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Volunteerism Through the Eyes of Children


10 February 2012 at 9:33 am
Staff Reporter
What does volunteerism look like through the eyes of children? This is what a group of people at the online volunteer service, UN Volunteers, wanted to find out when they started a children’s book initiative.


Staff Reporter | 10 February 2012 at 9:33 am


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Volunteerism Through the Eyes of Children
10 February 2012 at 9:33 am
A selection of the children's images from the UNV e-book. See all the images on the UNV Flickr page  

What does volunteerism look like through the eyes of children? This is what a group of people at the online volunteer service, UN Volunteers, wanted to find out when they started a children’s book initiative.

UNV says that as part of the activities to mark the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10), the idea aimed to engage children worldwide from ages 4 to 11 to draw or paint their ideas around volunteerism, community participation and mutual support.

Over the course of 2011 UNV says that together with local partners around the globe, they collected over 250 children’s drawings from about 26 countries.

In Nepal, for instance,they found that through games with volunteers and social workers, children from Kathmandu Community Centre for Refugees reflected their own lives and felt empowered as volunteers inspired them to be creative.

UN Volunteer Amalia Alcarón, who participated in an activity organized by UNV Colombia, was surprised to see "small children already understanding the concept of volunteerism although no one has probably explained it to them before. They appreciate the work of others, working together in solidarity – it was almost instinctive. These are values that as adults we tend to forget, so it is important to reinforce them from childhood so they are not lost.”

In Haiti, an activity involving 120 school kids was combined with International Environment Day on June 5.

Environmental issues were touched through workshops organized by 35 UN Volunteers, the Haitian NGO ‘Terre des Jeunes’ and the French NGO ‘France Volontaires’.

“We managed to get important messages while playing with them,” said Samah Walter, a volunteer from Civil Affairs of MINUSTAH, the UN mission in Haiti.

He said not only the students but also the entire community would benefit.

“Children will get the message to their families and neighbours.”

For online volunteer Renan M. Campregher, a Brazilian graphic designer, creating the layout of the e-book was eye-opening. “This was one of most interesting experiences of my life. It gave me the opportunity to see drawings and words of children from many parts of world. And through them I understood how important and broad volunteerism is. I felt really involved and also very motivated to participate in something so beautiful. I spent hours and days to complete the book, and I didn't see the time pass. The material is not only a tribute to those who give themselves to help, but the reflection of gratitude.”

Marilen Sanchez, a UNV staff member who coordinated this global initiative, says Renan’s support and creativity were crucial for the project. “When our team started the children’s book project back in February 2011, all we had was a great idea, an ambitious goal but nothing else," he said.  

“Renan became an extended arm of the team, connected from the other side of the hemisphere. He quickly understood what we needed and provided appealing graphic examples.”

The result was an e-book and a virtual gallery designed by an online volunteer. Find out more about UNV at www.onlinevolunteering.org
 

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