Volunteering amidst a pandemic

I’m certain many of you’d have come across the terms, ‘Volunteering’ and ‘Humanitarian trip”. Whether you’ve only heard of the terms, or haven’t heard the terms, or have any questions regarding this, this article will address it all.

Humanitarian trips are a way to promote human welfare and improve outcomes for people in-need people. Everyone has something to offer, so humanitarian trips are for all ages and backgrounds.

I’ll divide “humanitarian trips” into two parts. One is ‘within your country’ and the other is ‘abroad’.

Images are from Google.

When it comes to humanitarian works abroad, a host of factors need to be considered.

1. Finance — Remember! These trips abroad can cost you thousands of Rupees! When I checked a portal allowing a humanitarian trip to Nepal from India for two weeks, that went up to Rs 65,000/- which may seem less in American Dollars or the Euro but is nevertheless a lot of money. Now imagine how much it would cost to go farther. So, plan meticulously if at all you want to embark on one of them.

2. Time — Time is another important factor to consider since we are talking about going abroad. Remember to keep your schedule free during your time abroad. Pack essentials and stay according to the time, finances, and purpose of your stay.

3. Learn about the country and culture — This will be a winning factor for you. Learn the language of the country you want to volunteer in. Maybe just the basics, or maybe up to an advanced level.

Of course, you can fuse travel and volunteer work and make it a satisfying experience. But, is volunteering abroad always the right choice? Well, every coin has two sides and so does volunteering abroad. Here is how it affects the natives of the land volunteers often visit.

Encourages reliance on others rather than themselves:

When hordes of volunteers keep coming to solve the problems of a native country, here is what runs in the minds of the natives.

“Maybe we are inefficient.”

“Maybe we should just depend on them.”

“Oh, it is so humiliating to have somebody else fix our problems all the time!”

Unless it for basic necessities like during natural or man-made disasters, etc where natives of any land need help, the natives should be given help in fixing their problems, not fixing their problems right away. Don’t spoon-feed them, it can be insulting to them.

Instead, empower them. Interact with locals and find solutions alongside them. Understand their problems, causes, circumstances, and cultural aspects.

It is rightly said, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

When you go to a foreign land and try to talk to a native and he doesn’t understand you, do not scream in their ears word by word. The problem is not their hearing, but your expectation that the natives would suddenly understand your language. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Not the opposite.

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, all that is a lot to do if I volunteer abroad!”

Worry not, for you need to start with small steps. Your first attempt could be in your local area. Go to your local NGO or any organization that does social service. It could be social service to humans, or even to animals!

Start volunteering in your local area. This won’t cost you thousands of rupees, won’t require you to travel thousands of miles, and will still give you all the satisfaction and experience of social work you need.

Don’t suspect your abilities. You can help senior citizens and people with disabilities by buying all their basic necessities for them. You can donate to the nearest old age home, orphanage, NGO, or animal shelter. You can feed street animals. You could tutor someone with something they need help with.

If we can start learning at home, surely we can start volunteering from home, isn’t it?

Coming to the title. Should we volunteer during a pandemic?

First, be clear whether you want to volunteer during the pandemic. Ensure you are fit as a fiddle, both physically and mentally healthy. Secondly, make sure you take all precautions such as proper masks to wear, hand sanitizers with you, ensuring social distancing, and washing hands thoroughly. Now, you’re off to go!

According to me, you don’t have to do elaborate planning, spend lots of time, energy and money to volunteer. You just need to do the small things in your everyday life. I see many people not wearing masks and neglecting social distancing. I’ve told a few people to follow the rules. That may seem small, but even that makes a difference. There are instances where I’ve helped people and animals, but I’m not here to boast.

My point here is that even a seemingly small help from your side can make a difference! So, are you willing to make that difference?

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