THE BLOG
21/11/2013 06:26 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

The Power of Observing - Building a Better Society

There are a number of worldwide observances in which governments, civil society and corporates should be partnering. December 1 is World AIDS Day (WAD) with a Theme of, "Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths"; December 3 is World Disability Day (WDD), "Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all"; December 5 is International Volunteer Day (IVD) "Young, Global, Active"; December 10 is Human Rights Day, "20 years: working for your rights". These observances present a great opportunity to support all activities, while showing the power of collaborating and the possibilities for real change.

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On some level all of these observances are related, with a common thread of youth, as the new leaders of today and the elders of tomorrow, taking a leading role in making change happen. Youth must remove deep seeded entrenchment of, e.g. violations of human rights and lead in creating a much more inclusive world. Youth must bring new attitudes, not be apathetic and find new ways to resolve the issues which face this planet.

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I'm very excited about these upcoming days as I was previously, for eight years, Director of an HIV/AIDS organisation, Alliance for Living, in the US, volunteered for three years with the National Trust, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, working in the field of developmental disabilities and have been a CUSO and VSO volunteer since March 2009, with all of my work centered on human rights. My thought was that somehow we could "reach out" to one another and loosely tie the events "together" to bring the full power of civil society to the fore, moving beyond "preaching to the choir", and creating more awareness about each of these efforts throughout the general population.

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Recently United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Nepal initiated a meeting with a number of volunteering agencies, i.e. VSO, JICA, KOICA, Peace Corps and ENGAGE, to discuss IVD. There will be a wonderful celebration on December 5, as well as, volunteer events on the days leading up to the celebration, but we have also reached out to those leading disability and HIV/AIDS movements in Nepal to connect with and show the full power of volunteering and collaboration. The results of this mean that during the entire week of December 1 there will be a full range of events, i.e. rallies, marches, vigils, sporting events, discussions, a medical camp, Human Rights Film Focus Nepal, (with a focus on stopping violence against women) in which civil society, the Government and corporates will be supporting one another in observing each of these Days.

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As I had previously written in the Himalayan Times Perspectives on October 27, "Developing Partnerships", it is vital to transcend egos and "our" organisational goals to work collaboratively towards what Nepalis want. It isn't necessarily about what one particular organisation or sector is doing, but is more about what we can do together, e.g. observe World Disability Day. As I've witnessed through the "exercise" of working on IVD, efforts can extend across sectors, to create more of an impact and awareness raising for those who might not ordinarily be involved.

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The key though is, once we've observed these special days, how do we keep working together, e.g. eradicating HIV/AIDS, creating more inclusion, enabling all people to have full human rights. We can take small steps through continuing to engage with one another, no matter what our organisational goals might be and staying open to the possibilities. There is always hope, but that diminishes, when we need to have our own way or not have the ability to stray from what we think is the "path".

I continue to learn but only as I'm able to shed my prejudices and remain open to the perspectives/paths of others. It's a long road but worldwide observances, even if for only a short period of time, promote the idea of one human race. In the long term we must take to heart and work for full human rights for all, celebrating the spirit of hope not only on "special" days, but every day that we are alive.