National Volunteer Week 2021
Illuminating the Efforts of Winrock’s Global Volunteers
James Mitchell, Program Manager
April 18th to the 24th is National Volunteer Week in the United States which gives us all a chance to stop, reflect, and shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve. As North America awakens to spring and the sense of a renewed optimism, what better time to take a moment and recognize the volunteers who share their time, talent, and treasure to build a more connected global community.
Over a year ago now, the world entered into a profoundly challenging, unforeseen, and tumultuous moment in time. The rise and eventual spread of COVID-19 across the globe profoundly impacted every nation, industry, and way of living. Many people have referred to 2020 as a “dark” or “lost” year. We cannot deny the immense struggle or burden felt by people from every walk of life. And yet, that truth only makes the efforts of Winrock’s volunteers during the past year that much more remarkable.
As airports around the world shut their doors, American volunteers did something amazing- they adapted and continued to support international communities. At Winrock International, technical expert volunteers, primarily through the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program, raised their hands and offered their effort to find a new way to help those in need. Through the use of real-time video-conferencing technology and partnerships with local experts, American volunteers put proof to the quote that “all failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” Demonstrating a remarkable resilience and creativity in the face of difficulty, Winrock volunteers successfully blazed new pathways to connect and collaborate, directly improving the lives of thousands of individuals in rural communities across the world.
One such beneficiary, Mr. Karamo Fofana, a member of a community development group in Guinea, West Africa, noted that: Today, I am 1,000 kilometers from the capital where the Winrock training is being held, the American trainer is in the United States, his Guinean counterpart is in a room with a group in the capital, there are others are all over Guinea joining, learning, and participating; We work as if we were all together in the same room. Really, this is a first and an innovation for us. To this end, we are very grateful to Winrock Farmer-to-Farmer and the U.S. Government, which is sparing no effort to accompany us during this period of COVID19. Thanks to new technologies, we can be everywhere and work together”.
This week, we take a moment to stop and say thank you to the volunteers who brighten the world. Despite the personal and professional setbacks, we all faced over the past year, so many have lifted their light and showed us that all challenge is really just a hidden opportunity.
Here are some of our volunteers in action over the past year. If you feel a calling to serve in a similar capacity, there are many opportunities listed at www.winrock.org/volunteer.