Who am I and how did I start?
A 16 year old student pursuing commerce, to most I might be a nobody. But to Avni, Michael, Rana and Divya, I’m their best friend. To Usha masi and Dinkar kaka, I’m the daughter they never had. For most part of my life I have been a fairly sincere, well behaved kid who was also an introvert and so invariably, a bookworm. I was socially awkward, technically handicapped. It stopped me from throwing myself out of my comfort zone. It made me lose opportunities to show the fire of ambition I had behind the mask of silence I always wore. So this routine of hiding became frustrating by the time I came to class 8. That’s when I approached a teacher I trusted to help me out of this situation. And so came I across ‘Volunteering’. My teacher used to go to a Tamil municipal school every weekend to teach English to the std. 6 students. I started accompanying her. And oh God, what a joy it was! I began to talk to the kids, help them out as miss taught and literally felt my self-confidence issues melt away. I felt pure joy with them. That was the first time. After this, I started out with my friends to do small kind deeds in our lane or sometimes vicinity every day. We called ourselves the ‘Good Deeds Group’. In class 10, I studied with my maid’s son the whole year, helping him out often. There were problems due to our boards being different, but we overcame it. He scored 73% and I was probably happier for him than for myself. Today I’m in class 11, and I’m a committee member of the Community Service Club of my college. I now go to the same Tamil school every Saturday to teach English and feel the same bliss I had first felt 3 years ago.
Volunteering has never asked anything out of me except a little time to give back to the society who has made me what I am today. I am confident to speak to anyone, go places and learn everything I can. It has made me so much more humble and positive and thankful about so many things in life. I feel grateful everytime I am with Rana or Usha masi. They have made me a good person in exchange of an inexplicable relation of warmth and love towards them.
What do you need? A lot of time. A lot of money. A lot of contacts. Nope. A little bit of smile. A will to make out time. An empty pocket. An urge to help. Dollops of goodness. A handful of sunshine. And there’s the perfect recipe for any volunteer.
To be helpful to someone in the smallest possible way requires nothing more than a relentless, undying urge to be good to everybody. The ability to see positivity or good in all situations also makes a difference. Volunteering requires us to interact with fellow beings usually less fortunate than ourselves, hence a broad outlook aids in being more open to accepting their situation and consequently, helping to improve it. As per common misconceptions, ‘helping’ someone need not involve money in any way. Volunteering is not charity as it requires more than just donating with no strings attached. Here we can utilize any skill we have to brighten others’ lives or lessen someone’s burden.
Why do it?
Making a positive difference in someone’s life is an indulgence in itself. Most of us are constantly feeling the need to change a certain aspect or behaviour of society but are unable to do anything about it. We all wish to be good, responsible citizens but are clueless about what to do. Most of the time, lack of support stops us from doing what we are so passionate about. Being a volunteer offers all the required support needed for change. Volunteering begins with baby steps of helping educate someone, feed someone or teach a skill. Then come the tasks of changing the world. You can speak your way into people’s hearts, stir their conscience and motivate them to be a part of your movement. You can build villages, towns and cities, if you may, with your fire of compassion and kindness. Be kind and do good for the simple joy and satisfaction it brings. Do it to give meaning to your life and become immortal in the minds of the people you help through your lifetime.
Where to start?
Most of us today spend the better part of our free time pinned to our smartphones. Giving this up is a difficult, agreed. However, once the understanding of a bigger purpose to be fulfilled in life is realised, the urge to be useful or productive comes naturally. Now arises the difficult question: How do I help? I believe in starting out small first. Teach your maid basic money management. Help her kids with their studies on the weekends or teach them English. Feed the strays. Plant a sapling in your building. Slowly, involve your friends. Start a book club or mini library for the underprivileged kids of a local municipal school. Conduct a campaign in your lane to stop bursting of crackers or about the guidelines on waste segregation. If you want to have a ready platform or are short of time yet wish to offer your best help, join a volunteering organisation like iVolunteer. Surf the internet for local volunteering opportunities or enquire in your school or college for the same. Most importantly, don’t ever look for a stipend or a certificate or for recognition. Just be extremely eager and willing to work. Understand what you feel happy or passionate about. Your enthusiasm, if infectious, will automatically bring your way widespread opportunities to touch people’s lives.
What will you get?
You will not get money, fame, recognition, social status, celebrity stature, awards, luxury cars, royal lifestyle, servants at your service or a private jet.
You will get work satisfaction, pure joy, and a bounce in your steps, silent blessings, immortality in the hearts of people, peace in your mind, a meaning and greater purpose in life, reduced stress or depression, mental stimulation, confidence, an attractive personality and so much more. For students, it acts as a career booster by providing experience, a chance to check out an industry and get to know yourself better. When done with honest intentions, it becomes of great credit in the future when trying to acquire a job. For others, it acts as a hobby or an activity to give back to the community. Volunteering helps you develop skills, patience, love, wisdom, acceptance and knowledge of the real world.
Hence, it’s up to you to choose the right deal!
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.