By Quratulaim Zamir
Hustle bustle, raging fires, bomb shells, flying pellets, the roaring guns, spattering blood, mourning and crying, crashing planes, wrathful storms, natural catastrophes, furious floods and tsunami’s, building up the never remitting threshold of pain on those paper thin ear drums of our ears. Yet so inhumane we have grown that no one pays heed to any news or happening telecasted before us. Our hearts have grown so stone hard that we are never moved by any story around us, of a mother losing her only child after she became widow, the only bearer of the family losing his life or little children dying out of thirst and famine in the farthest of the Africa. But if we have grown so inhumane how the hurt ones are surviving? How they are able to heal? Who is saving the world in so much of distress and disasters? God surely! But there are these angels in the form of humans who have this quality of devotion and care, love and understanding called the quality of VOLUNTEERISM which is still helping the world to overcome their pathos and loss.
Volunteerism is a word reflecting community service, care, help and relief. It is present worldwide in different forms starting from Arab world as tatawa’a (meaning donating something), leading to the vastness of Norway as Dugnad (collective voluntary work). But in whatever form it is, this state of human love and care exists universally reflecting the concept of volunteerism having no boundaries.
The World Values Survey (WVS) reports that over a million people in East Asia are involved in unpaid voluntary work followed by Africa and North America. Data generated by Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project in 37 countries including Pakistan reveals that over 140 million people from these countries volunteer each year through government organizations or on their own individually bringing forth the notion of people being the real wealth and power of a nation. Similarly, United nations has the UNV programme (the United Nations volunteer programme, started in 1970) for the relief, support, peace and rehabilitation of the people facing any hardships as a result of man-made or natural disasters, involving 140 countries sending in their representatives as volunteers. United Nations also focuses on stressing upon the importance and implementation of promotion of volunteerism in all the countries to achieve worldwide development.
All the countries around the globe have different organizations run by the government working socially for the empowerment of the people and rehabilitation. But since the world organizations and governments are providing help in the form of money, food and rehabilitation, why we see people from the community working voluntarily in the society, irrespective of any monetary gains? What makes them have the feel to contribute on their part to the society considering it not only the job of the government but themselves!
Survey shows that what actually motivates them is their sense of humanity, their ethics and morals which push them to extend a helping hand to those in need, their spirituality because every religion in the world focuses on volunteerism and also because people are becoming more literate and are developing the sense to contribute towards the society for its good and betterment.
Here are some views from people of different regions regarding why volunteerism is important to them and why it is gaining importance now a days.
Member, Decent Welfare society Pakistan, Dr. Aun Raza Shah, from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), said, “what makes me volunteer for a cause is, if the purpose it serves is greater than my needs i.e. the needs of the people! I gain internal satisfaction and peace out of it, knowing that I can affect other people’s lives in a better way and for a change I get a chance to do something totally unselfish. I have been, as a volunteer, to medical relief camps set up by different social working and student NGO’s during the floods in Pakistan. It made me realize the problems a nation faces at the time of a disaster and the difference each and every one of us can make if we decide to put in the effort. The aids from abroad were there. There was money, food and medicines but what people needed was a soothing hand, a compassionate shoulder and this is what all volunteers were providing along with the help in rehabilitation of the areas.”
Umar Mukhtar, from Engro PowerGen, Dharaki, Sindh, is a donating member of Sahara Welfare Trust who said while sharing his feelings on volunteerism, that it brings him spirituality and peace when he takes out time to help others and it gives him such happiness which he can’t acquire from anywhere.
Flavia Pansieri, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, highlighted that the desire to contribute to the well-being of society is the force which drives the volunteers around the world and then they work without expectation of material reward, and their efforts result in promotion of civic values and social cohesion.
Volunteerism is needed everywhere from class rooms to war zones and from homes to hospitals; Wherever there are humans struggling for help volunteerism has its role to play there.
Whitney Cordoba, 4th year medical student, from Universidad del Valle, (University of Valle) Colombia,shared, “when I was coordinating the Standing Committee on Reproductive Health including AIDS, I felt honored conducting Campaigns in Community along with participation on Health Brigades and Activities for Children. I strongly believe that one as a human being, for the sake of the spiritual benefit and mental health, shall always allow oneself to experience things other than academics. It reminds us the real important facts of life and in addition, you can learn those things that are not included in your curriculum. I call these the lessons of the highest qualified University that ever existed before: The University of Real life.”
Volunteerism is seen as a new trend, rising as a good among all the vice in the world. It benefits the community as well as the person who volunteers in numerous ways. When a person shares his time with others helping them in anyway it brings good to the community and in return the person himself gains, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-fulfillment. It does not matter how big the voluntary work is, but it always brings much bigger reward in the form of contentment. It can be as simple as clearing anybody’s path off the dirt and garbage. Or it can be helping the devastated build up their home with monetary aid or as helping hand during its construction. It always is a source of great happiness, rehabilitation, peace and prosperity . Alongside volunteerism is also a powerful tool of joining people from different casts, sects and religions to unite for a single cause, for the love of their brethren. So it becomes a source of unity. It helps the society on whole to flourish from the collective efforts of all the people. Day by day the number of people getting inspired by the volunteers is increasing. Every now and then we see student based NPO’s, NGO’s and many other trusts developing with the motto of “with the people, for the people” which ensures a sense of goodness in the society.
“Everyone can make a difference. Volunteerism matters. Volunteerism is a source of community strength, resilience, solidarity and social cohesion. It can bring positive social change by fostering respect for diversity, equality and the participation of all. It is among society’s most vital assets.” - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon