By: Muradh Mohideen
John Ruskin once said “the highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become because of it”. In a nutshell this sums up the inspiration behind volunteering; be it sitting behind a desk and filling out invites, or handing out relief items to people knee deep in water. As volunteers we help create a better world, through one person and one act of kindness at a time.
Every year the United Nations Volunteer Programme in Sri Lanka organizes the International Volunteers Day to celebrate the efforts of volunteers in Sri Lanka, who day in and day out engage in acts of volunteerism bringing hope to many of the island’s disadvantaged.
This year’s programme was significant as it coincided with the launch of the International Year of Volunteers set to take place in 2011 (IVY+10), to celebrate its 10th anniversary and showcase the diversity of volunteers of all ages, cultures, backgrounds and experiences. The audience of over 400, who gathered at the British School Auditorium to witness the event, were left mesmerized by the show that was on display.
Delivering keynote addresses, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations Mr. Neil Buhne spoke of the importance of volunteering on a national level to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 whilst also pointing out that volunteering “makes people happy”.
Prof. S.D. Hettige from the Department of Sociology of the University of Colombo emphasized the importance of volunteerism as a vital constituent in bringing about change whilst experiencing a sense of satisfaction in creating opportunities for those less fortunate.
Representing the Ministry of Social Services, Executive Advisor Kirby de Lanerolle further reiterated the importance of volunteerism and called upon each one of us to dedicate ourselves towards helping individuals that require our assistance.
The highlight of the event was the diverse array of performances on display by professional artists and talented individuals from partner volunteer organizations; all of whom united under the theme of volunteerism to spend their time in entertaining the audience.
While the percussion instruments of Naadro and the performance of the sisters Umara and Umaria had the audience enthralled, they were brought to their feet to the witty tunes of Billy Fernando and the drums of Elephant Foot. Wendy Perera’s awe-inspiring grace in her ballet dance and the talented performers from the National Youth Services Council put on display three spectacular performances that etched lasting memories in the minds of those that made it.
The event not only lived up to the theme of IYV+10 ‘inspiring the volunteer in you’ but it reminded us as volunteers that ‘what we are doing may just be a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop’.