They also serve who volunteer and smile

Jason Topping Cone
30 June 2000
Inevitably all participants at Geneva 2000 have become lost or disoriented during the pandemonium of hundreds of panel discussions and the maze of tents that form The Village. Who have been the individuals that have brought back countless NGO forum goers from the depths of conference dementia? Non other than the blue shirted Geneva 2000 Volunteers.

Aside from Geneva 2000's volunteer signature uniform, Viola Krebs the Director of International Conference Volunteers (ICV) told The Earth Times "we don't have a typical volunteer."

There are 350 of these unique individuals working -they will put in 14,000 total hours during the conference- and they come in not only all shapes and sizes, but from 40 different countries and range in age from 16 to 79 years old according to Viola. And as Viola added, "we are intergenerational and intercultural. They are the ambassadors of the conference, ambassadors of Geneva." Their gender makeup is 65 percent female and 35 percent male.

The volunteers were assembled by Viola from a database of some 1,200 volunteers that she and ICV have compiled since the organization's inception with an 850 person strong volunteer program for the 12th World AIDS Conference held in 1998. The ICV organizes volunteers for 15 events each year that mostly are on humanitarian, social, and ecological issues according to Viola. Its main sponsors for Geneva 2000 are private, the State of Geneva and the Swiss government according to Viola. 

The majority of the volunteers come from Geneva or in nearby France. There are 50 families in Geneva that have acted as hosts for international volunteers according to Viola. The volunteers are in charge of their airfare, but as Viola notes ICV is trying to build up a scholarship fund to bring volunteers that cannot afford the airfare.

Volunteer groupies should consult the organization's website (www.icvolunteers.org) to get all the inside information as the troop prepares for the 13th World AIDS Conference.
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