December is here, the last month of the year. This is the school holiday month and the month where Christians worldwide celebrate Christmas.
But before we get too caught up in consumerism, December is also the month we should consider the importance of giving our time and using our talent to do volunteer work.
International Volunteer Day falls on Dec 5. It is the day designated by the United Nations in 1985 to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism. According to UN Volunteer’s ‘State of the World’s Volunteerism Report’, there were 970 million volunteers worldwide in 2017.
While there are many who volunteer on a larger scale with bigger organisations such as Mercy Malaysia or Red Cross and going to natural disaster-hit areas, there are some volunteers who are also helping out with small gestures in our own backyard.
According to the report, of the 970 million volunteers, one in four contributes time and skills through organisations and the rest do so directly and helping out in their communities.
I decided to do volunteer work earlier this year and found it to be like ‘chicken soup for the soul’. Yes, it can be tiring and demanding at times, but at the end of the day, it made me feel better emotionally for being able to help those in need.
From the outset, volunteer work always seems fun and engaging. But behind the scenes, a lot of hard work is put into it, not to mention it can also be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating.
But through it all, the act of volunteering provides opportunities to use one’s talent, develop new skills and build friendships.
My volunteerism journey with a small group of people from Bon Appetit (a charity mobile food truck which feeds the less fortunate in certain areas in Kuching) has taught me much. Not everyone is born into a life of opportunity. There are hardships and poverty.
We should be thankful for things we take for granted – having food on the table, children being able to go to school, and having a roof over our heads.
While I expect nothing in return through volunteering, I have gained a wider networking circle with talented individuals from all walks of life. These include people from the corporate world, a former air stewardess, educators and business people – all with a common interest in giving back to society. It has also created new friendships and gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.
While what we do are small acts of kindness and probably would not have worldwide impact, but I believe it can change the world of those we help.
There is so much hostility in the world today. Hopefully, the world will be a more compassionate place and breed kinder citizens when everyone pays it forward.