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Together We Can, Through Volunteering!

The 2020 UN Volunteers’ theme this International Volunteer day calls for everyone to volunteer towards causes they hold dear! Volunteering, in a nutshell, is simply the act of individuals using their skills for the benefit of society, by way of solving or overcoming challenges that plague our society. We have seen people coming forward to lend a helping hand in times of deep distress such as natural calamities, the kind we saw during floods when communities come together to pool in resources to help support families that have lost everything to nature’s fury or more recently when the pandemic struck and many people opened their kitchens for migrant laborers. While these instances prove that the instinct to help lies latent in all individuals, we believe that perhaps volunteering can be a lifestyle choice! A lifelong endeavor that helps every individual to not only do good but also get an opportunity to meet new people, enhance social skills, and also stumble upon life lessons along the way!

A Carnegie Melon study showed that “adults over age 50 who volunteered regularly were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers”. The anecdotal accounts of the benefits of volunteering have been fairly well documented. India has a rich history of volunteerism which finds mention in religion and philanthropy across the country. In fact, shramdaan (donating labor i.e. volunteering one's efforts) has manifested in diverse ways across the Indian cultural discourse. Yet, realizing that the full potential benefits of volunteering in India have not been fully harnessed.

There are several challenges that an individual faces while volunteering and a couple of factors that put off a potential volunteer are,

1) A mismatch between volunteer interest and the volunteering opportunity, and

2) No information on the impact that their voluntary work has made in the project/ in society.

The idea behind Volunteer Here came about through our founder's personal volunteering experiences, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic time. Being part of a team reaching out to people to distribute food and essentials made us realize the power of volunteering and the impact that it had on the ground level situation. The best moments of volunteering are when we see the genuine smile and appreciation from the people, which make it all worthwhile. There were times when we felt that the task at hand was too big to handle and it is at times like these that there was a feeling that additional hands on the ground made all the difference and amplified our efforts. The fact that we became part of the solution and managed to help only added to our joy!

This International Volunteer Day, we urge you to feel the same joy of being part of the solution and take a pledge to make volunteering an integral part of our life because only Together We Can make a difference.

Ranjit NT, is a co-founder, Volunteer Here, an initiative to inspire and connect communities to a rich and rewarding volunteer experience. Volunteer Here aims to ensure that every volunteer not only gets a feeling of satisfaction but also understands the impact of their involvement in social work which will result in a fulfilling volunteering experience.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author.

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