The word volunteerism describes a series of activities undertaken by a group of people on behalf of any cause. Sometimes, these activities are directed towards solving pressing problems or in some cases, they may be to make the world a better place to live in. Many people the world over undertake volunteerism in order to alleviate poverty and promote good education and health, to address environmental concerns, to prevent disasters and to fight social exclusion and violence. But most of all, they do so to build a better society, one that is free from injustice and prejudice. There are many examples in history where groups of people have banded together to provide aid and help others.
Today, volunteering has come of age as part of civil society and as a vital component of development initiatives. The most promising examples of such activities involve education, health care, hunger relief, conflict prevention and other forms of social service. Volunteers play an important role in these types of activities. Their contribution can be in the form of teaching children, collecting essential food items, helping the less fortunate, providing aid and support for a worthy cause, organizing community meetings and activities, and even carrying out research.
Many organizations, including the Red Cross, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and various educational organizations, encourage volunteers to take up voluntary work. For example, USAID has designed programs that help volunteers to teach students at the elementary and secondary levels. In fact, USAID trains volunteers to be teachers at its Peace Corps program and the International Youth Foundation. The Peace Corps, on the other hand, trains volunteers to teach in various Middle Eastern countries and abroad.
In addition, volunteer schools in the United States, including the International Volunteer Lawyers, the International Youth Federation, and the United States Volunteer Lawyers Association, have worked with a wide range of charitable and faith-based organizations, including hospitals and prisons, to provide education programs to school students around the country. Many of these volunteer programs have resulted in positive results for students in terms of increased academic performance, increased literacy rates and improved school attendance. Such programs can also benefit children in need and are often supported by charitable organizations that are also involved in the work of schools.
In the realm of education, volunteerism is important because it helps civil society. For example, when volunteers organize school conferences, help with literacy campaigns, work with youth and adults to create awareness about poverty, or conduct research about environmental problems, they not only build networks within the local community but also create networks with international partners. This leads to a broader understanding and a more comprehensive approach to a problem.
Finally, civil society is built through volunteerism. For instance, when people volunteer for environmental and other humanitarian causes, they are strengthening the foundations of international organizations that serve as an important source of protection and assistance for people in poor countries. Many volunteer organizations, including non-government organizations, NGOs and charities, contribute to efforts that promote peace and help prevent the deterioration of the environment. While some may consider this type of activity unimportant, there is no doubt that the well being of one person is enhanced by the actions of many others.
People all over the world take part in volunteerism to get a fantastic assortment of motives: to be able to get rid of poverty and to enhance general wellbeing and education, to offer secure water supply and adequate sanitation, to handle environmental problems and climate change, to decrease the chance of disasters or to fight social exclusion and violent battle. In every one these areas, volunteerism makes a particular contribution by creating well-being for individuals and their communities.
Volunteerism also forms the backbone of several international and national governmental organizations along with other civil society associations, in addition to political and social movements. There’s a widespread belief now that gross domestic product (GDP) doesn’t offer a decent image of a society as it doesn’t account for its well-being of people and their communities. Nor does it include actions which have an economic significance but fall away from the current market and so haven’t, traditionally, been revealed in national reports. The discourse on wellbeing and also well-being, and its own place in the evolving growth paradigm, has to comprehend the solidarity and mutual values of volunteerism as part of their dynamics which improve human health.
A wholesome society is one where significance is given to informal and formal relationships which facilitate interaction and involvement and so engender a feeling of belonging. It’s also one where there is wide participation by all parts of the populace. Communities with these features do much better in moving ahead to fulfill common dreams. Thus, in moving about their voluntary actions, people are also boosting an outlook that leads to a social environment which nurtures the well-being of all.