Long live volunteerism!
On 5 December, WISE is celebrating International Volunteer Day (IVD) along with like-minded people from all over the world! A lot has been done by the WISE team toward achieving our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) goals. As designated by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), International Volunteer Day (IVD) is an opportunity for organizations and volunteers to celebrate their efforts, to share their core values and to promote them among communities, authorities, public and private sector.
As a backbone of civil society, volunteerism is a powerful and interconnecting practice of implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in closing inequality gaps related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at local and global levels. At the moment, the WISE family features volunteers from Indonesia, Cambodia and Singapore, as well as throughout the world, contributing towards enabling communities in Southeast Asia to improve WASH practices.
Volunteering at WISE is not only an act of solidarity, but a platform to bring people around the world together through the stories of our volunteers. Today, we share stories that demonstrate the contributions of our volunteers through the years, and how volunteering has also benefited them.
Human connections can be built through volunteerism, as volunteerism is rooted in relationships. Our volunteers highlight that the solidarity and empathy generated through social action and shared values can resonate with the most vulnerable members of society. An example is a young and motivated volunteer in WISE’s sanitation project in Phnom village, Meng Sophorn, who facilitated a community planning workshop with residents of Phnom Village, Cambodia, who at the time, had the lowest levels of access to sanitation facilities in the commune. As an aspiring specialist in environmental engineering, she dreams to work in social business in order to target water and sanitation problems in Cambodia and other regions in Southeast Asia. Sophorn underlined that these problems are solvable if all parties work together!
Many of our volunteers are working with local communities. Individuals have the opportunity to self-organize around the social issues in their own community that they are passionate about, create collective practices and deal with risks and problems. A volunteer facilitator and translator in WISE’s Phnom Sanitation Project, environmental engineer Roeuy Leap Heng is deeply concerned about WASH issues in his community in Cambodia. He is convinced that rural areas in Cambodia are in urgent need due to lack of knowledge and accessibility. Thus, the delivery of community development, building capacity and behaviour change programs are vital for making Cambodia and Southeast Asia a better place for living.
For Elenyora Tsabita, being a volunteer with WISE is a great avenue to broaden her professional horizons , through opportunities to build experience and hone skills, and demonstrate her employability. As a holder of a law degree, 21 year-old Elen from Indonesia serves as a Civil Servant Candidate (CPNS: Calon Pegawai Negeri Sipil) at the Ministry of Finance. Elen provided research and writing support to the WISE’s legal team, which was valuable in ensuring that the organisation is accountable to local laws and regulations.
Volunteerism is an enormous generator of skills, energy and knowledge for peace and development. Moreover, these experiences, when shared with other communities and countries, can help each other acquire knowledge to more effectively respond to and prevent crises. Saori Fujimoto from Japan describes how she helps WISE to manage volunteers from all over the world. Having lived in different regions in Southeast Asia over the years, Saori was excited to share her experience as a volunteer coordinator. She underlined, “Improving WASH is essential for improving health. We can do small steps first without advanced technology and big budgets”.
WISE is grateful for the efforts of our volunteers to achieve universal and equitable access to water and sanitation. We will continue to share the amazing stories of our volunteers in our monthly Faces of WISE profiles. Long live volunteerism!
✍️ Valentina Pentorets was mobilised through UNV’s Online Volunteering Service.