Because of our monetized culture, we Nigerians place more emphasis on money than time. Yet, real and lasting impact is determined by the amount of time, not money, invested. This is where volunteering comes in.
Volunteering simply means to freely offer to do something and there are too many things waiting for someone to do something about. Even the governments of developed nations rely on the support of the volunteering sector to achieve their objective. Therefore, this is most critical for Nigeria.
Types of volunteering:
Community Support: This is the basic volunteering and it involves things like giving car lift to church, schools, market, hospital; childcare support; home visit to the sick; participating in community/club/association activities; and even making out time to honour invitations to events.
Project participation: Giving of time to participate in the design, planning, mobilisation and execution of a project. It could be a charitable project or a business but it is done for free
Skill Based: Providing our professional expertise for free. This is not limited to doctors, lawyers or teachers but all expertise which can be leveraged for a cause
Mentoring: Giving of time to supervise the development of young people in same line of endeavour
Fundraising: Participating in activities to generate finances and manpower for a project. We can undertake a wide range of activities to achieve this – marathon, abseiling, bungee jumping, fasting, costume dressing, concerts, etc.
Membership of Voluntary Organisation: Committing regular time to work with organisations such as Red Cross, St John Ambulance and Habitat for Humanity. These organisations do tremendous work and couldn’t have succeeded without her voluntary members.
Corporate Volunteering: Large corporates allow their employees to volunteer during working hours. These employees can volunteer their professional expertise or just their time. This is an area our corporates need to improve but how can they if employees are not making such demands?
Diaspora Missions: Many Diasporas can volunteer their holidays to the development of Nigeria. The professional and non-professional expertise from developed nations can make a great impact. These people know the huge part volunteering plays in developed nations and should bring this awareness to Nigeria by their participation.
Critical areas in need of volunteering:
Party Politics: To improve the quality of our politics and the quality of our political leadership, we need many more Nigerians volunteering their time, skills and expertise to organise our political parties. Also, volunteers are needed to undertake fundraising to fund party activities and to ensure we break the grip of godfathers.
Education: We desperately need volunteers to support the work of teachers in public schools, especially those in poor neighbours. Focus should not only be on preparing them for WAEC or NECO exams but preparation from primary school through to secondary schools. Also, focus must go beyond Maths, English & Sciences to include Civic Responsibility, Sports and Leadership. When we volunteer our time to teach, many of these students will replicate the same model to students in the future.
Healthcare: Volunteering to the healthcare sector requires more than doctors & nurses. Volunteers are needed to support various campaigns – immunization, breast-feeding, public health enlightenment, medical research, etc. We also need volunteers to initiate fundraising activities and then participate in the effective utilisation of the funds raised.
Community Development: Through volunteering, we can undertake many projects that will make our communities clean, safe, healthy, enlightened, empowered and integrated.
Social Care: We need volunteers to assist with the care of the aged and the young. With our level of underdevelopment, many of our young and aged are abandoned, and these are people who can’t care for themselves. This is not a task to leave in government’s hands. We also need people to volunteer as mentors to our youths, many of whom have no one to guide them.
Emergencies: Emergency organisations are so short of staff and are in desperate need of more volunteers. We need to get involved especially as our emergency cases are on the rise. We also need a critical mass of volunteers to train as first aiders and use the training to help save lives.
Housing: Through volunteering, we can build homes for orphanages, the aged, the poor, and victims of natural & man-made disasters. We may consider doing this under the umbrella of charities such as Habitat for Humanity.
The benefits of volunteering include: the acceleration of nation-building at reduced cost, sense of fulfilment/accomplishment, communal living as communities become more integrated, more accountability from government through citizen participation in governance, the impetus for us to do more, transformed mind-set from self-focused to nation-focused, etc.
For me, the biggest motivation for volunteering is, this remains the best and quickest way we can transform Nigeria from her current underdeveloped state to a developed nation, meeting the needs of her citizens and that of Africa.
The UN International Volunteer Day (IVD) will be celebrated on 5th December. Volunteer in one or more ways today if you desire a developed Nigeria.