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Finding more ways to volunteer in Southern Kordofan

UNV volunteers Francesca Crabu and Nasir Haroun get involved in their local community. (UNV)UNV volunteers Francesca Crabu and Nasir Haroun get involved in their local community. (UNV)The UNV volunteers in South Kordofan mobilized local resources during their clean-up campaign. (UNV)The UNV volunteers in South Kordofan mobilized local resources during their clean-up campaign. (UNV)
26 January 2009

Kadugli, Sudan: A group of UNV volunteers working in Sudan is uniting to volunteer after hours and encourage local people to volunteer in their community.

There are 17 UNV volunteers in Kadugli, Southern Kordofan, assigned to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and UNDP in a variety of roles. Under the leadership of UNV volunteer Staff Counsellor Francesca Paola Crabu from Italy, the group is looking at other ways to contribute to the community too.

The group has made contact with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kadugli, and also with international NGO Save the Children. Together they are planning voluntary events such as a football tournament for homeless and returnee children.

The UNV team has already mobilized members of the local community in self-help projects and demonstrated its adaptability and determination in spite of difficult circumstances.

In lieu of activities for International Volunteer Day on 5 December, on 31 December the team planned a voluntary clean-up event in Kadugli. However, upon arriving they found that political demonstrations were underway in the town square where they had meant to meet local volunteers.

What was more, the stage and public address system allocated for speeches about volunteerism were unavailable, explains Derek O'Rourke, a UNV volunteer Facilities Management Assistant; and the local schoolchildren who had been eager to volunteer were now involved in the demonstration.

Undaunted, the group rapidly revised its plans and handed out rakes intended for the schoolchildren to other people around the marketplace. Accompanied by the two Kadugli dump trucks, they set about cleaning up the local environment.

"Some locals were keen to join in the work, though most were simply bemused at the sight," comments Mr. O'Rourke. "It certainly raised the profile of UNV in the community, and made the locals aware that there is more to the UN than the uniformed version that they are more used to. It was heartening for us UNV volunteers to see locals join in, from old women to young boys."

"It was a good bridge-building exercise between the local community and the UNV idea of volunteerism for development, which they were maybe unaware of before," he concludes.

"UN international staff and the local population are very surprised that someone can set aside a period of their life to be a UNV volunteer," adds Ms. Crabu. "The message that we would like to pass is: 'Be a volunteer at least once in your life, even if it is only for one day.' UN international staff underlined to me that is great to find so many smiling people among the UNV volunteers... And I guess that the impact on the local population is even bigger."

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UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)