Celebrating UNICEF Volunteers - Hear their inspiring stories

December 5th marks the International Volunteer Day. UNICEF recognizes the value of volunteerism and appreciates the selfless contributions of volunteers around the globe

07 December 2021

One way to celebrate International Volunteer Day is by sharing stories from UNICEF volunteers in the field and learning about their exciting journeys. Thousands of UNICEF volunteers in every continent of the world are carrying out the organization's mandate by implementing the actions for significant social, environmental, and economic development. They are inspiring a younger generation through their diligent work and delivering a crucial message to all, “Volunteer now for our common future”.


Volunteers are such an important part of UNICEF’s workforce. They serve to contribute positive changes in the lives of children and their communities. At the frontlines of the COVID-19 response or not, the impact of volunteers is immeasurable.

Sajid Ali, Associate Director, UNICEF Division of Human Resources

While sharing their challenging and rewarding moments, UN Volunteers (UNV) echo the message that we all take part in contributing to our communities. They are overcoming tremendous challenges to explore innovative and effective ways during the global pandemic to deliver the most needed services and care to meet the needs of millions of children. They are the unsung heroes who bring hope and inspiration by being a model to the children and communities in many parts of the world. 

On International Volunteer Day, it is time for us to shine a light on the volunteers and applaud their outstanding achievements. Today, we share Jamie Lourds Donato’s experience as a UNV Reimagine Education Officer at UNICEF Philippines.

Every volunteering journey is different. We all have our reasons for choosing this path at different seasons in our lives or careers. But at the end of the day, no matter what drives you to commit to serving, I would like to think that when you volunteer, you contribute to building a world where the most vulnerable are heard and paid attention to. 

As I pursued my professional career and academic goals, I have become painfully aware that not all children are provided with opportunities to build the necessary foundations in learning. Research and practice continue to show that inequality exists early on, especially in education. My decision to volunteer in UNICEF is rooted in these realizations, along with the desire to reach more children and spark more meaningful change on a bigger scale.

Portrait of Jaime smiling
Jamie Lourds Donato

In my current role as Reimagine Education Officer, I am responsible for engaging in different initiatives that focus on digital learning. I provide support and initiate efforts that capitalize on technology in building the foundations of literacy and numeracy for all children, including children with disabilities.

The role truly resonates with my belief in giving children all the best opportunities now to survive, thrive, and fulfill their potential so that they may become productive members of their communities in the future. Through this volunteer journey, I have learned first-hand how the work for children is always collaborative and goes beyond what you think is best. Volunteering is about listening and putting value to voices other than your own, about starting difficult conversations to be able to move forward, and about moving with urgency in every step of the process because help is always needed by many. Some results are visible and immediate, while some programmes may take time before being considered successful, but no effort is ever wasted. 

For those who are already volunteers or are thinking of pursuing volunteering full time, I encourage you to go beyond the "high” that volunteering gives you. Pursue further studies, become more intentional about the things you read and watch, and establish your own principles and beliefs on what an equitable world looks like. Acknowledge that you are coming from a position of privilege and responsibility where you can step back and listen to the voices of those left behind. Include beneficiaries in decision-making processes to help them live in a world that sees them and allows them to thrive. It takes a certain level of maturity and openness to volunteer, so I encourage you to go beyond the comforts of what you know and what you have experienced to be able to immerse yourself fully in the cause you believe in. At a time when events and realities push us away from each other, volunteer to be the force that sparks the change the world needs to heal and bring everyone together.