General News of Saturday, 13 December 2008

Source: GNA

Ghana marks UN Volunteer Day

Accra, Dec. 13, GNA - The United Nations Volunteer Programme (UNVP), Ghana, has marked this year's Volunteer Day, with a blood donation exercise in Accra on Saturday. The Day, which originally falls on December 5 each year, provides the opportunity for civil society groups, government agencies and the private sector to work together to achieve a common goal. Mr Emmanuel Oduro-Boakye, Communications Associate for the United Nations Development Programme, said the decision to organise the blood donation was in line with efforts to help attain Goal 6 of the Millennium Development Goals. Goal 6 calls for the stopping and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other major diseases, by 2015.

Mr Oduro-Boakye said about 250 persons, made up of youth groups and students from the Central University College, Ghana Institute of Journalism and other universities were expected to donate blood. Mrs Elizabeth Hammond, Country Associate of UNVP, Ghana, said volunteering played a critical role in providing humanitarian and technical assistance to promote human rights, democracy and peace worldwide.

She said volunteerism was not alien to the Ghanaian culture and mentioned the communal labour concept as a traditional practice that buttressed the need for supporting each other to advance society. Mrs Hammond explained that the Volunteer programme created by the UN General Assembly in 1971, had since its inception served as an operational partner in development cooperation at the request of UN member states.

"This provides an avenue for Ghanaians to impart their skills and technical expertise to help in the community and other countries within the region and beyond", she noted. Presently, she said, 26 volunteers are serving in Ghana with over 48 Ghanaians also deployed for various assignments in UN Missions in Africa and elsewhere.

In Ghana, Mrs Hammond said, the programme had collaborated with the three major universities, to deploy students during vacations to teach in deprived schools. "Through this programme, over 100 children and their parents have also been exposed to education on HIV/AIDS, hypertension, malaria, nutrition, dental and personal hygiene", she added. Mrs Hammond stressed the need for the youth to volunteer to help develop their countries whilst enhancing their own employability and capacity for civic engagement.