"Estonia can only be what we make of it ourselves. It can only be the sum of our dreams and our acts. It is always possible to allow someone else to decide for us and then criticise their decisions or vice versa: we will do things ourselves and decide how to make the life of our communities or someone else better; how is it best to help those in need without getting having any selfish interests in the outcome ourselves," said the President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, in Vihula Manor today at an event that focused on the recognition of volunteers.
He stated that everyone gains from the efforts of volunteers; the efforts are beneficial for specific people and Estonia in general, which becomes a much better and more open place; he reminded those present that voluntary activities have always been important for Estonian people – even our period of "awakening" was a huge civic initiative that resulted in the foundation of the Republic of Estonia.
"I am pleased to see that this very faith in doing things ourselves has not been lost; instead, it has grown bigger and bigger in recent years and adopted a place of progressive importance in Estonian life," said the Head of State.
He has no doubt that people related to the third sector are much more tolerant and caring themselves.
"In fact, we cannot help others if we are looking for conflict, as this is how we sow the seed of evil and create a divide between people, making many even unhappier and society in general meaner and more evil. Evil, however, is a bad guide," emphasised President Ilves.
"Voluntary activities do not represent self-interest ot something someone profits from. You know that. The gratitude of other people and your good inner feeling represent a natural reward for your contribution. Even if it is sometimes tough and you might feel that others should carry on instead, your heart will not allow you to abandon your third sector efforts. Thank you for that – and also a big thank you to your next of kin who offer their support to you on a daily basis," said the Head of State at the event dedicated to the recognition of volunteers.
Yesterday, on the international day of volunteers, Estonia acknowledged its volunteers and their participants and supporters for the eleventh time; the event is organised by Eesti Külaliikumine Kodukant (Estonian Village Movement Kodukant). This year, 148 nominees were suggested; the evaluation committee chose 17:
Triin Noorkõiv – volunteer in the Tagasi Kooli (Back to School) project;
Alari Rammo – volunteer in various non-profit organisations and initiatives (e.g. NGO Kinoteater/ Movie Theatre, NGO Mondo, Arvamusfestival (the Festival of Opinion Culture), Sõbralik Eesti (Friendly Estonia and more);
Ants Rummel – NGO Avinurme Pritsimeeste Selts (Avinurme Association of Voluntary Fire Fighters), Avinurme Brass Orchestra, Alutaguse District of the Defence League;
Salme Siimisker – Pärnu Health Club;
Inga Kuus – NGO Eesti Naabrivalve (Estonian Neighbourhood Watch);
Eve-Kaia Tamm – volunteer in Lääne-Virumaa Vähihaigete Ühendus (Association of Lääne-Virumaa Cancer Patients) and Lääne-Viru Pensionäride Liit (Lääne-Viru Union of Pensioners);
Evelin Smirnov – volunteer in Tartu Anne Youth Centre and Lille House;
Janek Lass – Council of Leie Basic School, NGO Vaibla Külaselts (Vaibla Village Society), NGO Eesti Kartul (Estonian Potato), Sports Club Leie;
Jaan Kelder - SA Tartu Ülikooli Kliinikumi Lastefond (Children's Foundation of Tartu University Hospital);
Maria Derlõs – initiator of NGO Lasnaidee;
Voluntary searchers for lost people Operatiivne Otsingugrupp (Active Search Group);
Tarmo Tüür – initiator of Teeme Ära (Let's Do it), member of the management board of Eestimaa Looduse Fond (Estonian Fund for Nature);
Estonian National Youth Council;
Law Office Cobalt;
Swedbank as a strategic partner of the Tagasi Kooli (Back to School) initiative.
Office of the President
Public Relations Department
Ilves: voluntary initiatives are becoming more and more influential in Estonian life