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Australian volunteer Tam Guna (pictured right) discussing development issues with staff at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Myanmar.

5 December 2014

Happy United Nations International Volunteer Day!

Each year hundreds of Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) mobilise to developing countries in Asia, the Pacific and Africa to share their knowledge, skills, time and goodwill to help local organisations to be better equipped to achieve their goals.

This year's International Volunteer Day recognises the contributions of volunteers engaging people from the grass-roots in decision making processes, ultimately leading to stronger governance, social cohesion, peace and sustainable development.

Through the AVID program, volunteers have helped to train Mongolian journalists about how to report on air pollution, save people's livelihoods though reforestation in Indonesia, and introduce a successful cricket competition to the Solomon Islands.

Australian volunteer Thamilini (Tam) Guna is currently sharing her tourism skills and experience with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Myanmar.

Tam says she fell in love with Myanmar, its people and untouched beauty, when travelling in 2013.

"From my tourism experience, I could see the huge potential for tourism which if managed sustainably, could be a powerful tool for poverty alleviation. When this position became available with the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, I was thrilled," Tam says.

"My role involves a range of activities including teaching responsible tourism concepts and business skills, and assisting with the organisation of events and working group meetings.
"I also assist with promotional material and facilitating communication between development partners and the Ministry where needed."

Tam says her role is dynamic and constantly changing as tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country.

"Living in a city with few foreigners, I am very fortunate to be completely immersed in the culture of Myanmar. I wear the traditional longyi, eat traditional Myanmar food and am quickly learning the language," Tam says.

"I have also learnt a lot about people's spirituality and unique way of life.
"I hope to make a lasting difference here and transfer as much skills and knowledge as possible so the Ministry can develop the future of tourism and their country the way they would like it."

The AVID program is funded by the Australian Government, part of the important and long-standing aid program which helps to drive change and build enduring people-to-people links with Australia.

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