Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We Grow by Giving

Volunteering sound like a new concept in our society, however, the culture of helping others is not- and these two are the same thing. So many people look at the circumstances around them and growl in despair. They fail to see that such situation is actually an opportunity for them to pour out a portion of themselves and grow by serving- giving their skills or time to ameliorate the condition.

“How do we make service learning the common experience of every young person around the world?" was the theme of the International Volunteer Day Symposium organized by Peace Corps International, to celebrate this year’s International Volunteers Day- December 5th.

The day which is set aside to celebrate volunteers all over the world for their valuable contribution towards economic and social development is also aimed at inspiring other people to imbibe the culture of volunteerism, take action and make a positive difference in their local communities.

As I sat in the hall listening to Aaron S. Williams, the Director of Peace Corps, give his opening remark, I learn how much potential is in this sector. We cannot underestimate the relevance of volunteerism in shaping the human condition for good. Not only do people who volunteer transform the pace and nature of development by contributing their time, skills and energy towards peace and development, the impact they make also have a rippling effect on them because their skills are enhanced as they grow by giving.

“Service should be as easy as going to school” asserted Williams, and I stand to agree with him. There should be room for active engagement for every young person . It is true that young people need mentors, training and resources to help them easily transit into adulthood. Young people also need motivation and opportunity to volunteer in order to prepare them for the workforce in adulthood.

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) currently serves as a relevant tool that fosters the spirit of volunteerism. However, service-learning can also be incorporated into our school curriculum so that young people right from primary and secondary school-age will have an opportunity to learn how to be active citizens at a young age.

The trend of volunteering stem from altruistic service in non-profit organizations, academic institutions, religious organization, corporate groups and government agency, it can be individualistic or collaborative in nature.
While, the current challenges facing the volunteer sector include the lack of a well structured volunteering system, the capacity to manage the volunteers, the avenue to keep them motivated and a good policy framework and infrastructure for sustainability. However, in spite of these challenges, volunteers are still thriving in different countries and contributing to social and economic growth. Learn more, visit www.unv.org www.vso.org.uk www.peacecorps.org

(hands holding seedling picture culled from google image/ (c) www.treitelabs.com/future.php)

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