Global Volunteering Forum 2014 - an opportunity to rethink volunteering

Publié: 4 décembre 2014 11:30 CET

By Ly Ngyen, IFRC Viet Nam

In the lead to the International Volunteer Day 2014 on 5 December, between 1 and 4 December 2014, nearly 200 Red Cross volunteers and staff from around the globe gathered at The Difference - Global Volunteering Forum 2014.

Bringing together over 2,000 years of volunteering experience, the participants were able to share their stories in volunteering and working with volunteers as well as learn from one another in ways many of them had never done before. This was important in sparking many thoughts and ideas about what volunteering means for the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and what we need to do to better engage our volunteers. 

“Are we investing enough in volunteer management?” said Pamela M'mboga Indiaka, head of organizational development and county management, Kenya Red Cross. “We should not consider volunteers as an end in themselves. They  are part of the community and are the means for the Red Cross to reach the beneficiaries.”

Over the three days, the participants were able to take the lead in the forum by deciding the topics of and taking turn to lead the open space discussions both at the forum and online through social media. There were also a series of ignite speeches by Red Cross staff and volunteers and representatives of Zurich Insurance and Coca Cola. 

“I appreciate the opportunity to hear from both volunteers and staff at different levels including secretary generals from around the world, “ said Chams Chems El Assil Belghith, a young volunteer of Tunisian Red Crescent and speaker at the forum. “I have learned a lot and this experience will help me in managing volunteers at my branch in Tunisian Red Crescent.”

National Societies also shared their volunteer management initiatives in the marketplace of ideas, in which the Libya Red Crescent won the best award for their junior volunteers involvement project, which is an initiative started in 1996 to nurture a Red Cross spirit as well as leadership capacity from a young age that has proven effect.

Not only was this an opportunity for participants to network and be inspired to overcome traditional boundaries in thinking about volunteering, but the participants also made commitment on what they would do to enhance the work with volunters in their National Society, as well as collectively as a Movement to think critically about the issue and develop innovative solutions.

“We need to reestablish a culture where monetary incentives and social and professional accolades are secondary to the primary goal of alleviation of human suffering globally through the mobilization of our volunteers who truly epitomize what it means to be a humanitarian,” said David Sobers, volunteer and youth development officer, Belize Red Cross Society.” It starts with you and it then becomes us, one day at a time.”