“You are the Ministry of Volunteerism of Jordan. Your mentality and your attitude provide an example for society to create positive change,” said Tomas Kvedaras, head of the UN volunteering programmes in Jordan at the UN Volunteers Awards (UNVA) ceremony on Tuesday.
Organised on the occasion of the International Day of Volunteers marked annually on December 5, the awards ceremony aimed to “reward the efforts and achievements of Jordanian volunteers and highlight volunteer contributions to peace and development in Jordan”, according to the organisers.
The celebrations started off with an “initiatives market” showcasing the 28 volunteers projects selected through an online competition which ran between November 1 and 22, calling for social media users to vote for their preferred social initiative.
“Since they were uploaded, the 62 videos have been watched more than 60,000 times and received over 20,000 votes,” Kvedaras told The Jordan Times at the event, highlighting the huge turnout of participants at the event.
“We live in a collective society, and we need to learn how to be individuals as part of a wider community,” said Karam Jad, a volunteer with Tareek Hor (“Free Road” in Arabic), a project that seeks to engage children and youth in various projects in the fields of culture, sport and education, among others.
Running for the “medium scale” award, the initiative aims to “motivate kids and youth to get out of their shell and make their voices heard”, while strengthening their links with all segments of society.
Competing for the “technology and innovation” award, Robotna’s founder Jaser Al Harasis voiced his pride to see the initiative he launched in 2013 be recognised by the public.
“Technology and programming are tools which are essential for the future so we teach students at schools and in host communities how to master the skills of robotics to equip them for the future,” he said, noting that Robotna’s 20 volunteers have already reached 200 students.
Representing the Voicrill initiative, Amenah Bustami recalled how the project, which seeks to record academic books for visually impaired students, started out with a few University of Jordan students recording on their mobile phones.
“Now, we have a studio at the university and we hope to scale up the initiative to all the universities across the Kingdom,” she said, noting that they currently focus on recording the mandatory curriculum required in various academic streams.
Held by UN Volunteers (UNV) and sponsored by KOICA, in cooperation with the Jordan Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD), All Jordan Youth Commission, INJAZ and Int@j
, the UNVA awarded seven projects in the following categories: best volunteer initiative at the large, medium and small scales; best university volunteer initiative; best international volunteer assignment; best volunteer initiative in entrepreneurship; best volunteer initiative in the field of technology and innovation and best online volunteer.
“There are a lot of volunteer initiatives in Jordan, but there is a lack of coordination among them, and they are all scattered, like islands in the ocean,” Kvedaras said, adding “what we try to do with UNV is to bring them all on board to create a network that can be mobilised and spread awareness at a larger scale.”
Commending the work of all the participants gathered at the ceremony, he stressed the importance of “helping others, both for the good of society as a whole, but also as a way to develop yourself, make friends, and create a better tomorrow”.
Country Director of KOICA Byun Sook-Jin stated: "In our perspective, volunteering is not an obligation, it is a form of devoting one's life to humanity and peace."
The UNV programme, which is active in 130 countries worldwide, under the administration of the UN Development Programme, seeks to contribute towards peace and development through volunteerism, according to its website.
Jordan Times: Dec 06, 2017