05/12/2015 – Colombo, Sri Lanka: Today is International Volunteer Day. This day we celebrate the support and invaluable services rendered by thousands of volunteers across the island.
At Sri Lanka Red Cross there are over 7000 active volunteers who engage in providing services such as first aid, emergency relief, assisting during times of disasters, and providing professional support. They mostly help in times of emergencies.
Below is the full message from the President of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society Mr. Jagath Abeysinghe
Today is International Volunteer Day. We celebrate and thank the invaluable service provided by our volunteers to communities across the island, specially in times of disasters and emergency.
Volunteers are at the heart of the Red Cross and have been since we were founded more than 75 years ago. As many over 7000 volunteers participate in activities across the 25 branches of the country. They work tirelessly to ensure that the most vulnerable people in communities have access to services and support. They are often there first on the scene when a disaster hits, providing immediate relief. They conduct health campaigns, operate ambulances, and first aid settings, they develop digital approaches to development work, educate children, provide comfort and care to refugees, work to alleviate social isolation in communities. The sheer scale and scope of what they undertake and achieve each day across Sri Lanka is astonishing.
Volunteers however do more than deliver services, they help strengthen community resilience, they develop social cohesion, they engage in civic processes and they advocate fiercely on behalf of vulnerable people. For the Red Cross they ensure that we as an organisation remain rooted in the communities we serve, that we are informed, guided and governed by them.
This year the world’s governments agreed on a common vision for the world’s poor: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Perhaps more than ever before there has been a strong emphasis on the need to localize resources, expertise and authority. This is a welcome focus, and one in which community volunteers will play a critical role. Volunteerism, if appropriately supported, can ensure that development agendas are owned at the local level, that they are developed appropriately in line with cultural and social contexts, and that initiatives reach those who are living in the hardest to reach areas. It is hard to imagine any of the SDGs being fully achieved without the support of many millions of volunteers.
On this day as we celebrate and thank the services of invaluable Volunteers, they will need to be genuine partners in our efforts with an equal voice, and as drivers of change for vulnerable people rather than delivers of services.
It is our hope that this report contributes to this debate and helps to inspire further dialogue, reflection and ultimately the development of policy and practice. As part of the world’s largest humanitarian volunteer organization, and as Sri Lanka’s largest volunteering organization we will work with stakeholders at all levels to promote volunteering and to support enabling environments where volunteering can thrive. Simply put: no other actors understand the needs of their communities, or the solutions to those challenges, better than a volunteer.
Your service is the bedrock of our response and without you we would have not been able to assist millions of Sri Lankans in their time of need. For that I wholeheartedly Thank you.
Sri Lanka Red Cross Society
05th December 2015
If you like to volunteer register today by filling this Volunteer Application Form.