UNV Ukraine newsletter
International Volunteers Help Ukrainian Rural Communities
by Anna Belousova
Kyiv: The first International Volunteer Promotion Campaign was held from August 27 to September 10, 2007, in Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Chernihiv oblasts. During the two week campaign, volunteers from Poland, Serbia, France, Germany, Denmark, Turkey and Japan joined Ukrainian peers to work on solving actual problems of Ukrainian rural communities. The initiative was sponsored by the UN Volunteers Programme and the Ukrainian Association for Youth Cooperation Alternative-V, with additional support from United Nations Development Programme projects “Human Security for Ukrainian Youth” and Chornobyl Recovery and Development Programme (CRDP).
The team of international volunteers demonstrated good examples of fruitful and effective work in rural communities of Lubech (Chernihiv oblast), Kruglyk (Kyiv oblast), Lystvyn, Kyrdany and Korosten (Zhytomyr oblast). The Volunteer work camp was an excellent format for promoting volunteerism, youth development and cross-cultural connections. Acting at the community level, doing useful things for youth living in Chornobyl-affected territories, the young participants contributed to worldwide efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, as spelled out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
The international volunteers spent 1-2 days in each community and provided trainings for local youth on volunteerism and engaging together with Ukrainian peers in concrete tasks important for the local community.
Meetings and trainings with young Ukrainians and training were conducted in local Youth Centres in the participating villages (listed above). Youth Centres, established in many Ukrainian villages and towns with support from UNDP's CRDP, foster active citizenship, help in solving problems of local youth, and provide access to knowledge and information. The international volunteers’ visit to these centres provided the opportunity not only for obtaining new skills and learning about different volunteerism traditions, but also for demonstrating local achievements and experience.
Korosten Youth Parliamnet representative Mr. Andriy Kostrytsya noted that, “thanks to meeting with international volunteers we understood that volunteerism is not only working for free – it is a real philosophy of citizen participation in community development. Despite the different languages we speak, we understood each other and learned a lot. I would like to stay good friends with our guests and I wish our fabulous city would stay in every heart forever."
This volunteer campaign was an important event not only for Ukrainian rural communities, but for international volunteers as well. The intensive programme of the campaign also included interesting excursions to Kyiv, Chernihiv, and the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. Sharing her impression after visiting Kruglyk (Kyiv oblast), Ms. Kathleen Zeidler from Germany said, “It’s very important and responsible to be here, to meet with young people, to work together. We are clearly aware about the fact that we represent not only our countries, but the volunteer movement as a whole. Here in Kruglyk we communicated our programme to local youth, which was met with full understanding and support. After that, together we worked on cleaning a World War II bunker and the place around it in preparation for establishing an historical museum. Nothing makes people closer than joint useful work”.
Ms. Ann Merrill, Programme Officer for UN Volunteers in Ukraine, summarized that the useful experience of working together to solve local problems in the community, which is a wide-spread approach in different countries, is growing quite quickly in Ukraine.
The final event of the campaign was a press-conference at UNIAN on September 10, 2007, where results of the two-weeks campaign were described, and the prospective of volunteerism in Ukraine was discussed.
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