Youth volunteer network is a concept that operates without the aim of making a profit by allowing the young population mostly youths to volunteer, and they are registered so that they can be matched to their compatible service-based opportunity near their community. Youth participants in this network will be connected by all the local organizations, private sectors, institutions, and non-government partners who will be posting engagement opportunities.
The youth will engage in those projects by coming up with the goal, making plans, performing marketing, creating donations advertisement, and anything else that might be needed to complete the projects. This concept is designed to be flexible and straightforward and can be accessible by any youth seeking it. It will help bring all the partners in Iraq together and help provide essential skills such as teamwork and communication, problem-solving abilities, and finally, time management to youths.
The Youth Volunteering Network in Iraq aims to create an institutional mechanism for Iraq youth in civic and social participation and increase the number of platforms used to connect youth (Bilagher, 2020). It also aims to aid in the development of youth-led initiatives by creating a multi-diverse range of entities. The UNICEF Iraq has been building solid partnerships with different stakeholders Examples are Private sectors, Unite Nations (UN) agencies, Nonprofit Organizations (NGOs), Ministries, and the Iraq Government itself. These partnerships have been created with a single aim: to generate volunteering and engagement opportunities that will benefit the youth of Iraq. The Youth Volunteering Network is an innovative tool that enables children to volunteer and register easily, and then they matched according to the critical activity they wish to engage i. lThis creates a necessity for more youth to participate in the model. Afterward, they are rewarded by learning new skills and ideas that improve their careers, not forgetting exposure to further opportunities. The vision of the UNICEF Iraq is by "2024" almost all youth in Iraq are well protected and can have access to basic needs.
UNICEF has partnered with NGOs and the government stakeholders to engage trained youth in Iraq and find their opinions on factors affecting them. The organization was founded in n 1984, although it was in the late 1980s that they set up an office in Iraq. It was mainly created to provide humanitarian aid and relief to vulnerable families through implementations made as the first Gulf war began.
UNICEF focuses on views of the youth of Iraq as a fundamental. Part of the countries growth. The organization seeker to help youth deal with factors affecting their lives, through the integration of programs such as the Adolescent Development Program(ADP), the youth volunteering initiative, and more in trying to develop a culture and a future for Iraq youth (Nursey,2020).
The background of youth volunteering dates back before programs by UNICEF and other non-governmental agencies. Iraq had been a country ravaged and was slowly recovering from war. Youth volunteering was influenced by a nurse who was clearing Mosul's streets of dead bodies that had been left in the city. Her actions got her in trouble with ISIS, as it was viewed as a retaliation strategy. However, this sparked a volunteering movement by the youth in Mosul and later in other areas of Iraq.
Through the help of NGOs and the government, UNICEF Iraq rolled out different programs and areas where the youth can volunteer. Areas such as humanitarian relief, development, construction, education, among others, have been used by Iraq youth. These youth engagement programs have been well received by the general child in Iraq who want to serve their citizens and the government. The movement looks good and reliable from an outside perspective because youth campaigns like saving river Tigres have significantly impacted and provided knowledge to people in those areas about the importance of preserving the river.
The main aim of this movement is to address idleness in the youth and keep them engaged through different activities. The program also wants to eliminate enabling environments, exposure to conflict areas and war, improve social and mental wellbeing, and provide youths with the necessary skills to make their lives and country better.
The Youth Volunteering Network's working principles are to register and assign youth to their preferred engagement activities that are near them. The partners of UNICEF Iraq, such as the institution, companies, or even non-government, may post different volunteering and engagement opportunities available from the platform for the Iraq youth to participate. The platform is adaptive and flexible so that it can accommodate all the participating youth interests and needs. UNICEF Iraq has created a pool where all the partners in Iraq organizations such as the civil society, UN agencies, private sectors. The Iraq government has come together to help the most vulnerable youth by creating a systematic platform that provides engagement and volunteering opportunities( Mati, 2016).
The Iraq youth will have to register themselves to the platform; after that, they will be able to access various engagement and volunteering opportunities based on their profile information in different sectors across Iraq. They youth will also be able to receive feedback through the platform concerning their performance, and also they can provide comments as feedback based on their experience. Participating use will be able to earn points based on the hours of participation. Finally, they may be able to access a reward-based system through an engagement incentive, access to different learning pathways, and development. Through this initiative, youth are encouraged to maintain engagement in volunteering opportunities.
The youth begin to accumulate points as soon as they create and register a profile to the platform. More points are generated each time an individual child takes an engagement assignment and accomplishes it, then their group leader confirms the appointment and sends and personalized feedback. Youth are also expected to provide experiences during engagement assignment programs that may monitor the quality of the knowledge that is being offered. Because participating youth have different needs, the incentives can match the different types of requirements to different participating teens (Davies 2019).
The partners' offers could vary in different ranges, which may include employability’s suggestions such as getting an internship, professional tanning, mentorships, or even e-courses. Others may include: getting a movie pass, getting board games, provision of phone credits, and many more. The UNICEF Iraq targets both females and males in Iraq who are aged between 15 and 24 while considering factors such as most vulnerable, those with high chances of being left behind, refugees, those facing poverty, those who have disabilities.
New partners who wish to contribute to the engagement opportunities are required to register themselves to the portal. Before the newly joined organization can be part of the partners, they are first assessed and vetted for the basic requirements of their legal status and their practices that satisfy the child protection policies of the UNICEF Iraq. Once approved, they can now be able to provide the engagement opportunities to the Iraq youths by posting them in the portal.
Such partners in Iraq may include local communities (civil societies), Iraq government organizations, non-govern organizations, social enterprise organizations, and private sector organizations. Through the youth network or Youth labs, they are encouraged to develop their innovative initiative, which is supported and funded. UNICEF Iraq, together with the government of Iraq supported by partners are developing a consolidation of the concept of community services and individual volunteering by setting rules that define the duties of all the participating parties active in the volunteering, mainly volunteers. This activates the role of youth and promotes the culture of volunteerism in Iraq (Kim, 2017)
The expected result from the establishment of this movement, as indicated in the general sim, is to create a lot of spaces to accommodate youth in Iraqi through volunteering across the country. This would be achieved through community development, education, and other programs. The creation of highly skilled children through innovation and sensitization training and campaigns will help them learn due to their volunteering to help them in life. We expect to foster togetherness and cooperation through working together in different parts of the country, embracing diversity.
In conclusion, establishing a youth volunteering movement has proven to yield significant changes in the long and short run. These changes impacted have seen both youths and the country in general move in a new and better direction morally, economically, and internationally.
Bilagher, M. (2020). The potential of Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) for conflict-ridden countries and regions: Lessons learned from experience in Iraq. International Review of Education, 66(1), 93-113. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11159-020-09826-1
Davies, B. (2019). Youth Volunteering—the New Panacea. In Austerity, Youth Policy and the Deconstruction of the Youth Service in England (pp. 217-235). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-03886-1_12
Kim, J. (2017). Long-term consequences of youth volunteering: Voluntary versus involuntary service. Social Science Research, 67, 160-175. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X16304653
Mati, J. (2016). Social movements and activist-protest volunteering. In The Palgrave handbook of volunteering, civic participation, and nonprofit associations (pp. 516-538). Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-137-26317-9_25
Nursey-Bray(2020). Building a Culture for Encouraging Regional Youth into Volunteering. https://legatus.sa.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Final-Report-Youth-Volunteering-20-April-2020.pdf
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