But why? Why indeed. There might be a few among us who, every now and then, look up from our McFries and glance at the misfortunes of the less privileged brethren, and simply shake our heads and move on to the frosty cone. Taking the initiative to get out and do something outside the expected requires going over a significant potential barrier, for many.
Our inner sadhu usually sticks to striving for goals that have a long-term reward. After all, with all the fame associated with the visibly successful – the Ambanis, the Advanis, the Bachchans, and the Dhonis – famous for their achievements as businessmen, (in)famous politicians, evergreen (and omnipresent) actors, and debonair sportsmen, just why would you spend time in an activity that doesn’t pay, or appraise, you. Just how many famous people can you recall with a community service profile? Okay, well sure…Mother Teresa. There you go, now you’ve run out possibilities, haven’t you?
No, but seriously, is it really important to seek out social, or community, work outside your to-dos? Absolutely, and preferably from an early enough age! Perhaps, this is why community service is a requirement in a large number of schools in many developed societies.
For instance, here are some statistics on community service among students. in the USA, student community service is a part of school and university curriculums. In fact, according to a 2010 study from a sample of over 4,000 university students from five countries – USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – participation of the order of 58-79% within their student population, was observed.
Another report – College Students Helping America – compiled by the Corporation for National and Community Service Authors, showed that there were 3.3 million college students involved in volunteering work in 2005, an increasing trend from previous years. Overall, there are 62 million volunteers in America, young and old, which makes about 25% of the population.
Indian schools have not managed to reach the level of urgency that these countries seem to possess, when it comes to student initiatives towards community work, but the situation is happily looking up. Awareness is spreading, slowly and we certainly hope steadily.
Currently, the youth volunteering scenario, in India, thrives as independent volunteering, within the community, and finally in more formal settings like corporate foundations, NGOs, faith or charity based organizations, grass root NGOs, social activism, participation in movements and campaigns, online volunteering, etc.
One can even participate in government run programs like the Ministries of Youth Affairs and Sports (NYKS Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, NCC National Cadet Corps etc), Health and Family Welfare, Women and Child Development, Rural Development. But the number is still small. Read our articles on non-profit and NGO careers.
According to a Ministry of Statistics report from 2012, only 1.5% of India’s population is engaged in volunteering activity, inclusive of youth and beyond. The needs are aplenty but community involvement still needs to be worked on. Dilli, and its community service enlightenment, still bahut bahut dur hain!
Okay, there is no doubt that there is always a growing need for individuals who can spend their free-time at a shelter rather than at a mall. But what are the benefits of such a gesture? What does student volunteering do for a collective society? And if you really want to explore the other side of this two-way street – What does volunteering do for you? And since students are at the focus of this topic – What does volunteering do for you, as a student?
Educational institutions are involved in various CBL, or Community Based Learning, opportunities in America. For instance, Campus Compact, a coalition of about 1,100 higher education institutions, is a non-profit founded by Brown, Georgetown, and Stanford, Universities. It works in gathering student engagement towards community service. Over the decades, similar programs have combined their student body force with various community non-profits and social service organizations.
Some of the areas, student volunteer projects concentrate on, are –
A rather logical question, here, can be posed to measure the effectiveness of student engagement in these volunteering projects. Why students? What difference do their contributions make to local community organizations, non-profit, NGO, etc?
Over 92%, of community organizations, in a 2001 study, voted in favour of a continuing flow of student volunteers. They provide an extensive labour pool which considerably influences in sustaining the costs of running these organizations. Also, it has been seen that students who volunteer at an early age are more prone to volunteer in later years.
Thus benefiting, the non-profit sector, an increasing pool of participants in the future. Although students are generally perceived as inexperienced and assigned to tasks teaching younger kids, or participating in fund-raising or recreational services, they are also highly receptive to training, with the capability of handling far more crucial roles in such organizations.
Coming over to the more personal – how does your act of student volunteering influence the self of the selfless you. Is it simply in preparation for the judgement day at the pearly gates or is there more value to be gained from volunteering in your community? Apart from the obvious halo over your head, that is. Let’s list the motivations behind it.
So, you step up a little and get so much back in return. And what’s better you turn out to be an all-around nice guy for having done so. Perhaps it is time that we take a strong turn towards a better society and give back to it, no strings attached.
Saathi, to fir haath badhaaye?