International Volunteer Day

Volunteering means providing services for free or “Fee Sabeelillah” (In the path of Allah). Volunteers are driven by the desire to contribute to the well-being of their society, without expectation of material reward. Their efforts promote civic values ​​and social cohesion. Since 1985, International Volunteer Day (IVD) has been celebrated on December 5 each year to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize the contributions of volunteers at the local, national and international levels. The IVD-2021 campaign is “Volunteer now for our common future”. In Pakistan, volunteers are associated with different national and international organizations such as Rescue 1122, Pakistan Red Crescent, Association of Boy Scouts and Guides, UNV and VSO Pakistan, etc. disasters. South Asia’s leading emergency service, commonly known as Rescue 1122, gives all citizens the opportunity to register as a Rescue Scout and become a member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT ) to assist in emergency management and safety promotion. This initiative was taken by the Director General of Relief Services, Dr Rizwan Naseer, to mobilize the power of humanity to build disaster resilience and transform communities in Pakistan through the effective and pragmatic involvement of volunteers. So far, over 5,000 CERTs have been established in all Punjab Union councils. The emergency service organizes the National Volunteer CERTs Challenge each year to assess, analyze local disaster preparedness and recognize volunteer teams. 5th National CERT Volunteer Challenge held at Lahore Emergency Services Academy, where 45 volunteer teams across the country had the same chance to showcase their disaster response skills as part of the competition. The inter UC contest winner CERT Volunteer participated as a team of volunteers representing the district in the National Challenge. The Academy’s designated team of assessors assessed all teams on Community Disaster Response Skills (CADRE) skills. Congratulations to all the volunteer teams who participated in the National CERT Challenge and special appreciation for the first three winning districts. Kudos to their DEOs and RSOs and their teams who worked hard to get this recognition, but all the teams performed well, so no need to be discouraged, who didn’t get a job.

Remember! The efforts of volunteers are never in vain, as they build trust within society, develop strong bonds between groups, improve harmony and limit distance.

I pay a rich tribute to all the volunteers for their continued motivation, their invaluable contribution as responsible citizens of their community. Hello to all the volunteers.

In order to train young people and make them socially responsible, the government of Punjab has taken the initiative of the Rescue Cadet Corps (RCC) in accordance with the NCC. In view of COVID-19, the RESCUE CADET CORPS (RCC) app has been launched to digitize all volunteer data and offer them the opportunity to register and train online. This application would further assist in coordination, deployment of volunteers in emergencies and disasters. Through this app, volunteers can join RCC by registering as a Rescue Scout and get online training on five core modules of the Community Safety Training Course. These modules include first aid, fire safety, road safety, a healthy and clean Pakistan and a clean environment. Successful participants will be hired to the nearest community rescue stations for hands-on practice of rescue techniques and subsequent deployment for safety promotion activities. In addition, advanced training will also be organized free of charge by the emergency service to improve their skills in preparedness, intervention and prevention.

All volunteers should be aware that Relief Stations have been declared Community Relief Stations to provide CERTs with the ability to use relief infrastructure across Punjab to voluntarily work with emergency services and transform their communities. Rescue Scouts carry out their duties in emergency response, awareness raising, training and conducting safety investigations after receiving essential training in emergency and disaster management from trainers lifeguards certified. The purpose of all of these activities is to provide a platform for Rescue Scouts at the government level and to bridge the gap between government and communities as the District Emergency Officer of any district is the secretary of the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and may also present the issues at the District Emergency Board (DEB) meeting chaired by the relevant district deputy commissioner. In this way, the problems raised by CERT never go unanswered. We value our volunteers and highly recognize their contribution. During COVID-19, volunteers helped Rescue Service distribute approximately 50,000 Rations Packs to deserving families and raise awareness. We all appreciate them. I would like to thank VSO Pakistan’s support for building the capacity of CERTs with kits, training rescuers on the WASH program during COVID-19 and organizing the CERT challenge. The movement of scouts and guides is revived by Ch Muhammad Sarwar, the honorable governor of Punjab and Mrs. Parveen Sarwar, president of the Association of the guides of Punjab, while the Pakistani Red Cross also has an extensive network of volunteers linked to an international network. All of these volunteer forums must work together and make joint efforts to transform their respective communities for a better life for our future generations. All professionals like doctors, teachers, lawyers, engineers and experts from different fields should offer their services as professionals can make a visible difference for the development of healthy and resilient communities in Pakistan.

Deeba Shahnaz Akhter