One would wonder what motivates a refugee living in war-torn Syria to do voluntary work, but the passion in their eyes and the determination they radiate answer the question.
DAMASCUS, Syria – Refugees Outreach Volunteers in Syria have been supporting the refugees’ communities for many years, and have expanded their inspiring humanitarian efforts to also support the displaced community during the crisis in Syria. Currently there over 60,000 refugees (mainly Iraqis) in Syria who fled war in their country only to find themselves amid another crisis.
“Outreach Volunteers never fail to pass on their skills and empowerment to others in their communities.”
UNHCR Syria’s “Refugees Outreach Volunteers (ORVs)” programme was created in September 2007, it was specifically developed to target refugees in urban settings. Although its primary objective was to identify very vulnerable refugees in need of urgent assistance from UNHCR, the ORVs today are a powerful tool that mobilizes and empowers communities all over Syria. It is a very reliable channel linking the refugees’ communities to UNHCR and its protection services.
The programme demonstrates compassion and acceptance not only among refugees but also with Syrian host communities. Refugees in Syria come from different backgrounds and nationalities, we support them and empower them to build their capacities and enhance their self-reliance. This also entails providing them with the right tools and resources that will effectively empower them within their communities.
“Volunteering is something that I hold and cherish deep within in my heart, it’s what keeps me going through the darkest of times.” Said Jawahir Idrees, an Eritrean volunteer who started volunteering with UNHCR in 2011. UNHCR Damascus Field Office held a ceremony to welcome newly assigned ORVs and took the opportunity to Honor Jawahir, Amani and many other ORVs whose efforts were an inspiration to all the new generation of ORVs.
Amani, an Eritrean volunteer explained her passion to volunteering by saying: “I feel that volunteering gives me more satisfaction and reward than it gives to others. Whatever support I give I feel like I receive much more in return.”
Many of the newly assigned volunteers were inspired by the work of Jawahir, Amani and by Husam-a previous volunteer. “I was too young to volunteer when I was first inspired by Jawahir and Husam, they were always there for me and for other people who needed help.” Said Mariam, an Iraqi volunteer who waited impatiently to reach the eligible age of 18 to apply.
“they were always there for me and for other people who needed help.”
“Some of the volunteers came from very modest backgrounds but they proved that when they are given the tools, resources and training, they can be highly effective and can lead others and represent their community profoundly.” Said Nagham, a Community Service Associate at UNHCR Syria. “They never fail to pass on their skills and empowerment to others in their communities. People will always want to help others when they see a good example.”
Some others use their individual artistic skills, like our talented painter Baiareq who draws smiles on the faces of those who are going through unimaginable hardships wherever she goes.
On the International Volunteer Day, we salute all of our outreach volunteers!