2.8 Raising awareness about youth volunteering opportunities
There is still very little information in BiH on volunteering possibilities from local to national level.
The volunteering laws in FBiH and RS define that local, cantonal and entity level governments are responsible to support and stimulate voluntary activities, so both laws have award for volunteering and promotion of volunteering. Those awards are granted to organisations and individuals at annual events organised by relevant Ministries and some local authorities, usually on December 5th – International Volunteer Day.
Through the development of the local volunteer services and of the network “Volontiram!” qualitative and quantitative information on volunteering opportunities has been increased at least in the communities where these structures operate. Through these structures, citizens interested to volunteer, can obtain information on where, how and when they can volunteer in their local communities. At this point, around 5,000 citizens are recorded in databases of local volunteer services as willing to volunteer. In their work, local volunteer services are continuously confronted with lack of volunteering possibilities, meaning that there are more volunteers than placements available.
At large number of communities that do not have local volunteer services, the awareness about volunteering opportunities is mainly raised by individual CSOs and youth NGOs in the framework of their recruitment campaigns. These campaigns are mostly promoted through Internet presentations. However, there are some positive examples of when these campaigns were widely promoted through various national and local media (written and electronic).
Regarding the promotion of volunteering and its coverage in the media, volunteering is not considered as an interesting topic to cover. From time to time, media follows up on some of the volunteering programmes. This is not done on a regular basis, and it is more sporadic and ad hoc. Furthermore, there is a general lack of information and knowledge resources available on the Internet in local language, especially in relation to volunteer management system, legislation, and research.
One of the biggest voluntary awareness campaign was: “The Challenge: Choose the Cause, Be the Effect” - a campaign that encourages people of BiH, especially its youth, to spread the culture of solidarity, caring and to engage in community service projects by donating their time/resources/knowledge to the benefit of their communities by doing special projects which range from environmental clean-up, helping vulnerable population, mentoring, reading, providing free cultural and artistic performances, or just giving a helping hand in making a community better. Celebrating 20 years of peace in BiH, the US Embassy in BiH gathered 20,000 volunteers engaged in community service from January 19 to November 21, 2015. The US Embassy acknowledged all groups and hold a midterm and a final party to acknowledge the distinguished volunteers, NVO/informal group/schools and/or organizations. Information about the challenge were posted on the wall of “Izazov” Facebook group, while summary information was posted on the US Embassy Facebook and webpage.