International Volunteer Day: Take Action!

Today, December 5, is International Volunteer Day. Have you ever thought about being one yourself? Volunteering is not only about going to developing countries to help people in refugee camps (which to me is stuff for heroes), but working in a charity in your hometown, doing something you're good at, sharing knowledge and skill.

There are volunteers who serve meals at homeless shelters, others who teach languages to immigrants or care for destitute children, etc. It's certainly hard work, but it's very rewarding as you have the opportunity of evolving on a personal level, changing dusty outdated concepts, meeting some amazing people, and maybe most importantly, learning to value life, regarding yours and that of others from another viewpoint. In the end, the volunteer receives more than he gives.

So, open now a new tab in your favorite browser and google information about the nearest charities and institutes where you can offer your best. You won't be let down!

I’ve selected a few accounts of volunteers about their experiences:

“I did the short-term English teaching workshop in Guatemala this summer and had an awesome time! The GVI staff is extremely welcoming and helpful and all of the volunteers were really nice. The program is well run and respected in the communities they work with.

“You really feel like you're making a difference for the children who are really excited for you to be there and really eager to learn, and by staying with a host family you are really immersed in the culture.

“And you're free to do pretty much whatever you want in your free time; one weekend I climbed one of Guatemala's volcanoes and another I rented a beach bungalow with some other volunteers.”

- Kate Schroeder on teaching English in Guatemala [1]

“I considered the two weeks a great introduction to overseas life because it was the opportunity of a lifetime to do something more meaningful than simply study or be a tourist.

“I learned a valuable lesson from the Irish locals - to live a simpler way of life and enjoy it. Possessions are just things we set store on. We should instead focus on earning richness from the relationships we have and strive to make this world a better place for others, rather than on what success we can achieve for ourselves as individuals.”

Amanda Oswalt on volunteering at a nonprofit organization dedicated to building peace by bringing together citizens from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. [2]

“Stirling enrolled in Fundraising and Volunteer Management at George Brown College and started volunteering. Today, she offers her time to a local humanitarian organization where she serves meals for those who cannot afford one, helps the homeless during cold weather alerts and provides emergency response relief. She hopes going to college and volunteering will help her get into International Development Studies at the University of Toronto one day.

“But while working locally, Stirling got a taste of where she really wanted to be. ‘In five to 10 years, I’d love to be working overseas on the frontlines,’ she says. ‘Working to see progress and being a part of something. I want to bring the goodwill of Canadians to other countries.’”

Article about Bridget Stirling and her volunteer experiences [3]

More info: World Volunteer Web UN Volunteering For Our Planet

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