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Fiji Time: 11:15 AM on Saturday 19 April

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A day to celebrate

Elenoa Baselala
Monday, December 06, 2010

EMPLOYEES of several regional and international organisations turned up at the United Nations Park in Suva on Saturday to commemorate International Volunteer Day.

The UN also organised an online film festival, which started on December 4 and crossed 12 time zones, to see how voluntary action was making a difference in tackling challenges related to environment, hunger, education, maternal health, gender equality, and HIV and AIDs.

"These stories don't make the news but they are changing the world," said UN Volunteers executive co-ordinator Flavia Pansieri.

"International Volunteer Day is a chance to recognise the contribution of volunteers, especially their role in helping to meet the Millennium Development Goals."

Annually, volunteers contribute over $700 billion to the global economy, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies.

The film festival shared the story of volunteers fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS in Vanuatu รน "the happiest country in the world".

"Volunteers are making the Goals happen, and in places where the Goals are off target, volunteerism, if supported and managed well, could help turn situations around," Ms Pansieri said.

"We need to do more than say thank you.

"There is an opportunity now for decision makers to expand volunteer action in efforts aimed at meeting the Goals by empowering volunteers through supportive policies."

Many of the stories that were related were made by volunteers or inspired by volunteers working with a range of agencies including the United Nations, the United Kingdom's Voluntary Service Overseas, Australian Volunteers International, and civil society groups around the world.

The festival passed through Fiji, Vanuatu, the Philippines, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Kenya, Cyprus, Albania, Zambia, Guinea Bissau, Spain, Liberia, Ghana, Haiti, Jamaica, Ecuador and Samoa.

Online volunteers based in Malaysia and the United Kingdom and working with organisations in Guatemala, Nepal and Afghanistan were also featured.