Happy International Volunteers Day!
Today, December 5th, is the International Volunteers’ Day (IVD) initiated by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme to start a dialogue about volunteerism in global communities.
Well, this seems like as good a time to talk a little about Volunteerism as any. One of the first things I wonder about when thinking of volunteerism is ‘Why?’. “Why do people volunteer?’’ Volunteerism is so much more than just working without pay; it involves people going beyond their basic obligations to do things to help their societies. So, what makes someone commit their time and effort towards something with no expectant reward?
People may have different reasons that push them to certain actions and motivate their passion for certain causes, but here are some common driving factors that could relate to every volunteer.
1. Sense of belonging
Us as human are inherently communal and tribal in our base instincts (something to do with our ancestors back in hunter-gatherer days). So we function best in units and societies and generally develop a sense of belonging to particular communities based on commonalities.
Volunteering towards causes we care about gives us the chance to serve and connect with our communities and to look beyond ourselves and our immediate circles and realize the magnitude of impact we can have on those around us. It helps us understand our role and contribution in our societies and more importantly, it helps make us aware of the existing issues and the various perspectives around them.
In everyday life, you may witness so many things that annoy and infuriate you, be it inequality, poverty, injustice or abuse, and usually once the anger subsides, most of us conclude “There is nothing I can do about’’ or “This is just the world we live in’’. But some would try and make an effort to make a change, no matter how small and if nothing else, you may at least sleep better knowing that you’ve tried to a part of the solution rather than the problem. By knowing what it is that angers us the most about the world, we can clearly pinpoint what are the issues that we personally relate with and are passionate about. Volunteering helps us channel this anger in a positive way and stop complaining and start doing instead. It gives us the space to practice what we preach and stand true to the values we proclaim to live by.
When we volunteer or participate in programs and activities are not usually parts of our lives, we get to momentarily experience life from a different perspective and try new things. We even get to meet and interact with people from different backgrounds and circles of life and those we share common interests with. All this leads to great defining moments in our lives filled with great conversations, profound questioning and a lot of soul searching. Through volunteerism, we get a chance to step back from our routine lives and take a broad look what matters to us and what it is that we are meant to do.
4. Skill Enhancement
Lastly, this is an obvious one, but volunteering helps us to not just practice and polish our existing skills by doing what we love but it also pick up a few new ones along the way. Working with diverse teams, under pressure and with limited resources can also get a lot of creative juices flowing and you may even discover a bunch of new things you’re great but never really knew.
As the theme of this year’s International Volunteers’ Day is ‘Global Applause’, we at Majra would like to thank all the volunteers in Bahrain who work tirelessly with so much commitment and passion towards various causes that help make our communities and country a much better, stronger, connected and loving place for all, “Keep inspiring”!