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The 5th of December is the day when the world is celebrating International Volunteer Day. This year, the United Nations’ campaign to promote volunteerism in Uzbekistan is joined by no other than Iker Casillas, world renowned goalkeeper, captain of Real Madrid and the Spanish national football team as well as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals. “While my job on the pitch is to prevent goals, my job at UNDP will be to help score them,” says Iker Casillas about his mission as Goodwill Ambassador.
Through an information campaign addressed at young people in Uzbekistan, Iker Casillas encourages them to get involved in their communities as volunteers, and to take pride in helping others. “I admire volunteers for their passion, energy and commitment,” said Casillas, before adding that volunteerism “will help you to develop both personally and professionally.”
From a development perspective, the involvement of young people in participatory processes at all levels plays a pivotal role in ensuring that their rights are promoted, voices are heard, inter-generational knowledge is shared, and innovation and creative thinking are encouraged from a young age, to support positive transformational change in their lives and communities.
Uzbekistan has a rich heritage of community based mutual help initiatives. However, for young people interested in volunteering, there exists a lack of information to find out about relevant opportunities. To mark International Volunteer Day, the ‘Social Innovation and Volunteerism in Uzbekistan’ project (funded through UNV and the UNDP Democratic Governance Trust Fund) is launching a national website on volunteerism and social innovation – I Act Uzbekistan (www.iact.uz).
The website is a place to learn about how volunteerism and social innovation can make a difference and contribute to peace and development, to meet dedicated people who want to contribute to society, to share ideas and to get involved in socially innovative community development projects. The key feature of the website is the matching of volunteers keen to dedicate their time and skills for worthwhile causes with organisations, foundations and NGOs that need help with realisation of their ideas and projects. In short, iact.uz is the solution to a situation where youth are keen to volunteer, but do not know how and where to take action.
With iact.uz, young people with an interest in volunteerism and social innovation will now be able to follow Iker Casillas’ call and find out about opportunities to get involved.
We invite everybody to join us in marking International Volunteers Day, and to ACT.