Barbados will be among the countries observing International Volunteers Day tomorrow.
International Volunteer Day, was established by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/212 on 17 December 1985 and is a chance for volunteer-involving organisations and individual volunteers to promote their contributions to development at local, national and international levels.
Today we bring you a story of two young volunteers who speak about the importance of giving back their time and energy.
There are certain words that come up time and again while listening to the recollections of young volunteers Delandro Taylor and Tameisha Henry.
Though they volunteered in different countries and under different circumstances, the two 25 year old Barbadians share similar views on voluntarism with both stressing that it takes commitment and dedication.
“Voluntarism … has to come from a heart of genuine love and care for people with no [expectation] of something in return. If you do not have this for people, don’t waste your time,” advised Delandro.
Tameisha echoed these sentiments, saying:
“I believe in being guided by passion. Mere ‘want’, in my opinion, is not enough to stick through the tough days as a volunteer. If you are passionate about volunteering I say do it.”
Both had their first major experience of volunteering in the African continent. Delandro who is a graphic designer, was called upon to do design work for Dribble 2 Africa — an outreach event held during the Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa where volunteers worked with orphans and youths in prison.
Moved by the purpose of the trip, Delandro went beyond his initial role to sign on as a volunteer — an experience which would change his life as he saw first-hand the suffering of those they were there to help.
“A little girl, no more than 10 years old came up to me begging for food. My heart broke and I gave her what I could, but nothing I did felt like enough. I will never forget her face; she changed my life and I am working towards one day changing hers,” he related.
Tameisha volunteered in Kenya through the UNDP. While finishing up her bachelor’s degree in International Business, she was moved to use her training in a more proactive way.
“I felt as though I was not an active participant in my life, and rather a passive role player. In search of passion I decided to seek volunteer opportunities,” she recalled.
This led her to Kenya where she worked at a drug rehabilitation centre.
She too was transformed by her volunteer experience which she said influenced her outlook on social development.
“Voluntarism taught me that there is always more to a problem than meets the eye. My volunteer experiences have been … as a business development volunteer. It is always very easy to identify problems and develop solutions but unless you intimately understand the history and nuances of a culture, your solution will always prove flawed. Developing people’s potential to solve their own problems is always better than trying to solve other people’s problems,” she counsels.