Strenghtening local volunteers’ capacities to promote volunteerism

21 Feb 2014

Strenghtening local volunteers’ capacities to promote volunteerism

‘‘If volunteerism was an animal, it would be an ant’’, explains a volunteer. ‘‘The ant has solidarity and team spirit. Ants are united and work together to carry their food and act for the good of their team.’’

This was the beginning of the cycle of capacity building workshops on the promotion of volunteerism for VBO, which were held in Kinshasa on 4 and 5 November and in Goma on November 28. The workshop provided 140 participants with a discussion framework and tools on how to promote volunteerism within their community. Indeed, for many vulnerable communities, engagement of the community members through volunteerism and mutual assistance is a mean to ensure their livelihood, tackle community problems and improve overall well-being. In other words, volunteerism helps alleviating vulnerability, using resources sustainably and improving access to health and education. Volunteer engagement also creates links between community members and strengthens social cohesion and values, which are essential to the development of an healthy society.

Divided into three groups, volunteers discussed the leadership role volunteers have in their community and the impact of their actions on local development and community recovery. More specifically, the first group considered the pros and cons of volunteer actions and how to take advantage of the strengths to overcome resistance. A second group talked about the involvement of VBO in community dynamics and the third looked at potential tools to get community members involved in volunteer actions.

‘‘The workshop was interactive and everyone was involved through the three focus groups. This enabled us to exchange views on volunteering and get concrete answers to our questions in a short time. I personally got a better understanding of the impact our actions may have and now I have the conviction that volunteerism can help rebuild our country and it is our duty, as citizens, to work on it’’, said a participant.