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International Volunteer Day
5 December

Secretary-General's Message for 2014

An ambulance rushes a wounded child to a hospital. A hungry family receives a warm meal. A battered woman finds free shelter. In scenes of human suffering around the world, hope comes thanks to volunteers who give their time, skills and resources to others in need.

International Volunteer Day is a chance to thank the many individuals who act with this spirit of giving, and to encourage others to follow their example. When an earthquake destroys homes, volunteers prove that human solidarity is shatterproof. When looters aim for cultural property, volunteers safeguard community treasures. When development is lagging, volunteers help enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.

The humane impulse to assist and empower others that motivates volunteers rebounds back to them in the form of an enriched life. Volunteers offer life skills while expanding their own know-how; they empower communities while earning a sense of personal fulfilment at having made a difference in our world.

This year’s International Volunteer Day takes on special significance as the United Nations prepares to shape a new vision for sustainable development and a new universal climate agreement, both to be adopted next year. I thank the more than 6,300 UN Volunteers and 11,000 UN Online Volunteers who helped millions of people to make change happen by giving them a voice in sustainable development and peace efforts across the globe.

I also pay special tribute to the many volunteers responding to the Ebola crisis. UN volunteers and their counterparts are helping to address the outbreak through prevention, awareness-raising and treatment activities. Their assistance is particularly important as we battle misconceptions about the disease and strive to show compassion for all those who are affected.

On this International Volunteer Day, let us be inspired by the many individuals who selflessly serve others, and let us resolve to do our part to contribute, freely and proactively, to change conditions now towards a better future for all.

Ban Ki-moon

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