and later fifteen, finalists were chosen for their outstanding volunteer work at a national level.
The idea of people lending their time and efforts towards some form of social upliftment, no matter how small, is not a new concept to Sri Lankans. Shramadhana campaigns, for instance, have for decades been proof of those at grassroots levels each working to the best of their own abilities to help their community.
The concept of volunteerism is often easily interpreted as free labour, but a look at the different stories of the fifteen V Awards finalists suggests that there is a lot more to it.
They each hail from different parts of the country, different communities, and different walks of life altogether. Perhaps it’s a sense of responsibility, perhaps it’s an unbridled yearning to help those in need.
Or maybe it’s the sense of satisfaction at the end of all that hard work – whatever the reason, volunteers have produced results, no matter how small.
Whether they are recognised by the rest of the world or not, volunteers – not just these fifteen finalists, but also the thousands of others who quietly make their contributions – will not be forgotten too easily, by those whose lives they have touched.