Who are we ?

The Institute of Research and Information on Volunteering (iriv) is a free private institution, non profit, independent of public administrations and economic interests, with the aim to enrich the public debate and inform on volunteering issues :

The Institute for Research and Information on Volunteering (iriv) was created in 1997 by Bénédicte Halba, doctor in Economics. Iriv's Team is deeply involved in achieving iriv issues ; our status reflect this involvement.

Why did we choose the Gingko Biloba as an emblem for iriv ?

The leaf

In the Far East, the trees leaves symbolise hapiness and prosperity. A bunch of leaves refers to the collectivity, united in the same action and same spirit. (see Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt, "Dictionnaire des symboles", Collection "Bouquins", Editions Robert Laffont/Jupiter, Paris, 1982). Nothing could better symbolise the volunteer.

Goethe has been celebrating the Gingko leaf in his poem, "Gingko Biloba" written in 1815, in the collection called Le divan.

Dieses Baum's Blatt, der von Osten
Meinem Garten anvertraut,
Gibt geheimen Sinn zu kosten,
Wie's dem Wissenden erbaut.

Ist es ein lebendig Wesen,
Das sich in sich selbst getrennt :
Sind es zwei , die sich erlesen,
Dass man sie als eines kennt.

Solche Fragen zu erwidern,
Fand ich wohl den rechten Sinn :
Fühlst Du nicht an meinen Liedern,
Dass ich eins und doppelt bin ?

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
This leaf from a tree in the East,
Has been given to my garden.
It reveals a certain secret,
Which pleases me and thoughtful people.

Does it represent One living creature
Which has divided itself?
Or are these Two, which have decided,
That they should be as One ?

To reply to such a Question,
I found the right answer:
Do you notice in my songs and verses
That I am One and Two?

(translation found on the website "The Gingko Pages" by Cor Kwant)

As the Gingko leaf, the volunteer is double ; he develops two aspects of her/his personality. An engineer becomes a teacher to learn French language for foreigners. A teacher becomes a clown to entertain sick children at the hospital.

The tree

The Gingko appeared on Earth 250 million years ago. As soon as the human being appeared, 3.5 million years ago, mutual aid, volunteering have been developed.

When the nuclear bomb exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Gingko Biloba was the only tree to survive. After each natural disaster, each war , men and women , volunteer towards the victims. Volunteers don't work only in case of emergency ; they bring their time, knowledge and dynamism to others for the day to day life.