By Lata Jha:Â
You can take the horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. You can intimate people of the sordid details of the kind of hardship those around them undergo, but you can’t force them to be moved. Selflessness is not something one can inculcate in people through classes or workshops. Like aptitude, you’re either born with it or not. It’s not something you learn from people or from books. Volunteerism needs to hit home harder with the particular causes it supports before it can be absorbed better into our thinking, lifestyles and disciplines.
The spirit of giving back and doing something for others can come only from within. And it can come only when you truly feel for issues, or if you have ever been directly affected by them. The only way volunteerism can be encouraged better is not by forcing it down people’s throats or by ensuring a certificate, but by making it an enriching experience. It needs to be something people look forward to, since in some ways, like leisure, it gives you time to introspect and think. It is also non academic or work related, and takes your mind off the stress surrounding everyday things. Organisations need to plan their framework better, as offering experiences both satisfactory and educative. Through regular and well planned activities, sessions and maybe trips, they need to make their volunteers believe that they’re doing something productive while supporting a cause. Volunteer schedules need to be better planned and more fun. They should challenge faculties, without stressing the volunteers out. Only then will people be motivated better. In our society where everyone is pressed for time and energy, volunteerism needs to emerge as something that throws a gauntlet at people while making it an experience they would cherish.
Its pursuit needs to give one the opportunity to learn, discover and grow. Only when volunteerism develops into a space that is considered to do good for both its volunteers and those it supports will it be absorbed into our society. Volunteerism need not be taken as a task. It’s no classroom, there is no pressure and there are no deadlines to adhere to. It should give one the freedom to explore and seek new meanings for oneself. At the same time, it should help one discover those meanings by engaging with people and in discussions that stimulate our energies. Volunteerism has great potential. We need to break stereotypes of how only people who have nothing else to do go ahead to ‘change the world’. Volunteerism can be as much about you, as it is about the people and issues you work with. It also need not be something boring that you want to get over with. As and when organisations manage to redefine volunteerism and people learn to see volunteerism in its true enriching light, it’ll find itself better inculcated in our society.