Volunteerism in Norway and South Africa

There is no doubt to us that playing in a band, singing in a choir, being a scout, participating in sport activities, assisting elders brings joy, happiness and friendships into one’s life. It gives you a feeling of mastery, meaning and belonging, which are identified as important key factors to building a stronger self belief.

Monday 5th December the PULSE team was invited to perform at Frivillighet Norges (Association of NGOs in Norway) prize giving ceremony Frivillighetsprisen 2016 held at Månefisk in Oslo. Frivillighet Norge is an umbrella organization for the voluntary sector in Norway, founded in September 2005. The mission of the Association is to coordinate the voluntary sector’s dialogue with the authorities on issues that are common to the voluntary sector, and to voice the voluntary sector’s opinions to the public and the authorities. Currently the Association of NGO’s in Norway consists of more than 280 member organizations.


Performance for Frivillighetprisen

NMF has been a member of Frivillighet Norge since 2006. Head of Communication in NMF Mr Håkon Mogstad, explains that it is important to NMF to work together with other NGO’s on general matters that concerns all. Sometimes we are simply Stronger Together.

Frivillighetsprisen is an annual event and the prize is given to a resourceful person, local association or group, which has distinguished itself with voluntary effort, commitment and enthusiasm for the benefit of the individual and society. The event is a formal celebration and recognition of the great work, efforts and engagement laid down by thousands of people every day.

The voluntary sector in Norway consists of about 115 000 non-governmental and nonprofit organizations. The majority of organizations are local, have no employees and very small financial means. The main bulk of the income is from membership fees and sales, second sources of income is from local governments and the rest are from private and corporate donors. This is quite different from South Africa where the main sources of income is from the corporate companies.

In Norway volunteerism is perceived as the main beam of the society, if you take it out it is believed that the society will fall apart and that is commonly known today. According to Frivillighet Norge 48 % of the grown-up Norwegian population participates in voluntary work annually. Volunteer work are defined as services or activities carried out without the payment of wages. It is also a requirement that the service or activity is of benefit to the society, the environment, or others than close relatives or persons who may be considered as a member of their own household. In South Africa you would expect to be paid a stipend and be treated as an employee when participating in voluntary work. This is also an important aspect and challenge in the running of NGO’s project’s.

Every band in Norway  is owned by the members and managed in accordance to their own statutes and regulations. They chair their own Annual meetings, they select members to the board and committees from the member group (parents included) and are responsible for their own economy, program and development. A Norwegian school band is led and run by the parents’ of the member’s. The musical leadership are the only ones that are paid wages, all other roles are considered as volunteered and therefore not paid for. Due to this, the school band is perceived to be a family activity and an important aspect of social inclusion of marginalized groups in the Norwegian society.

Coming from south with a different approach to and understanding of volunteerism we understand that it can be challenging to acknowledge the importance of being engaged in community work and NGOs. Getting to know the bands we now see how it can benefit also parents on an individual level.

Participating at Frivillighetsprisen gave PULSE and NMF exposure to other voluntary programs in Norway, it expands our network and the knowledge about our project and activities within Norway. The MC of the evening, Jan-Ole Hesselberg, in his PULSE introduction he mentioned that PULSE is a Fredskorpset exchange programme that works with health promotion throught the banding activity. The goal is that all children should have access to the experience of mastery, well-being and belonging in a band. PULSE aim to help Norwegian bands to become even more aware of the importance of providing a safe environment for children and young people and show their parents what participation in voluntary activities can mean for the family as a whole.

At the event we met a gentlemen by the name of Richard Kiwanuka who was one of the nominees. Mr  Kiwanuka is running a project in Ghana called Bring Children From Streets and is the founder of the Norwegian program “Way Forward’’ established in Bergen. Our interest through ‘’Way Forward’’ project is that they are using sports and music to include people from  linguistic minorities. We are interested in finding out more about his project and experiences from working in Bergen. We believe this might be a new network that can be useful to PULSE in future.


photo with Mr R Kiwanuka

The prize giving ceremony was streamed live; http://www.frivillighetnorge.no/no/frivillighetsprisen/Live-stream+av+Frivillighetsprisen.b7C_wtDK3E.ips  Our performance is coming right at the end of the program.


Written By: Thulani Dupa & Masibulele Langa

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