Celebrating the contribution of Ireland’s overseas volunteers

29 November 2013
Did you know that some 4,500 Irish people volunteered overseas in 2012? It’s an astonishing number and a level of support that certainly deserves some sort of recognition. And that’s exactly what Comhlámh plans to do on the fifth of December. That’s the day when Comhlámh is celebrating the UN-designated International Volunteer Day — a day when it will showcase the work of returned overseas volunteers and toast the valuable contribution they make to global development from Ireland. It’s entirely appropriate that Comhlámh should be doing this. It was set up by Irish returned development workers, who defined the organisation’s principle objective as “to enable persons who have rendered services overseas in developing countries upon their return to Ireland to bring to bear their own particular experience in order to further international development co-operation”. That statement and the founding of Comhlámh both took place nearly forty years ago — in 1975. Today Comhlámh — and the cause that led to its founding — are, we would suggest, more pertinent than ever. So do give your support to the event if you can (and bring along your organisation’s volunteers on the day). It’s at Culture Box, 12 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin, and features a number of impressive speakers and exhibitors from the world of art, photography, writing, social engagement and, of course, volunteering. More at: http://comhlamh.org/ivd13-global-citizens/ However, if you can’t get to Dublin on the day, do find out more about International Volunteer Day (IVD) (http://www.unv.org/what-we-do/intl-volunteer-day.html). This has been an international observance designated by the United Nations since 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer organisations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions — at local, national and international levels — to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Those contributions are at the centre of what Comhlámh, Friends of Londiani and so many other Irish organisations are trying to do. Long may they continue.