Make Your Life Richer – Volunteer!

A response to a blog the other night on the Global Poverty Project website about voluntourism:

As a 22 year old recently graduated teacher I took off to climb a few mountains and a spot of teaching and maybe some volunteering. Somehow I managed to not have the mindset to go off and save the world – but to learn from it.

I fell in love with volunteering and managed to volunteer around the world for over 8 years both independently and with organisations.

Volunteering is one of those things that is full of great pleasure, interaction, fulfilment, learning and a very rich experience.

Volunteering doesn’t just mean putting up your hand and then being given accolades for it. Volunteers can just as easily be a hindrance than a help and I know I have had my hindrance moments in my years of volunteering.

The earlier we start to volunteer and feel its goodness the better we will become and a useful, helpful, professional and effective volunteer for the future.

My big three rules for volunteering to be a help not a hindrance are:

  1. listen to the needs of the people
  2. work in partnership not as the expert – it should be a shared experience of cultural and personal exchange
  3. make sure what you are doing is attainable and sustainable – something that is appropriate and realistic and can continue without you

I wish someday volunteering will become a profession and effective volunteering can be taught and learnt. A dream job when I grow up will be a teacher specialist in volunteering – hopefully touring by bike and my girlfriend teaching effective volunteering for emergency aid and disasters (as she is now volunteering in Colombia for Médecins Sans Frontières).

For now I get to manage numerous volunteers who have been specially selected and see the incredible value they add and the satisfaction they receive in return. It is a beautiful process with winners all over the place!

I also someday dream volunteering gets the recognition it deserves. I don’t know how many times I have heard people say ‘oh well you were only volunteering’ like it doesn’t count – like the various Boards of Education who don’t recognise any of my eight years teaching overseas even though I was often working at Ministry level like writing curriculum for the Ministry of Education for all new universities in Ethiopia with a team.

As long as I love the volunteering I do I don’t care but without effective volunteers and volunteering this world would be stuffed but that is what makes volunteering and world so wonderful! 

The riches of volunteering

About Living Geo d'Arcy

Experiences are the richest thing in life. Love them and live them.
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1 Response to Make Your Life Richer – Volunteer!

  1. dodja320 says:

    thanks for your blog. very encouraging and great to hear of someone else who also finds in “hard to live easy”!!! I’ve got a 3 bedroom house to myself and a car for the first time and its very difficult, even though i know it wont be for long. even with these ‘blessings’ i’m finding it difficult to find volunteer work since i moved here – crazy!

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