Is Volunteering Worth The Hustle?

Volunteering at Angels Of Hope Children's Home, Kibra.

What is volunteering and why should you volunteer? Does it mean that those who volunteer have a special place for them in heaven as we normally assume? Personally I like volunteering and so far it’s been a rewarding experience. Volunteering is the act of rendering selfless service to a cause, oftentimes for free and without coercion. It is about giving time to a good cause, specifically to help an organization, your community or an individual you are not related to.

Majority of the Non-Governmental Organizations rely on volunteers in running their day to day operations.

About six years ago, I embarked on a journey to visit children homes in Nairobi and specifically Kibra. As of 2014, I had done only four of them and could only boast of impacting one of them in a much noticeable way. That was when I donated books to one of the schools.Why did I find myself in this situation? I thought by picking up a few pieces of my used clothes and dumping them to some kids was the only way to show compassionate when I first began my philanthropic journey. Actually I later learned that these disadvantaged children need much more than just clothing. They need food, mentorship, training, ladies need sanitary towels and much more. I want you to understand one thing, before you decide on how and where you will volunteer, it is important to have thought through three key questions. Why do you want to volunteer? What volunteer opportunity best fits your career and/or other goals? And how will you maximize the potential in every volunteering experience?

At Magoso School in Kibra,2014.

For example, you find out that a school in your community lacks enough teachers, and then you decide to help teach children in that school thrice a week for free, or you and your friends decide to work for a social enterprise without pay. To me that is a noble cause worth being supported.

But note that this has to start from a passionate point of view. That’s why Today’s volunteering initiatives have taken a different trend where majority of the volunteers expect compensation afterwards. In fact a friend of mine admitted to having squandered the funding they got for their community project. They looked at 11 million Kenyan shillings and thought that that was a lot of money, so the three of them split it and went their way. You see what am talking about?

So I learnt along the way and expanded my context of volunteering by narrowing down to education for girls and engaging with local schools in the slums to offer mentorship and education materials. I am proud of the last project I undertook at Royal Community School in Chokaa area of Nairobi where we managed to raise funds to buy classroom seats for the students. The smile that was radiated on the students’ faces encouraged me to even push further and do greater things.

Seats donated by Shaboard to Royal School

Thanks to the power of technology, you do not need to be in a place physically to make meaningful contributions. With relevant skills, you can volunteer on projects or in organisations in absentia. While you need to be physically present to carry out a rural awareness or a sensitization campaign, for instance, your location is irrelevant if you volunteer as a writer, graphic designer or even a social media publicist. Your work can be done online as long as you have access to the internet. This means that volunteering can be as flexible as possible for both the volunteer and the cause.

Lessons I have Learnt From Volunteering

  • Volunteer work is one of the best ways to hone the leadership skills needed for top executive positions in the business world. Volunteering for the board of a nonprofit organization, for instance, can offer a young professional executive experience she would not find in her early professional life.
  • It has helped me advocate for a cause that am passionate about, that is, education for girls.
  • It helps improve the quality of life for everyone involved. Giving girls a chance to education means they can take care of themselves and their families in future.
  • Volunteering has contributed much to my good health, both mental and physical. It’s made me feel more socially connected and every time I have accomplished a certain mission, It hasĀ  felt really fulfilling. Studies have shown that volunteering helps ward off feelings of loneliness and depression.

What will you do to give back to the community?

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