Helping Communities Through Youth Power

UNICEF Volunteer Programme – Creating Leaders to Make a Change

Chotirot Suksangvoravong
An I Am UNICEF volunteer is teaching children how to wash their hands properly.
UNICEF Thailand
30 April 2021

“I want to inspire the children in my community,” said Thomas Wattana Sookbida about his intention to contribute to community development through the UNICEF volunteer leader programme. 

Thomas recognized the lack of resources and tools available for coping with the unprecedented impact and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic in his hometown in Na Chum Saeng Subdistrict in Khon Kaen Province. He decided to ask about the needs of the people in the community and found that the kinds of things that could help provide relief, especially for children, are stationery supplies such as colouring books, pencils, erasers and pens; hygiene products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap; and exercise equipment such as jumping ropes. Equipped with these items, children can safely engage in learning activities at home in the case of lockdowns.

“Although these supplies may not be high in price, the activities we do with children are high in sentimental value for the community,” said Thomas. He started by designing the community development project, which involved requesting the supplies of the items, sharing a call for volunteers, contacting the community leaders to deliver the supplies and organizing an activity to demonstrate proper handwashing to people in the community. Observing that villages within the subdistrict are not very far from each other, he also coordinated with the village townhalls to use their broadcasting towers to announce upcoming activities to other villagers. Overall, Thomas’ programme reached 663 children from 850 households in 12 villages within the Na Chum Saeng Subdistrict.

I Am UNICEF volunteer (left) and two UNICEF I Am UNICEF staff (middle and right).
Sinthana Kosolpradit

“The UNICEF volunteer leader programme enabled me to prepare myself as a leader to make plans carefully and systematically,” said Thomas. He was trained in project management, coordination and time management. More importantly, he learned that the main consideration when designing a project to ensure the greatest benefit for the community is to match it with the needs of the people. He encourages the second cohort of the UNICEF volunteer leader programme to devote their time, effort and brain power to the fullest for the children of their communities.

A group photo of I Am UNICEF volunteers in cyan blue t-shirt.
UNICEF Thailand/2020/Nipattra Wilkes

“With their commitment and diverse backgrounds, Volunteer Leaders help mobilize our programmes to scale the reach to the far corners of Thailand and take our work down to the community, while maximizing personnel investment and resources,” said Nipattra Wilkes, Communication Officer (Volunteer Engagement). The UNICEF volunteer leader programme is currently in its second year. The young leaders who were recruited and selected in 2021 are ready to improve themselves and develop their potential to the fullest with the support of the programme. This way, they will become a driving force to make a change through their own projects within their communities and provinces.