The United Nations has designated 2011 as International Year of Volunteers + 10. This Initiative provides a framework to capitalize on IYV+10  to motivate individuals, organizations, service institutions, schools, universities, government agencies, and socially responsible businesses throughout the Arab World to work together to strengthen and improve volunteering in the region. 

VOLUNTEERING: Clarification of the Term

§Bring together key people in volunteerism in the Arab World to share knowledge, experiences, and needs regarding volunteering in the region.
§Provide basic training, as well as orientation to other training opportunities available, with the goal of expanding and improving the core of specialists in volunteerism in the Arab World, drawing on Arab cultural traditions and experiences, as well as expertise from within the region and worldwide.
§Develop effective service programs for elementary, intermediate, and secondary schools, technical schools, and universities that foster a culture of volunteering.
§Provide funding opportunities for those who would develop major sustainable volunteer development projects in their countries in 2011.
§Provide information, models, support, and advocacy for the development of national volunteer policies in countries of the region.
§Develop mechanisms for networking, resource development, sharing, collaboration, and mutual support among those who promote volunteering in the region that will last long after 2011.

§The public launching of the Initiative, probably mid-January 2010 after establishing an advisory board for the Initiative, recruiting initial partners and sponsors, and setting a basic schedule and framework.
§An initial training and sharing conference (preferably September 2010).
§A training workshop in summer 2010 for educational specialists, to develop Learning to CARE teams in different Arab countries to train schools in how to develop effective school service programs.
§The funding and follow-up of initiatives to promote and develop volunteer programs in poorer Arab countries (to be proposed within two months of the conference, planned in 2010 and 2011, and implemented throughout 2011).
§A series of web seminars to allow interactive networking and support throughout the Initiative period.
§The collection of available resources (books, videos, government documents) to support volunteerism in the region.
§The translation into Arabic and cultural adaptation of selected resources.
§The development of culturally authentic children’s book, videos, and other materials in Arabic to help support a culture of volunteering in the region.
§The development of an online clearinghouse in Arabic to make resources easily available online.
§The collection and evaluation of previous research and the development and implementation of new research on volunteerism across the region.
§A second conference in 2011 (IYV+10), ideally around the date of December 5 (International Volunteer Day) in which Arab countries share what they have done since the first conference to promote volunteering, and to determine next steps in the development of volunteering in the region.
VOLUNTEERING: Clarification of the Term
Volunteering, as presented here, has three criteria:
     The work is done for good- for the benefit of society.
     The person does it for free (without financial compensation for the services provided).
     The person freely chooses to do it (not required or coerced).
This is different from most UN Volunteering, Peace Corps, and other programs that give cost-of-living stipends to “volunteers”. While a few people can be full-time volunteers according to these criteria, in most cases, this kind of volunteering is part-time, and done alongside of one’s work or studies (after work/school, weekends, holidays, and vacations). It is an integral part of citizenship and civic engagement, and can either be done within existing institutions or as new initiatives to address a social need.
This includes volunteering for:
§Service institutions (hospitals, schools, elderly homes, institutions for those with disabilities, museums, orphanages, concert halls, etc.)
§Voluntary organizations that serve a diversity of causes
§Government agencies (municipalities, ministries of health, environment, education, etc.)
§Emergency preparedness and relief
§Special initiatives to serve a short term need

With very few exceptions, people of all ages, abilities, and social circumstances can volunteer, given appropriate opportunities to do so, including:
§Youth, through their schools and youth organizations, and through family volunteering
§Working people through corporate volunteering (volunteering of staff and their families promoted and facilitated by companies)
§People who are not employed
§Elderly and retired people
§People with disabilities

What is seriously lacking in the region is:
§Awareness of more professional approaches to volunteering.
§Government policies to support and encourage volunteering, and to remove existing constraints.
§A core of specialists who can provide training and consultation to institutions and organizations that wish to establish effective volunteer programs or improve programs that already exist.
§Opportunities to share expertise, resources, and experiences (conferences, webinars, workshops, websites).
§Written and audio-visual materials in Arabic to support volunteer programs:
§Training materials  
§Workbooks/textbooks for youth
§Manuals – how-to guides on different types of volunteering
§Books, videos, and other materials for children to develop a spirit of volunteering

A wide variety of partners are needed to provide the expertise, contacts, experience, and resources to make this Initiative a reality.

1) Association for Volunteer Services (AVS)

AVS is the coordinating partner of this Initiative. AVS was established to promote, facilitate, and improve volunteering and community service throughout Lebanon and beyond. It has had 10 years of experience in developing programs and providing consulting and training on all aspects of volunteerism, not only in Lebanon, but also in Egypt, Kuwait, the UAE, and Syria. Its president and director, Dr. Patricia Nabti, is the initiator and coordinator of this Initiative and is the regional representative of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) for the Arab Nations (2009-2011). AVS has been the National Representative of IAVE in Lebanon since 2003.

 2) Arab Thought Foundation (ATF)

ATF is a non-governmental independent foundation established in 2001. It was launched and founded by HRH Prince Khalid Al Faisal. ATF’s headquarters are located in Beirut, Lebanon. It is a joint initiative between businessmen and intellectuals to promote Arab core principles, values and morals within the confines of responsible freedom. It is concerned with all fields of knowledge, covering sciences, culture and the arts. It works to bring together the intellectual discourses and cultural actions that advocate Arab solidarity, development and the preservation of Arab identity.

3) The International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE)

IAVE is a primary partner in the Initiative, providing it with international recognition and credibility. It was created in 1970 by a small group of people from throughout the world who shared a common vision of how volunteers can contribute:

  • To the solution of human and social problems, and
  • To the development of bridges of understanding among people of all nations.

They recognized the importance of international exchange of information, best practices and mutual support as a way of encouraging and strengthening volunteering worldwide. IAVE is one of only four international organization with the mission to promote, celebrate, and strengthen volunteerism worldwide. IAVE holds regional conferences in different regions of the world. The Arab Forum to Foster a Culture of Volunteering will serve as the first IAVE Regional Conference for the Arab World in Lebanon in 2010 as part of this Initiative, and it is hoped that the Initiative will end with the 2nd IAVE Regional Conference for the Arab World in December 2011 in another country in the region. The IAVE Youth Office in Catalonia is actively collaborating on the Initiative, particularly in terms of its youth-related components.

3) The Arab Thought Foundation


4) Other Program Partners
We seek a broad spectrum of other partners (both regional and international) who are integrally involved with content and are active participants in Initiative programs (attending conferences and trainings, contributing their expertise, sharing their experiences, developing resources, suggesting and recruiting participants, and establishing their own volunteer initiatives within the larger regional Initiative).
4) Sponsoring Partner(s):

5) Other sponsors
The Initiative will need many other sponsors from within the region and beyond who will provide monetary and in-kind contributions. These might include embassies, businesses, foundations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.

which serves as
September 15-18, 2010 - Lebanon


Objectives of the Conference:
§Bring together those who have expertise in volunteering and those who want to develop volunteer initiatives in their own countries
§Provide orientation to the scope of the Initiative and of volunteerism, in general
§Share ideas, experiences, and expertise that can help achieve the objectives of the Initiative
§Provide basic training on volunteerism
§Introduce available funding opportunities
§Orient participants to the various facilities available to stay connected over the course of the Initiative

When: Not finalized – most likely in September 2010
Where: Not finalized – venues ranging from hotels to university campuses are being considered.
§Volunteer centers, unions, NGOs, websites, and other institutions which promote volunteering in the Arab World
§Government agencies interested in promoting volunteering for and from their agencies
§National Volunteer Committees/Councils in the Arab World
§Companies engaged in corporate volunteering (or considering it)
§IAVE members
§Individuals in NGOs or government agencies in any Arab country who are likely to have the ability, commitment, and position to develop programs or institutions to promote volunteering their own country or across the Arab region.
Language: Arabic – with simultaneous translation into English and possibly French

Possible Workshops
§Developing a Volunteer Center
§Education, Volunteering, and Community Service
§Developing a University Center for Civic Engagement/Volunteering/Philanthropy
§Corporate Volunteering
§Family Volunteering
§Volunteering of the Retired and Elderly
§Volunteering of those with Disabilities
§Government Agencies – volunteering for and from these agencies
§Volunteering of Diaspora Residents Visiting their Home Country
§Global Youth Service Days
§Studies of Volunteering in the Arab World; past and future research
§Developing National Committees on Volunteering – what they are doing, can do
§National Volunteer Policies
§Volunteer Planning for National Emergency Preparedness Programs
§Training in Volunteer Recruitment/Volunteer Management
§IT and Social Networking to Promote Volunteering
§Preparing for International Year of Volunteers + 10 (2011)
Presentations by Participants: The conference committee would invite people throughout the Arab World to propose presentations and then evaluate them to allow the best to be presented. The conference will encourage different formats, both conventional and unconventional.
Special Youth Program:  A special youth conference for young volunteer leaders (15-30) in the different countries (usually this is done for 1-3 days just before the main conference so that the youth can participate in the main conference, share their ideas and enthusiasm, and learn from the adults). Sessions might include:
§Sharing experiences
§Who volunteers? why? how? rights and responsibilities
§Global Youth Service Days
§Discussion of problems of youth volunteering in the Arab World
§Some actual volunteer project(s)
§Recommendations to the main conference
Publication displays:  Display of different resources on volunteering/community service/service learning (mainly from the US, Canada, England) – in English and French – and whatever is available in Arabic.
Films: Ongoing showing of relevant films.
Exhibition: Posters on volunteering from around the world.
Display area: A space for participants to display or distribute their pamphlets, posters, etc.

Fieldtrips: At IAVE International Conferences they have fieldtrips to volunteer programs throughout the country – one bus (small or large) to each area – with NGOs or volunteer centers hosting them.  We would need to see who might host such fieldtrips in Lebanon. These would combine sight-seeing with introduction to local volunteer programs.
Funding: Participants would pay a registration fee. Sponsors are needed for monetary and in-kind contributions. Hopefully there would be a scholarship fund to allow participants from poorer Arab countries to attend.
Food: At IAVE conferences, there is always a banquet dinner with speeches of very important people from the host country and abroad, and cultural performances, either from participating countries or just from the host country.  Other meals (mainly lunches and dinners) have been handled differently at different IAVE conferences – sometimes being paid for as part of registration, and then catered; sometimes people taking care of it themselves if there are restaurants close by.  Sometimes a sponsor hosts a meal.
Cultural Trip: There could be a special sightseeing and cultural trip as well, maybe as an option before or after the conference.
Staff and Volunteers: This is definitely a very major project and would need funding for staff, enlarged office space, equipment and supplies for planning and preparation – and onsite work. Funds would be needed to hire a professional conference organizer. The conference would also need a lot of volunteers – trained and organized ahead of time. 
Post-Conference Funding Opportunities: Funding sources would be lined up so that participants from poorer Arab countries would be given the opportunity to present a proposal within 2-3 months after the conference to undertake a major volunteer development project in their country to be implemented in 2011.
Follow-up Support: A series of “webinars” would be held online in Arabic to provide further training in specific areas of volunteering. In addition, participants would be provided with information about specialists that can provide training and consulting specific to their needs. These would include specialists from both within the region and outside it.
Follow-up Conference: A second regional conference in 2011 would provide an opportunity for countries of the region to share the developments that have taken place in the field of volunteerism in their countries since the 2010 conference, be given increased training, and discuss what still needs to be done to promote, facilitate, and improve volunteering in the region.
Website/Resources: In the interim between the two conferences resources would be developed and made available to those who wish to improve volunteerism in their countries. This would hopefully be sustained beyond the two conferences. Existing websites would be reviewed to see if they can be supported and enhanced to serve this need or whether a new website would need to be constructed specifically for this purpose.

Patricia Nabti, Ph.D.
Director, Association for Volunteer Services
Representative of the Arab Nations (2009-2012) for the
International Association for Volunteer Effort/IAVE
961-1-449470    961-3-757098


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