UNV/ICV team and volunteers are the keyChanging the face of Amran City [Archives:2004/707/Reportage]

January 29 2004
Abdullah Dhabaan
Abdullah Dhabaan
Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Abdulrahman Baker Secondary School has been in poor shape for a long time, with no water supply and toilets, and a yard full of stones, making it rather impossible for the kids to play games such as football and basketball.
However, the situation has completely changed with the arrival of the UNV/ICV project to the city of Amran. A “Portable Water supply was established, trees were planted, the yard cleaned and classrooms and toilets rehabilitated.
“Students can now play football and basketball,” Fuad al-Hidr, School Headmaster said.
Most importantly, he observes, the spirit of the students has completely changed, thus it's become more associated with the school due to their easy access to sports facilities, that in turn have improved their levels of discipline, punctuality and the awareness to keep their school tidy and clean.
The 400 students who took part in the rehabilitation process of the school are now very much enthusiastic about volunteer work.

Making a difference
The school is but one example, as the Urban Development project in Amran City, carried out by the UNV/ICV team is also changing the face of the entire city.
The project, which started in November 2002, aims to mobilize community resources to contribute in urban development as a part of the UN support to Intra-City Volunteerism.
As stated by the UNV/ICV coordinator in Amran Osman Adam ” Our areas of intervention are carried out in the context of the Millenium Development Goals and Country Cooperation Framework.
The team aims to mobilize community participation in development, increase stakeholders, decision- and policy makers and private sector to contribute voluntarily in the development of their city. “
In a further statement, the ICV coordinator said there are 11 male and female volunteer groups comprising of 11 board members for each group. The groups constitute a total of 250 members.

Women involved
More interestingly, the ICV team is working hard to encourage women's involvement in volunteer work, despite the conservative culture and tradition that hampers women participation.
Some workshops and activities have been carried out to raise the community's awareness towards women's such as (Law Protection in Labor Market). This was carried out in the form of a symposium in commemoration of the IVD.
It was held in Amran on Dec. 21, 2003 in Amran.
On behalf of the female's volunteer groups, the head of Women Union in Amran said the event was of great benefit as it “enables both women and men to understand their labor rights.”
The ICV team has encouraged the females towards creating female's volunteer groups in the city.
For the first time ever three female's volunteer groups were established: al-Rahma, al-Amal, and al-Ra'afa, the ICV project coordinator said.
This, of course, could not have been achived without the intervention of the ICV project in the city. Gender equality issues were also discussed in some seminars.
Despite the fact that the project team is working within the limits of its demonstrative budget, the outcome of the project is ensuring great benefit to the community.
“Voluntary work is an indispensable element of development. We highly appreciate the work of the UNV\\ICV team in Amran who are mobilizing voluntary work to promote development of our city. It covers several areas such as health, education, poverty reduction, environment tc. We do acknowledge that there is a tangible success in various aspects of these areas,” said Abdullah Dhaba'an, Secretary General of Local Council (Project supervisor) and main partner of ICV project in Amran.
He observed that as a newly established governorate, people of Amran are not aware of the importance of voluntary work. “Therefore, we need more awareness programs in this respect so that we can achieve objectives of development,” he added.
Moreover, he said that the governorate leadership in cooperation with the ICV team will start implementing a plan for 2004 in order to conduct awareness campaigns in the districts of the governorate on the importance of volunteerism in development at large.

Promoting a new attitude
The UNV/ICV team has also been able to implement a number of activities to promote volunteerism in this city, which still has limited awareness of the economic and social value of voluntary work in urban development.
It started with a workshop to explain to the community and volunteer groups the aims of the project, changing their attitude and understanding which is mainly charity-oriented towards voluntary work for development.
The workshop targeted the entire volunteer groups.
“One of our challenges is how to change this attitude of the volunteer groups to acquire the new concept of volunteerism because it is a new idea for them. We try to convince and mobilize the community to contribute through their own efforts in the development of their city,” Adam said.
However, he believes that this attitude is changing.
“The community became interested to participate with their efforts to do a voluntary work and to contribute in development,” he stressed.
Of course, it goes beyond this to helping the volunteer groups set up their own proposals for projects as well as giving them clues on how to contact the international donors as they lack basic knowledge on fundraising, budgeting and resources mobilization.
An example of that is getting the French Cultural Center to support the female volunteer groups in Amran, celebrate the International Woman Day in Sana'a, showing up their activities.
They are also trained how to implement projects with limit budgets but of great value through building their capacities to be able to define their priorities related to urban development projects.

Hazard awareness:
“I believe the ICV team has succeeded to a great extent in raising awareness of volunteer contribution in the overall development areas, though there is a lot to be done,” said Ubaid Mardam, Amran Red Crescent Office Secretary General.
The ICV team worked with the Red Crescent and other organizations to provide schools with 150 first aid boxes along with necessary medical equipment. Ten boxes have been already distributed while others will follow.
The ICV contacted other international organizations in Yemen like Humanitarian and Development Aid which donated donated the first aid boxes and medical equipment.
Of course, this has taken place after the first Aid training for 44 health students in Amran schools, he said, adding “we are also working together to establish a free mobile health clinic.”
The purpose of this mobile clinic is to offer services to poor communities in far away quarters that have no access to health centers. The ICV project and the Amran health office are cooperating to kick off activities including training workshops on maternal health care, pregnancy, vaccinations against various diseases, birth control as well as environment protection against some viruses that have environment background.
Amran city is heavily polluted due to the Cement Factory located at the heart of the city as well as because of dust as roads are unpaved and lack of trees. For this reason, the ICV project has adopted the idea of greening the city and cooperated with Amran office of Municipality in a joint project of garbage collection and environment preserving.
They mobilized and participated with local volunteers to plant 3000 trees in the streets and schools as well as fixing metallic sign boards in the main streets, markets and city entrances as part of to raising awareness of the hazards of environment pollution. The trees would give natural beauty to the city as well as reduce the ultra-violet raise of the sun and environment threats like soil erosion.

Volunteerism networking
One of the most interesting future actions of the UNV/ICV team is set up Volunteers Coordination Council (VCC) to network all volunteer groups in Amran. The board members are 22 persons, 2 from each group. This gave volunteer groups a social cohesion as well as a strong voice and presence in the city, enabling them to exchange skills and experience. The VCC is linked to the local council.
“The main purpose of the VCC is to create a contact between the donors and local council and to encourage the community for establishing more community volunteer groups so that the local council can provide some activities to the volunteer groups through the VCC,” Adam said.
It is also planning to set up a volunteer club ( for both male and female groups) so the female can find access to raise their life skills as females are not allowed due to conservative culture to visit other private skills centers run by males. The club will give females access to acquire social knowledge and establish contact with other females' counterpart within the boundary of the city or with other cities; this club can also reduce gender sensitization between the males and the females and can be a forum of the city in which the volunteer groups can invite the stakeholders and other partners to discus the city development concerns.
Above all, the club can be a permanent bazaar center for the females to sell their products and to make income to improve their economic status.
The ICV team established a good relation with the local authorities in Amran city as well as international donors.