Deeba Shahnaz Akhtar

 International Volunteer Day (IVD) was designated by United Nation (UN) General Assembly to be celebrated on 5th of December every year. This year, IVD is being celebrated worldwide with a special focus on local community volunteers, who contribute to make their communities more resilient against natural disaster, economic stress and political shocks. To promote volunteerism and contributing Sustainable Development Goals through volunteer participation, Punjab Emergency Service initiated Rescue Mohafiz Program as per provision of Section 5(g) of Punjab Emergency Service Act 2006. Under this program, Master trainers from all districts of Punjab have been trained at Emergency Services Academy and community safety wings of all districts put their best efforts to promote volunteerism. With collective and directional efforts, the officers of the Service provided awareness and trained in total 500,000 community people in management of emergencies and safety promotion.

The service aims for mobilizing the power of humanity through registration and training of 1 million volunteers for safer and resilient communities in Pakistan. Until now, a total of 500,000 people have been sensitized and about 200,000 have been registered after due process of volunteer registration and verification. Besides that 1,20,000 volunteers have been trained on different courses of international standard like Community Action for Disaster Response, Basic Life Support and Fire Safety etc. Furthermore, National Challenge for Community Emergency Response Teams/ Volunteers have also been organized from 26th to 28th November, 2018 at Emergency Services Academy, Lahore to assess, analyze ,and encourage the best volunteer team on International Volunteers Day.

This is the day to promote volunteers contributions to development at local, national and international level. Rescue 1122 worked in true letter and spirit in this regard by holding Awareness Seminar, trainings, engagement of volunteers in different events and organizing National Challenge for volunteers. The winning volunteer teams of this competition will be awarded with cash prize, logistic support, whereas all participating teams will be awarded with certificates of appreciation by the Governor Punjab and DG Rescue Punjab Dr Rizwan Naseer. The grand event is being organized in collaboration with Voluntary Service Overseers VSO to motivate, recognize volunteer work, and encourage volunteerism as volunteers are driven by a desire to contribute to the well-being of their society, without expectation of material reward, and their efforts always promote civic values, peace and social cohesion in the society. Although retention of the volunteers for a long time in a country like Pakistan is a big problem but despite all such facts nobody can deny the strength and impact of the power of humanity when it comes in the form of volunteerism.

On this special day, I salute all the volunteers especially those who have practically contributed for the betterment and development of their respective communities. On behalf of the Service, I would like to congratulate all the volunteer teams of Rescue 1122, Pakistan Red Crescent and FOCUS for their participation in National competition, and special appreciation for District Layyah for winning first position, District Lahore for second position and District Sheikhupura for winning third position in the competition. Volunteer efforts never get wasted, as it develops trust among the society, develop strong linkages between groups, enhance harmony and limits the distance. I pay rich tribute to all volunteers for their continuous motivation, valuable contribution and for being responsible citizens of their community.