Statement on the occasion of International Volunteers Day, 5th of December 2018

Statement on the occasion of International Volunteers Day, 5th of December 2018
Modified:04 Dec 18

Volunteers build resilient communities. For almost 100 years in the world and 70 years in Yugoslavia and Serbia international volunteers build the resilience of the global community through workcamps – resilience against omnipresent intolerance among peoples, growth of nationalistic ideas that place people either on black or white side.

We celebrate the International Volunteers Day on the 5th of December with the goal to remind ourselves about the importance of being a volunteer and our intent to empower active citizenship, critical thinking and resilience, of young people the most, against the viruses of inequality, selfishness and egoism.

Our choices and action, especially when we are under pressure, are determined by our values. We believe the right values are being thought through volunteering and we believe that, faced with the challenges of the today’s society, those who volunteer will always chose solidarity and respect of others.

For the last four years workcamps in Serbia are being recognized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia. Our effort is joined with that of the Resource Centers under the programme „Youth Rules“, the only national youth volunteering programme systematically supported by the state. Today we recognize the importance of the volunteers involved in this programme, who in 2018 alone gave more than 30.000 of voluntary hours for building the resilience of our community by putting solidarity, intercultural dialogue and respect of human rights in action.

Workcamps have been organised in Yugoslavia since the 1950’s and since 1990 through Voluntary Service of Serbia within Young Researchers of Serbia. For a long time for us in Serbia workcamps used to be among the very few doors open to the world and among the very few vaccines against the viruses of xenophobia and unilateral thinking. Young people used to come to Serbia then, as they are coming now, and used to go from Serbia to the world, so as to learn how to be critical towards the current political happenings, so as to research and build their own cultural identity, and, above all, so as to know the world first hand.

Workcamps don’t build only the resilience of communities by dealing with problems and challenges of those communities, like working with marginalized groups, nature protected areas, reconstructing and rebuilding public areas and similar. Workcamps build the resilience of the individuals who volunteer as well. To us it is of great importance to consider workcamps as an educational tool, a laboratory of experiences that explains to young volunteers what does it mean solidarity in practice, what are human rights and how do they relate to their own lives, what is a cultural identity other than the national anthem, traditional cloths and cuisine, religion and language, and above all, it revels that diversity is a wealth and not an obstacle.

Volunteering connects people and by that it encourages them to revel and face the problems of today. We in Young Researchers of Serbia will continue to support them in reaching their goals of social justice, in critically analyzing and challenging power structures and by doing so contributing to a constant social transformation. We promise to protect the independence of their ideas and to provide them with space and resources to express their civic conscience.

On the occasion of International Volunteers Day, 5th of December 2018
Young Researchers of Serbia – Voluntary Service of Serbia


 


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