Wanted: (Real) Volunteers-A A +A
Carl Vinson Apura
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I CONSIDER my volunteer work in the university as the transition period to my professional life. As a “pahinungod” volunteer, I was taught to serve the people, to be modest, and to be selfless.
My experience as a mentor-counselor for high school students also became an eye-opener for me. It has allowed me to understand and appreciate the issues facing the youth. It has also inspired me to carry the ideals of my group even after my graduation from college.
I believe that the values and lessons I learned as a volunteer brought me to where I am today, a worker in the social protection sector.
Perhaps it was my exposure with people in the community that has drawn me closer to the kind of job that I am doing today.
Almost every day, at work, I meet people who brand themselves as volunteers. Some would offer professional services while others would like to be involved in various welfare programs.
At the end of the day, however, not all of them remain. Only a few would start the work and fewer would last.
Others seem to be so willing and excited at the start but would look for allowances or freebies in the end. Some offer services for added entries in their résumés while others are only after the certificate.
Can these people still qualify as volunteers? Or can they be rightfully called volunteers?
The country’s social welfare and development agency defines volunteerism as act of involving a wide range of activities, including traditional forms of mutual aid and development interventions, that provides an enabling and empowering environment for both beneficiary receiving and volunteer rendering the act undertaken and where monetary and other incentives or rewards are not the primary motivating factors.
Furthermore, a volunteer is defined as an individual or a group of individuals who can contribute time, service, and resources for a “not-for-profit” cause, in belief that the assistance rendered would be beneficial to others and satisfy a personal need to help.
These definitions underscore the kind and level of motivation as well as the intention of the person in lending a hand and in serving those in need.
Real volunteers are people who are willing to give their time, skills, and talents for the benefit of other people without expecting anything in return.
This character of volunteers is innate in Filipino culture when people in the community worked for the common good or in mutual aid.
Just like the “bayanihan” spirit among early Filipinos, volunteerism represents the authentic character of free service.
For a number of reasons, however, this aspect of our culture has waned.
At present, with the paradox of development in modern Filipino society, genuine volunteers are needed by both government and non-government organizations to deliver better services for the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable sectors.
More volunteers are needed to spur the needed change in the attitude and in the behavior of people in the local communities and in the country at large.
Now, as a professional, I continue to share my experiences on volunteer work with the people I meet especially with the young blood because believe that the real spirit of volunteerism should be revived and instilled among the youth.
At a young age, children must begin to learn to give without expecting anything in return.
The bayanihan spirit should be kept alive by young Filipinos to help them see the realities of their own communities and appreciate the gift of being in the service of their people.
Bayanihan, our very own sense of volunteerism, is a legacy that we need to pass on to the next generation.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 10, 2012.