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How Volunteering In Society Gives Life A Meaning Beyond The ‘Me’

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If history teaches us one thing, it’s that we don’t live in a perfect world. May be it is because of the horrors of wars, the miseries of disasters or the arms of negativity that have always grappled our societies. But history doesn’t end there, does it? Even in the depth of all the dark and chaotic times, a beacon of light is always sparked and leads mankind to peace and prosperity.

So, what does this beacon of light symbolise? What fuels the fire that inspires people to stand strong together and destroy the evil? These are people who volunteer their selfless services to the community when they see evil. They don’t remain mute and turn their backs on it. Rather, they decide to fight it and motivate others to do the same. Some call them heroes, but they call themselves volunteers.

Let’s talk about why volunteering is necessary? Is the phrase ‘volunteers glue our societies together’ really true? Let’s also talk about the benefits of volunteering for an individual.

Representational image. 

Why Is Volunteering Necessary?

Our societies will always have differences — be it on the bases of class, power, culture or even educational background. Even our struggles in life vary. Some struggle to send their kid to college, while some struggle just to bring a day’s meal on the table. Some of us complain about not having a car, while some will never walk again. But the emotion of empathy and respect gives each individual a sense of responsibility towards other lives.

Let’s take an example. Many people volunteer to educate underprivileged children — some donate books, laptops and funds, while some actually go to such places on their off days and make a difference. Now, the question I ask is: why would a person take the pain to wake up on a weekend and go to a slum or rural village just to teach some kids? They could just relax and enjoy the weekend, spend the day with their family, go for a movie and go to sleep peacefully.

The two key points that play a role in the selfless cause of volunteering are:

  • Assets to deliver service to the community
  • Awareness about problems in society

Each and every one of us possess assets to help others. You need not be a doctor or a teacher, a journalist or a businessman. Anything you can contribute is appreciable. The famous saying ‘If you can’t fly, run, if you can’t run, walk and if you’re unable to walk, then crawl’ best suits the argument.

But the main issue is awareness. People are so blinded by the temporary and material things in life that they fail to give back to the community. So, awareness drives are carried out all over the globe. In recent years, social media platforms have been intensively used for this purpose. Not only mass and big social service events have been surfacing on these platforms, but efforts on individual level have also been recognised and appreciated. Small initiatives such as feeding stray dogs, cleaning beaches and parks, helping the homeless, and much more, have been posted online. Such posts not only create awareness, but also motivate others.

The will to go out of your way and help someone in need is what makes us so special.

As Australian Member of Parliament Craig Kelly rightly said that volunteers are the glue that hold our community together. Not everyone around us can fight for themselves. This is where a volunteer’s contribution matters. Many will say this is not my job, and they’re right, it’s not, but it’s their commitment to the cause that gets them out of the bed on a weekend.

Representational image.

What Are The Benefits of Volunteering To Individuals?

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others, are the golden words of Mahatma Gandhi.

A lot of us are so engaged in our own career, family or life that we tend to lose our selves. This constant fight and struggle for our dreams blinds us from the mirror.

Mirror! What mirror?

The mirror that reflects, not the physical you, but the you within, your core values, the fundamental pillars of yourself. And this clouded vision leads to confusion and chaos in our mind. We fall in a mental pit and many times, accept it to be our fate. But let’s remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi once more, selfless service to others is the best way to rediscover ourselves.

And science proves that volunteering for a cause clears your mind from worries and helps you gain a varied perspective towards life. It has helped many people with mental conditions of stress or depression. When you participate in such events, you interact with different people. You not only get to know their problems, but also how they found a way forward, how they fought. This inspiration is what we need.

The benefits of volunteering are not limited to our mental well-being. One has to get on the ground and get their hands dirty. It involves a lot of physical activity. When you volunteer for clean-up drives, vast stretches of land have to be covered. All such exercises will lead to an improved health of the volunteers. There are amazing stories wherein people have made serious improvements in their health while contributing to society.

Let’s talk about the title. Each and every person has some meaning, reason in life. But have you ever wondered that this reason is ‘me’ centric? We find this meaning in our career, passion or family. But let’s together add one more point to that list, leaving a smile on someone else’s face. We ensure that no child goes to bed hungry. Let’s take care of our animals and work together to keep our nature clean and healthy. Let’s make life beautiful not only for ‘me’, but for ‘us’.

Thank you.

You must be to comment.
  1. Abhay Chitanvis

    Very good logic Dhawal ! Keep it up and try to act upon it. Good to see you on the first step of the wonderful world of volunteers ! Good luck dear !

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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