Volunteer Recognition Day 2015

On Monday 20th April, Al-Quds University hosted a workshop on Volunteering, Social Entrepreneurship and Employability in celebration of International Volunteer Recognition Day. The workshop was held in association with International Service (UNAIS), a British non-profit organisation.

UNAIS runs the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, funded by the British Government, which sends young people from the United Kingdom to Palestine to work with Palestinian volunteers on issues affecting the youth of Palestine today. The scheme emphasizes the importance of a cultural exchange of ideas.

The workshop was attended by around 100 Palestinian and British volunteers who talked about the importance of volunteer work, in the presence of representatives of the leading Palestinian institutions in the field, especially the International Youth Foundation,  Sharek and Bard college New York, in addition to the Training and Volunteer Unit in Al-Quds University.

Dr. Hussein Jauou, Vice President for Administrative and Financial Affairs, welcomed the attendees and expressed his happiness in embracing this workshop.  He also talked about the history of volunteer work in Palestinian society, saying that "volunteerism plays a fundamental role in building Palestinian society and it is important in building life skills for people”.

Dr. Jaduu added that "We at the Al-Quds University have been interested in volunteer work for many years and that`s why we established a specialized unit in this area 10 years ago (Training and Volunteer Unit), which promotes students` affiliation towards volunteering that will facilitate their career advancement and create within themselves the determination and the passion for a better change in Palestinian society."

Ms. Nancy Shourati, the director UNAIS office in Jerusalem, said that the establishment of the program was carried out by international development agencies such as the International Citizen Service. She added that this program is an opportunity to be used  by young people to share and exchange skills with people around the world.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Mbaid, Country Director for Palestine at the International Youth Foundation, spoke about the importance of community leadership and volunteerism in building a generation of young people who are able to connect and communicate and who are creative and innovative. And this generation is exactly what  our Palestinian community needs in order to solve problems that face us every day.

Sam Shapiro, Coordinator of the Al Quds Bard programme, said that one of the most important aspects of volunteering is that it allows young people to “learn by doing”. The Al Quds Bard programme gives young volunteers an opportunity to develop volunteering initiatives on issues that are important to them. They can then get support to apply for funding.

Mr. Bader Zamaarh, Executive Director of Sharek,  spoke about the challenge we face in promoting the importance of volunteerism in our communities, saying "We are facing challenges of  linking university to the labor market and community work, and in convincing students about the importance of engaging in activities must originate from their will and their desire. So activation programs of voluntary work within Palestinian universities will contribute to increasing the effectiveness and the ability to compete in the Palestinian labor market.

Mr. Zamaarh added that “"It is important to emphasize that volunteer work is not limited to university years, but it is an ongoing process for lifelong learning. We all volunteer in some way throughout our lives."

At the end of the workshop many Palestinians and British volunteers shared their experiences in volunteer work to motivate their colleagues.

Dareen Jid, a team leader on the ICS scheme, spoke of her experience as a volunteer; “I have gained a lot of experience by volunteering. I’ve learnt lots about other cultures, and how youth around the world support Palestine and know about our struggles here.”

Ruba Jamal, a fellow team leader rounded off the speeches by saying; “it doesn’t matter if we are from different cultures or different backgrounds. We are here together to create a better world.”

ICS Volunteers enjoying the Volunteer Recognition Day event - April 2015