The power of volunteers for development, from Seoul to Kathmandu


On the heels of the U.N.’s adoption in late September of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, an Asia Pacific volunteering alliance recently convened a forum for hundreds of youth and development partners from northeast Asia at the Korea Council on Foreign Relations in Seoul.

In his keynote address highlighting the role of volunteers in global development, Young-Mok Kim, president of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), stressed the key role of Peace Corps volunteers and the Saemaul Undong village self-help model in Korea’s 50-year rise from a low-income to a high-income nation.

Since 1970, Korea’s Saemaul Undong (“New Community Movement”) has tested a combination of local self-help cooperative action with national development policy addressing poverty, relying on the spirit of rural communities. Local volunteering teams engaging youth and women have been tapped to guide and implement grassroots development projects and counter rural over-migration to urban areas, engaging in housing, local infrastructure and irrigation, credit unions, and cooperative businesses, among other holistic areas while enhancing an overall community spirit of ownership.

“As the first country to escape poverty and achieve economic and social development as well as democratization, the SDGs present us with an opportunity to expand our footprint and visibility in the development arena and live up to international expectations. In Korea, thanks to Saemaul Undong, the poverty rate was reduced from 34.6 percent to 6 percent and rural households’ income reached parity with that of urban households during the period from 1967 to 1984.” The Saemaul Undong model has been adapted in African and other developing nations and was featured in a special high-level forum on rural development during the recent U.N. General Assembly.

Kim stated: “It is important that we facilitate participatory engagement by harnessing the power of volunteerism to meet the key principle of the SDGs” and he indicated that the World Friends Korea (WFK) volunteer program learned from the nation’s experience with the Peace Corps. WFK has sent more than 50,000 volunteers abroad in service projects and to provide technical training. Kim noted KOICA ranks second in the world with regard to the number of volunteers sent to developing countries, sending 4,500 annually to 50 countries.

KOICA was a founding participant in the Asia Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance (APPDSA) that was launched at the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) headquarters in Bangkok in October 2014 with the support of FK Norway, the Global Peace Foundation, KOICA, the Peace Corps and other partners. Kim hailed the effort “to form an alliance of upgrading our volunteer program and fostering the force of young people who can play crucial roles in the development cooperation arena.”

The multi-stakeholder platform forged in Southeast Asia is now engaging thousands of volunteers in climate-related projects, including massive river clean-up campaigns in Thailand and Nepal and ongoing “green Asia” tree-planting and eco-camps working to address desertification in Mongolia.   

After the Seoul convening, which launched the Northeast Asia volunteering initiative, I travelled to Kathmandu to assess the progress of the South Asia APPDSA Alliance hub for volunteerism. Convened in Nepal just prior to the April earthquake that took more than 9,000 lives, the Alliance’s South Asia convening provided a ready base of volunteers to implement the Kathmandu Call to Action after the disaster struck and served as a springboard for Rise Nepal, a youth-led relief and rebuilding initiative. To date, more than 1,600 young Nepali volunteers have helped nearly 3,000 households with emergency provisions, including food, and medical and hygiene supplies, and have constructed around 600 transitional homes.    

IBM stepped in to provide IT support, equipping youths with software and other technology to facilitate their efforts to rebuild their nation beyond short-term earthquake relief. Since the recent adoption of Nepal’s new constitution, this support is being broadened to include young leadership training in citizenship and service addressing longer-term goals, including SDGs across the South Asia region.

A recent Gallup article noted the power of the more than 1 billion people around the world who engage in volunteer service and the need to marshal their efforts to help countries meet their SDG targets by 2030. Since the Seoul forum, efforts are underway across the Asia-Pacific region to step-up specific volunteerism initiatives, provide technology that will further empower young volunteers, and document the results of ongoing environmental service projects such as the restoration of the Bagmati River in Nepal and counterpart efforts in Bangkok, Mongolia, and the Philippines.  

The growth of such multi-stakeholder volunteering alliances, coupled with KOICA’s experience in forging volunteerism-based community outcomes measurably addressing poverty, hold great promise in marshaling requisite human capital and innovation to help achieve the next generation development goals.



Global Peace Foundation Nepal is Awarded by Prime Minister for Continuous Environmental Work



Some five hundred Nepalese gathered in Kathmandu as the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers awarded the Global Peace Foundation (GPF)-Nepal on August 6, 2015 for its continuous efforts in rehabilitating Nepal’s main waterway, the Bagmati River, through the Bagmati River Clean-up Mega Campaign.

The Chief Secretary of Government of Nepal, Mr. Leela Mani Paudyal, presented a certificate of appreciation to Ram Rohan Panta, President of GPF-Nepal, as well as other representatives of organizations that are spearheading the campaign, a joint initiative of the government, private sector, communities and NGOs established on May 18, 2013.

Chief Secretary Paudyal congratulated everyone and stressed that through their joint efforts, the Bagmati River could be restored and preserved for future generations.  

Global Peace Foundation-Nepal has been organizing massive cleanings of the Bagmati River as well as waste management and public awareness programs since 2010 to tackle the river’s growing pollution problem through the River of Peace Campaign, a network of innovative and responsible individuals, families, clubs, societies and organizations committed to restoring in-city rivers through taking ownership and action.


The Bagmati River is the largest waterway in Kathmandu Valley, comprised of 57 tributaries and rivulets running through the country’s capital, Kathmandu. The river is still seen as sacred, and Nepalese continue to bathe in its waters and cremate along its banks.

The Bagmati today is incredibly polluted, facing a number of serious environmental and ecological challenges. Hardly any aquatic life remains as sewers are dumping municipal and hospital waste directly into the water. Some other key contributors to the pollution are increasing population, direct disposal of untreated sewage into the river, uncontrolled sand mining, improper solid waste disposal, rapid construction of industries and uncontrolled squatter settlements (Friends of Bagmati).

Volunteers line up on the Bagmati River bank

As of now, GPF-Nepal has mobilized a network of more than 20,000 volunteers for the cleaning campaign. The campaign is not only aimed at restoring the river but raising young leaders to be aware of the critical need to maintain a clean environment and take up a culture of service and ownership over the river. 

GPF-Nepal volunteers have committed to regular cleanups at a 1 kilometer section of the Bagmati River and its banks, from Guheshowari to Pasupati Barmanal. Several other organizations taking part in the Bagmati River Clean Mega Campaign have also dedicated to regular clean-ups of specific upstream sections of the River.

GPF-Nepal believes a multi-faceted approach is necessary to create a sustainable solution; thus it provides a platform for experts, scientists, academics, dedicated citizens and organizations to discuss, plan and organize activities to revive the river. The Global Peace Foundation and its many partners will continue to spread awareness and support the restoration of this essential water source.

Call for Volunteers Advancing UN SDGs

Lex Rieffel | September 30, 2015 9:30am


Last week, world leaders agreed on an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Fully costed, the price tag for achieving these goals over the next 15 years will run into the trillions of dollar, however. The implication is that everyone in the world will have to contribute in one way or another—private businesses as well public sector agencies.

Volunteers seem to be the least recognized group of contributors, despite being the least-expensive component. They often play a crucial role in “the last mile” of program implementation. Volunteer service in support of the SDGs also enriches the lives of volunteers and helps to building the sense of global citizenship that is essential for global peace and well-being.

For the individuals involved, the core benefit of volunteer action comes from working outside of your culture. Making sandwiches for your children is not volunteer action. Making sandwiches at a shelter for the homeless is.

This concept of volunteer action, or service, was probably absent in primitive tribal communities and in early civilizations—such as Egypt—where slavery was embedded in the culture. It was certainly present, however, in the great religions that subsequently emerged and evolved, including Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is implicit in the messages that Pope Francis brought to the United States and the United Nations earlier this month.

Volunteer action took a great leap forward when President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 for international service and President Lyndon B. Johnson created VISTA in 1965 for domestic service. The evolution since then has been interesting.

The Peace Corps grew quickly to almost 16,000 volunteers in the field in the mid-1960s, dropped to as low as 4,000 in the 1970s, and grew back slowly to around 8,000 in the early 1990s. It has been stuck at this level since then, despite campaign promises by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama to double the number of serving volunteers.

Meanwhile, a bubbling universe of international volunteer programs emerged in the United States. University-sponsored, corporation-sponsored, NGO-sponsored, and for-profit programs are sending more than 50,000 Americans to foreign countries for short-term and long-term service every year. Inspired by the Peace Corps, other advanced countries also created their own international volunteer programs.

The evolution of government-supported volunteer programs domestically was quite different. In 1993, President Clinton established the Corporation for National and Community Service to manage a new AmeriCorps program along with VISTA and several other small pre-existing programs. AmeriCorps has grown rapidly to the point of having 75,000 volunteers today engaged in full-time, one-year service commitments. Officials from other countries—both advanced and developing—have also been coming here for 20 years to see how AmeriCorps works, before then starting similar domestic service programs in their countries.

Two forces are driving the volunteer movement globally. The first is budget constraints everywhere. In our modern societies, everybody wants to enjoy a good life, but we haven’t figured out how to get enough tax revenue to pay the teachers, health workers, engineers, and community organizers needed to achieve this happy outcome. We have, however, figured out how to mobilize volunteers to provide these services to the neediest.

The second force is an abstract concept combining civic duty and helping the less fortunate. As modern societies have become wealthier, this concept has become more powerful.

Two manifestations of these forces are especially relevant now.

The first is the role of volunteers that has been incorporated in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Implementation is receiving more attention in the SDG process than it received in the preceding Millennium Development Goal process. The U.N has recognized that mobilizing volunteers effectively will be necessary to achieve every one of the SDGs. No government has a budget big enough to pay a living wage for all the hours of work that will be required to meet its own SDGs.

The other manifestation is a new debate in the United States about “national service.” Since the military draft was terminated in 1973, concern has slowly grown about having a military force that does not reflect the broad population. It is possible that the sense of national unity felt so strongly after World War II was related to the experience of so many men and women performing national service outside their culture. That kind of service was a social and civic glue that seems in short supply now.

The Aspen Institute’s “Franklin Project” aims to create a one-year national service commitment—either civilian or military—that becomes a valued part of growing up in America. It can help cure the divisiveness by taking us outside our culture and helping us appreciate others. It can be a better kind of glue.

Volunteer action across borders can also be a better kind of glue for the whole world. 




Help Build 500 Shelters in Nepal

The “Shelter of Hope” Campaign, initiated by ‪#‎RiseNepal‬, a youth driven volunteer effort supported by the Global Peace Foundation and the Asian Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance, has a goal to build 1,000 temporary shelters for these families. We’ve built 500, but need your help to build the remaining 500.

$125 covers the cost of materials for a shelter that can last a few years and then can be used for future building projects.

Donate today at:…/help-provide-1000-shelters-di…

Meet Roshani

Roshani and her family modify and prepare the shelter that could be their home for few years until they can build a permanent one.
Roshani and her family modify and prepare the shelter that could be their home for few years until they can build a permanent one.

Roshani Sarki lives with her mother and sister in Lamatar. Their home was destroyed by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25. They were living in a cold, leaky tent until the “Shelter of Hope” Campaign built them a temporary shelter.

Roshani’s mother told #RiseNepal,
” With our economic condition, we don’t know when we will be able to build a house. The transitional shelter you have provided will be our refuge for a few years. This will be a safer and comfortable place for my kids. They have a better place to study at night. We are really grateful to the volunteers and donors who helped us. “

Roshani’s family is just 1 of 500 who have benefited from the “Shelter of Hope” Campaign.

Casualties from Nepal’s three-month long rainy season have already been reported at the end of July. Despite recovery efforts focused on providing shelter for the hundreds of thousands of displaced, thousands still remain homeless.



Virginia Benefit Concern Supports Rise Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts

A special benefit program and silent auction was held for victims of the Nepal earthquake on June 14 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Many local artists and businesses came together to show solidarity and pray for healing for the people of Nepal. The benefit featured Nepali music, arts and food, as well as local Virginia performers committed to support ongoing #RiseNepal relief efforts in the Himalayan nation.      


Contributions for Nepal relief efforts can also be made here.

This event was captured by journalist, David Angelo Caprara. 

Shelter of Hope

Roshani Bogati Sarki, a class 9 student of Shree Shringery Community School, Lamatar, lives with her mom, Ganga and Rami her younger sister in a makeshift tent after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake made their house inhabitable. “The makeshift tent made out of tarpaulins temporarily shelters us but we don’t know how long it will stay as it already starts to rain. Insects and even a snake go inside our tent, so it is not really safe staying in there,” shared Roshani. “With Rise Nepal’s help, we got the transitional shelter built for us and now we don’t need to worry about the rain and the snakes. Thank you very much to Rise Nepal and the donors for helping us, it is a really big help for us,” she added.

Roshani (right) with her family lives in this makeshift tent after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal.
Roshani (right) with her family lives in this makeshift tent after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal.

Roshani’s mother, Ganga, who’s a farm labourer earning $3 a day also shared, “With our economic condition, we don’t even know when we will be able to build a house. The transitional shelter that you have provided us will be our refuge for one or maybe for few years. This will be a safer and comfortable place for my family especially for my kids as they will have a better place to study at night. We are really grateful to the volunteers and donors who helped us.”

Rise Nepal’s Volunteers helped Roshani’s family built the transitional shelter.
Rise Nepal’s Volunteers helped Roshani’s family built the transitional shelter.

Roshani’s family, belong to the lowest caste in Nepal, is just one of the beneficiaries of Rise Nepal’s Shelter of Hope. If you want to help people like Roshani to be sheltered safely especially during the monsoon season please join our cause and make a difference.

Roshani and her family modify and prepare the shelter that could be their home for few years until they can build a permanent one.
Roshani and her family modify and prepare the shelter that could be their home for few years until they can build a permanent one.



Global Peace Volunteers Academy


Come join us at Global Peace Foundation Nepal.

We are organizing a three day volunteer camp infused with disaster leadership training, team building exercises, transitional shelter construction and interaction with the school children of earthquake stricken areas.

Come be a part of this wonderful opportunity to learn through action. Rise Nepal with Global Peace Youth and WeMobilise is bringing the experience of Sam Johnson and Student Volunteer Army for you to learn.

Date: 13th June to 15th June
Time: 10 am
Venue: GPF Hall

You can confirm your presence by calling one of the numbers.
9841242892, 01-4245507

Send us a message with your details in our facebook page

Project Udaya Awas (Shelter of Hope)


A strong (7.8 magnitudes) earthquake hit Nepal in the area Barpak, a mountain village between capital Kathmandu and tourist town Pokhara on Saturday, April 25. The earthquake was followed by many powerful aftershocks and a new earthquake (6.7 magnitudes) on Sunday April 26.

The earthquakes caused extensive damage to buildings and thousands of death and injuries. Many historic buildings collapsed, temples ruined, roads destroyed. The death toll from the April 25 devastating earthquake that was followed by several aftershocks including the powerful earthquake (7.3 magnitudes) one on May 12 has reached 8,567 as of Sunday morning, according to the latest updates made available by the Ministry of Home affairs. Sindhupalchowk is the worst-hit zone in view of human casualties with a record of 3,423 deaths so far. Similarly, 1,214 have been killed in Kathmandu, 1,045 in Nuwakot, 728 in Dhading, 579 in Rasuwa, 414 in Gorkha, 326 in Bhaktapur, 318 in Kavre, 181 in Lalitpur and 154 in Dolakha.

Likewise, the number of the injured has passed 22,000. A total of 488,788 houses of general people were completely destroyed and 267,282 houses were partially damaged by the earthquake.

The worst hit regions after Kathmandu Valley include Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, Dolakha, Dhading, Gorkha, among other districts where hundreds lost their lives in the tremor.

In Kathmandu, old settlement areas such as Basantapur, Thamel, Nardevi, and Jhochhen have suffered major damages. Historical monuments such as Dharahara, Basantapur Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square have also been completely destroyed.


Rise Nepal- is a youth led group working together for the Relief of Earthquake 2072. Coordinated by Global Peace Foundation Nepal(GPF) & Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance(APPDSA). It is a youth led group who will be working together for the Relief and make our Nepal Rise and Shine again.

The first phase of rise Nepal focused on short term basic needs where we distributed relief materials including food, clothes, medicine, treatment, tents, sanitation etc in the places like Sindupalchowk (Batase, Talamarang, Bharabise, Dhakalthok ) ,Nuwakot (Budashing VDC 2,3,4,5) ,Gorkha (Dhowa Balimatar, Ward no.6.),Dhading(Dhuwakot,salyantar), Lalitpur (Gotikhel, Harrisidhi, Bungamati) Bhaktapur (Dattatreya, Suryamadi, Suryabinayak, Kamalbinayak) Kathmandu valley (Purano Naikap, Mukhiya Gaun, Sankhu,). And now, we are heading towards our second phase which focuses on building semi permanent houses in destructed areas. Our project is meant for providing home to homeless people until their permanent houses are constructed. Moreover, optimum uses of local resources are prioritized. We have recently started our second phase by constructing semi permanent houses in Kavresthali by using local resources.

Program description:

We are planning to build semi-permanent houses in destructed area to homeless people until their permanent houses are constructed. And as rainy season is near so we are planning for a sustainable house which can be durable during rainy season. Shelter that we are trying to prepare will contain the area of 11.4 sq.m and length and breadth 3.65 m and 3.17 m respectively. Such shelter can be prepared in one hour. The cost of one house is approx 120 USD and we are planning to construct 1000 houses.

Materials Required Per House

Raw Materials List

Tool list

Tin-9 pieces

Tin Snips-2 pairs

Rod-8 pieces (1 m long)

Lineman Pliers-2 pairs

Steel Pipe- 4 bent pieces

Work gloves-8 pairs

Wire-4 pieces of 17.5’ wire, 4 pieces of 6’ wire

Jig wire set-long jig wire, short jig wire

Estimated Cost For Raw Materials

Nrs. 10,000

Estimated Cost for Tool Kit

Nrs. 2,000


Sample Pictures of Proposed Temporary Shelter


(Fig: Rise Nepal Volunteers in Chaaimale constructing a Temporary Shelter)




Primary Objective:

  • To construct semi-permanent houses. This can be useful for at least 5-6 months and protect from rainy season.

Secondary Objectives:

  • Materials used for semi-permanent house can be used for permanent houses. So the materials can be beneficial for long term use.
  • We will also be constructing semi permanent house with help of local people. So their skills also can be developed.



Co-ordinates: 27.588 N, 85.265 E

Map Link:



Address: Chandragiri Municipality, Ward No: 4, Gothdanda, Kathmandu, Nepal

Co-ordinates: 27.709 N, 85.212 E

Map Link:

Virginia Reaches Out!



Join us on June 14, 4:00 to 7:00 pm (Sunday) for the benefit of RISE NEPAL at the Old Silk Mill, 1701 Princess Anne Street Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401. Featuring acclaimed entertainment from Cabin Creek, Save the Arcadian, Pete Mealy and Laurie Rose Griffith.

For reservation you may email: