In the U.S. we celebrate the spirit of volunteering throughout the year, such as during National Volunteer Week in April, United Way Day of Action on June 21, and the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11. But we aren’t the only country that rallies volunteers through big events; Ireland and Australia celebrate National Volunteer Week in May, and the United Kingdom celebrates in June. And globally, people come together to make a difference on international volunteer days such Nelson Mandela Day on July 18 and on International Volunteer Day on December 5.
From January 12-18, 2004, India held its first ever National Volunteering Week. The initiative was spearheaded by India@75, a grassroots movement aiming to “build a better India” by the country’s 75th birthday in 2022. India@75 aims to spur greater volunteer engagement and to create a mechanism to meet the demand and supply of volunteers by providing a National Volunteering Grid, where individuals, community and organizations will have opportunities to participate.
United Way of India shares this mission of improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities. Present in eight cities, Bangalore, Baroda, Chennai, Delhi, Hubli-Dharwad, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai, United Way of India strives to leverage the talents and expertise of the community to craft solutions to India’s unique social problems and set the standard for results and accountability.
For example, to celebrate National Volunteer Week and the traditional south Indian festival, “Namma Ooru Pongal,” United Way of Chennai organized volunteers from HCL Technologies and a local college program for aspiring social workers to create a special educational and cultural event at a home for children who, for various reasons, are living away from their families.
Volunteers created a “village” in the home to depict the environment typical of an Indian village. On January 17, 2014, nearly 220 children participated in eight different activities, such as traditional games, painting pots, cooking the traditional pongal dish, and dancing traditional dances, with trained volunteers helping the children learn about south Indian culture and customs. About 150 volunteers participated in planning and carrying out the event, and Barclays Bank sponsored the afternoon meals for the children.
This is but one example of how United Way is mobilizing volunteers throughout the world to advance the common good. Whether you live in Chennai or Chicago, it takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future for all. Learn how you can help by contacting your local United Way for volunteer opportunities.