Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Camara Mohamed, Slum2School Volunteer, Shares Experience On Taking Education To Underserved Communities In Nigeria

Volunteerism and philanthropy is one of the 21st century global strategies to solve problems around the United Nations Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals. At a time when the quest for youth development and the need for leadership is at its peak, being a volunteer for developmental projects provide the unique learning experience and grooming ground for personal growth and making social impact. It is my chief recommendation for students’ co-curricular activities as well as a platform for professionals to position themselves as socially responsible individuals. From my experience, volunteering was the biggest step I took to getting closer to my personal aspirations in life, and it has been the most fulfilling and rewarding impact and contribution I have made in my society. 
 I indicated interest in being a Slum2School Volunteer in 2012 after Otto Orondaam’s speech about the Founding and future of the NGO at Lagos NYSC Passing out ceremony. It was a unique opportunity to direct my energy and time towards such a developmental and youth driven initiative. S2S was just a few months old at the time, but I had no doubt about her prospect for growth and impact, based on all volunteers’ commitment. 
 Conspicuously, since that period, Slum-to-School Africa has provided educational scholarships for over 650 underprivileged children and renovated two rural schools. We have also organized over 20 community programmes. 
 My first task was to commit my time like every other volunteer even though we received no monetary reward. Our passion did and still supersedes the thirst for compensation for all the time we spend. This was for me the true meaning of volunteering - following through a course until the end, without any iota of doubt that time and energy spent is helping to positively impact other people’s lives. A cause larger than oneself. 
 I volunteered with the primary aim of just helping and contributing to an urgent cause, unknown to me at the time, the benefits that came with being a volunteer. I was an undergraduate struggling with the scarcity of time and commitment to my grades; it was very tempting to attribute volunteering to a waste of time. The challenges however brought along so many learning opportunities I would perhaps never have gained otherwise. Working under pressure to meet deadlines and time management was a skill I am grateful to have acquired through volunteering. A skill applicable to my career till date, which I believe is same for most volunteers. We had to be spontaneous, think on our feet, always finding ways to meet up with impromptu meetings and tasks. 
Volunteering for Slum2School improved my problem solving skills. I was delighted to join the crop of young leaders who rather than complain, found ways to make things work. This made me become more compassionate and more optimistic than ever before, even though the intensity of the problems we face were and are still very glaring to us.

 My most memorable volunteer experience in August 2013 also was a test of my resolve. Being one of the 17 volunteers that travelled on water for about two hours to get to a rural community on the outskirts of Lagos and walking in swamps for another 45 minutes to get to another community, hitherto, was a challenge I would have deemed unfit to be part of. The drive and passion to provide educational opportunities to remote areas superseded our own personal comforts. I built skills around organizing, logistics, coordinating and in fact learning to live and work with different people in a condition that really demanded the highest level of people skills. 
 As a member of the sales team for Slum2School, selling the idea of the project improved my sales and networking skills. From a pool of 1,300 applicants from 190 countries, I was one of the 40 youths selected to present various developmental projects they were working on. This was a unique global opportunity and it was highly fulfilling that all our volunteer works were being recognized and appreciated globally. The One Young World Summit in South Africa was attended by global leaders like Kofi Annan, Winnie Mandela, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and many others. It was an amazing feeling to realise that amongst the countless projects in 190 countries, Slum 2 School was recognised to be one of the best. 
 Africa CEO of Standard Chartered Bank was impressed by my speech and our work at S2S. She invited me to share our ideas with a dozen global CEOs, resulting to a donation and increasing our NGOs monetary value. I also got the unique opportunity to meet Aliko Dangote, the richest and most influential black, through the contacts I made on this platform. 
 Volunteering for Slum 2 School therefore gave me the unique opportunity to be a global advocate for education. An achievement that may not come around if one remained in their comfort zones. Recruiters and various institutions are becoming more attracted to youths who have volunteered and made a lot of positive impacts around the world. With rising global challenges, problems and opportunities, the importance and necessity of volunteerism to make social impact can never be overemphasised. It is indeed an antidote to many global problems such as lack of access to education which Slum 2 School volunteers have been tenaciously working to provide across board. I believe very strongly that anyone seeking to be part of this global change makers has definitely chosen to make one of the toughest and best choices. 
 Best wishes to every present and potential young leader.

Admin's note: Will you like to volunteer with Slum2School? Then visit: for more information!

Recommended Reading: Half a Loaf & a Bakery: Learning by Doing Before Graduation- FREE DOWNLOAD-

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