General News Wed, 3 Dec 2003

Ghana marks International Volunteer Day

Accra, Dec.3 GNA - Vice-President Alhaji Aliu Mahama on Wednesday commended United Nations Volunteers for their estimated contribution of between eight and 14 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries where the Volunteers are active.

The Vice-President's speech was read on his behalf by the Minister of Manpower Development and Employment, Mr Yaw Barimah at a ceremony in Accra to mark International Volunteer Day, which was on the theme, "Volunteerism: A Vehicle for the Attainment of The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

He said an empirical study on volunteerism had shown that volunteerism facilitates public participation as an essential element of good governance and development and helps to integrate into society people, who might have been excluded or marginalized.

The day observed annually on December 5 was celebrated in Ghana two days earlier because of the National Farmers' Day scheduled for Friday.

The Vice-President said volunteerism in Ghana gave strength and character to the attainment of MDGs.


"The pool of human resources, diverse skills and experience which become available through volunteer service help to bridge critical resource gaps needed to prosecute the MDGs.

"Furthermore, the attributes of unconditional support, integrity and purpose, which come with volunteer work facilitate the spirit of mutual responsibility, which is at the very core of MDGs", he said.

Alhaji Mahama said the challenge now was to put into context this mutually reinforcing relationship between MDGs and the concept of volunteerism by capitalizing on the broad synergies.

He acknowledged the important contributions of other voluntary organizations in Ghana and called for the forging of new partnerships to help build and consolidate the national commonwealth.

Mr Joseph Oji, UN Volunteer Programme Officer in Ghana, said volunteerism was necessary to tackle the abject poverty that affected 1.2 billion people two thirds of them being women.


The global scenario looks even grimmer with about six million people not having access to life-saving HIV-AIDS drugs, he said.

"The International Day provides us an opportunity, irrespective of our age, race, gender, culture and professional background to renew the voluntary spirit, which is inborn in all of us," he said.

Mr Christophe Bahuet, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, commended the over 65 Ghanaian volunteers abroad for their socio-economic impact on society.

Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State In-charge of Tertiary Education, who chaired the function, reminisced her student days when she joined other students during school vacations to carry out community work as volunteers.

"I have nothing but greater respect for those who engage in voluntary work", she said.

Source: GNA