Virtues of Volunteerism 

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By Staff Writer 

Volunteerism is not a new concept in Ethiopia. It has always been rooted in the country's culture as Ethiopians have a long tradition of helping others in need, especially in times of hardship. In rural areas, it is common for people to volunteer their time and labor to help their neighbors. This might include cultivating their farmlands, building their houses, or providing other essential necessities. Ethiopians also believe in sharing the burden of others, and they often come together to support those who are struggling.

Volunteerism is also common in urban areas of Ethiopia. People volunteer at religious organizations, schools, hospitals, and other community organizations. They donate their time, labor, and money to help those in need. 

For Ethiopian culture volunteerism is a way for people to give back to their community and help those who are less fortunate. It is also a way to build relationships and strengthen the bonds of community.

In the international stage, volunteerism is becoming a global phenomenon. Ethiopia too is riding the train of volunteerism.  Hence, in the past five years, volunteerism has become a major development agenda in the country.

The government has been at the forefront of promoting volunteerism by mobilizing the public to participate in various social and economic development activities. People across the nation are now more motivated than ever to help the needy and others by donating their time, knowledge, and wealth.

The renovation of old houses, provision of food and other essential items for the needy by voluntary organizations and individual groups have become a common practice in all parts of Ethiopia. Ethiopians from all corners of the country have been stepping up their efforts to help others who need assistance. Voluntary community organizations that render essential support to needy people in the urban settings have also been flourishing.  Mekedonia, an organization that provides shelter, food clothes, hygiene facilities, medical, educational and others for the elderly and mentally disabled is one example in this regard. Most of the activities in this organization are undertaken by volunteers. This organization has vastly expanded its services across the country with the support of individuals, government institutions and the public at large. several other similar voluntary organizations have also been expanding in Ethiopia giving hope for thousands of citizens. 

Therefore, this great social capital has a foundation in our communities and has now become a vital instrument in all spheres of nation-building efforts to bring impact on economic and social developments as things are emerging in a new form and practice following drastic socio-economic transformation across the globe.

Since taking office in 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made the notion of volunteerism a central component of his reform agenda. That is to tap the potential of voluntarism through frequent outreach and his platform as Prime Minister, he continues to promote volunteerism and encourage youth involvement in shaping the country.

He also launched a nationwide youth volunteer program to provide various development services to communities across the country. The program that involves university students and high school graduates intends to promote national unity and integration, foster peaceful coexistence and social cohesion by integrating the diversified communities.   

Various other development initiatives have also been introduced by the premier to engaging the general public. ‘Dine for Sheger’ project, which mobilized funds for city projects to improve Addis Ababa’s tourism potential, is one of the first initiatives.  

Following the success registered in this project, Prime Minister Abiy announced ‘Dine for Ethiopia’ tourist destination development initiatives to mobilize 3 billion Birr to construct three tourist destination projects in Gorgora, Wonchi and Koysha. The public and business community participated voluntarily in the realization of these projects, and the nation was able to raise over 4 billion Birr. The construction of these three giant projects is now nearing completion.

The other very encouraging issue to be raised in connection with the culture of voluntarism in Ethiopia is the implementation of the Green Legacy Initiative. The initiative, launched in 2019 to plant 20 billion seedlings in four years, has ended planting over 25 billion forests including fruit seedlings. Over 26 million people have taken part in the planting activities as volunteers.

Implementing the initiative has so far been successful and received international applause as it engaged millions of Ethiopians in the campaign through the act of voluntarism. The initiative, which is important to ensure sustainable development by combating climate change and reducing deforestation, would not have been successful without the massive participation of people from all walks of life.

The massive participation of the public in implementing the green legacy initiative has also contributed to raise awareness about the importance of forestry in tackling poverty and improving the lives of people in the country. Members of the international community have also considered it as exemplary; as it shows the fact that individuals and communities have the power to bring drastic positive changes for nation building and the betterment of citizens.

The voluntary support of Ethiopians for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is also the other success witnessed in Ethiopia. The construction of GERD, a massive hydroelectric dam in Africa, is   underway by Ethiopians without international financial support, as is common in projects of such size. Upon completion, it is expected to change the existing predicaments in terms of power shortages in the country and the region at large. Thanks to the massive public mobilization carried out in Ethiopia to solicit financial and other vital support, the construction of the dam is now nearing completion. The massive public support witnessed by Ethiopians for GERD is also another demonstration of the power of volunteerism to bring about changes in nation-building activities.

In conclusion,   voluntarism in Ethiopia holds the uppermost importance in the development of the country for it has brought significant positive economic and social impacts. The emerging culture of voluntarism in the country has been witnessing the fact that collective action can make a difference in addressing national challenges.  

Hence, engaging communities in all aspects of the development endeavors should be further enhanced through mechanisms like voluntarism. Community engagement is crucial to speeding up development, particularly in a country like Ethiopia, where millions still live in poverty. The pertinent government institutions should take important moves with a view to adequately tapping the power of voluntarism for national development, co-existence, peace, and stability. Voluntarism helps to pave ways for sustainable development as it creates a conducive environment to increase public participation in all government development endeavors, fighting corruption by ensuring accountability and transparency, which are prerequisites for sustainable development.   

 

 

Ethiopian News Agency
2023