How aptly the timing is for me to pitch on creating social service/volunteerism awareness, considering we in Malaysia have recently experienced severe flooding, submerging a number of towns and villages. Due to this unfortunate event, we can see A LOT of good people instantly sprung-out to give back to society. Kudos to these amazing people who are no less than national heroes! As for me personally, this is not the first time. Been there and done it. Prior to this current volunteerism, I've contributed a fair share in washing, cleaning, picking rubbish from the streets, cooking, at the bottom of the hierarchy tasks. It has been a good experience, and recently I cut vegetables, packed food and sorted out donated clothes in a temple within my vicinity. What did all these teach me? Every character is different, each comes with a different intention and motivation.
Having said that, initially, after taking a temporary retirement from the education industry, packed with enthusiasm and carrying with me a few years of experience as a Senior Lecturer of “Marketing of Professional Service '' nonetheless, it was not easy to associate with some NGOs. Not all, but some. What a major brain twisting matter. Despite making it clear I am alright with any kind of contribution, including teaching or counselling, some people bluntly told me my services are not needed, whereas some make me call them over and over again, yet nothing materialized. Making me realize, as easy as social service is soothing to the mind, people don't usually allow you into their social service territory. Mmmm!! Maybe it's me? My personality, my outlook or the woman with a voice?
Regardless of all that, my tiny role volunteering during the current flood and some added knowledge to what social service is, I'm glad to share with you the beautiful and ugly scene of volunteering. To those who have been hearing the social service bells ringing within their soul, here are some lessons that you can learn, contemplate and apply in volunteerism. And as you do, be mindful of the fact that you should take your time and set your intentions right as only with the right intention, the outside falls into place.
Service/Volunteerism for Me?
Good, that's a valid question. Do you want to give back to society or do you get carried away just because everyone else is doing it and you feel obliged to do so? Don't get caught in the 'I should do it too' guilt trap as above all, giving back should only come from the heart. And it is perfectly fine if you don't want to. Trust me, it takes a whole lot of courage and you need bags and bags of patience.
Remember, just like acclimating to a new job, social service too is never easy. You will need to face hurdles, move mountains in your surroundings. Expect to get your hands, legs and every part of your body dirty and not fancy. In other words, you can't pick or choose on what you want to do but instead, go with the flow. Contribute. Give your best on whatever is required at the given moment in time.
Of course, it’s about people, and the most important person here is YOU. While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. If you are the latter, stay clear of being a frontliner and it is recommended for you to stay at the back-end task/job. For those who are extroverts or you have the gift of the gab, choose your words wisely when dealing with people, especially those who are affected by the fortuitous event. All in all, touch their hearts with your smile which will make a great difference.
Oh-yes! Tell me about it. Self-promotion and self-bragging are the current trend now. What I can say is, try to minimize it. Because, trust me it may seem harmless but it WILL backfire. Remember in volunteerism you don't work alone, but you work in a team. Do not join other irritants who promote and want self-publicity by telling everyone how tired you are, how many hours you have slogged, how pitiful your family is since you are not around them, etc., etc., etc. It will only come across as braggy and annoying.
Wow! The glitz and glam of social media. Of course, volunteering can bring such joy to the people involved in it. Whether you're giving help, or receiving it, your smile will tell a thousand words. BUT instead of focusing on yourself, pose, and #ootd, why not shift the focus more on the team, on the cause, and what we can do together to make the situation better? Sounds more fulfilling and practical right?
Politics are undeniably everywhere. Be it in our nation, family, politics, career, and it exists even in volunteerism. You can only beat the hierarchy through social media. Really. For a start, you start from the bottom of the hierarchy, and don’t you ever compete with people who are like bulldozers, tractors, helicopters, BMW, Mercedes, thunderstorms, hurricanes, and whatnot. No one wants your input. Just do what you are being told until your time has arrived to climb the social service status. Otherwise, stay put at home, instead of playing social service politics.
When it comes to volunteerism, there is no race, religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. Stop creating one. If you want to, I would recommend you to do it elsewhere as discrimination strikes at the very heart of being human beings. As if there are not enough people on WhatsApp who have nothing better to do, except to bring down another race and religion.
To be wearing a miniskirt, plunging neckline, luxury handbags, shoes, and jewelleries is a big NO-NO on this occasion. For men, it's pretty straightforward, for women tadadada! Save your foundation, mascara, and your makeup-loaded face for clubbing maybe?
Charity Begins at Home
No one said you should dump your commitment to your family for social service and no one said after a tiring day at social service, you have the right to throw tantrums on your family members. Do not torture them because you want to be seen out there as a volunteer. If you can balance your responsibility for your family and at the same time, give back to society, why not? Common sense will prevail.
All you beautiful people, I am in no way discouraging you from volunteering or getting into social service. No, I am not. There is such a thing as being a practical and logical volunteer, giving our time within our means, basic protocols we ought to know and before you rush out towards social service, think again.