Happy International Volunteer Day!
The theme for this year’s International Volunteer Day (IVD) is volunteer now for our common future. Today, we celebrate the contributions of the millions who volunteer now to build a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future for us all!
In honor of this special celebration, we want to recognize Christine Ntahe, the recipient of this year’s Kenn Allen Global Award for Volunteer Leadership. Read about Christine and her contributions to her community below!
For over 25 years, Christine has been a volunteer leader and human rights activist in Burundi, promoting peace beyond ethnicities, children’s rights and women’s empowerment. Burundi is a country that has faced different cycles of ethnic war, with approximately 75 percent of its citizens live below the poverty line. Christine’s voluntary work through “Bon Geste” Association and Burundi Red Cross has been decisive in helping the vulnerable in various ways, notably playing a leadership role in fighting against inequalities in a politically divided country and contributing to the fulfillment of human rights of children over the years in the city of Bujumbura.
Christine, a journalist by trade, first became to aware of the struggles of street children and orphans at the height of civil war in Burundi through her work at the National Radio in Burundi. She took action to help her community through radio programs that allowed thousands of children, including homeless and refugees, to voice concerns and share their stories on air.
Her enthusiasm and expertise in community engagement motivated her to set-up her own volunteer association “Bon Geste” in 2000 to support street children, orphans and other vulnerable infants in Burundi. Since its inception, her organization has been a safe haven for hundreds of vulnerable children around the country. Christine and her organizations coordinate activities on a voluntary basis, providing school kits and Sunday meals to street children and orphans. To date, her efforts have provided more than 1,000 children with access to education.
Christine is a well-known local leader and human rights advocate in Burundi. She has been nicknamed “Mama Dimanche” (Sunday Mother) for her decades of voluntary work for vulnerable youth, providing them the opportunities and attention they require to flourish and succeed. Many of the young adult volunteers who work with her now were once beneficiaries of her volunteer work when they were children themselves. As an active local volunteer, and strongly believing in the power of volunteering, Christine is leading through her example and promoting lasting changes in her community.
I am humbled and grateful for having my volunteer commitment to the Red Cross and to the vulnerable children in my country, Burundi, recognized by the Kenn Allen Global Award for Volunteer Leadership. This award encourages me to reach out to even more children, to keep the torch of humanity alight, to alleviate the suffering of the vulnerable with impartiality, and to bring smiles and hope to those who might have lost them. I strongly believe in the importance of volunteering. Therefore, I have been committed to the targeted recruitment of present and future generations of youth volunteers, so that they may also contribute to the service of people in greatest need. I pledge every day to make this world a better place so that I do not leave it as I found it, but rather transformed through the power of volunteering.
Christine Ntahe, Association “Bon Geste”, Burundi