Huge advancements in medicine, technology, and etc. over the past decades have ensured that most of us in developed countries live in big cities where we don’t have to worry about keeping our bellies full, sheltering ourselves from the elements, getting medical attention, receiving education and having access to all kinds of luxuries and entertainment. However this is not the case with a large number of people across the globe, people who live in poverty and don’t have access to even the basic life necessities, let alone luxuries. The sad truth is that there are a number of problems in the world that require our full attention and devotion.
There are plenty of causes, but very few people willing to actually help out
Some of the biggest problems in undeveloped countries are the following: lack of effective education and medical facilities, lack of food and water, poaching and the destruction of habitats of many endangered species, rampant prejudice towards people of different ethnicity or sexuality, homelessness, and people struggling with addiction or emotional and psychological problems. There are an estimated 150 million homeless children roaming the streets of the world left to their own devices.
Simply clicking a like button or sharing an article does nothing to help deal with these issues – we can all be aware of these problems, but unless someone actually does something about them, these problems will continue to plague humanity. Every little bit helps, and there are several good reasons why more people should get involved.
1. Your effort will make an actual difference
How many of us are just toiling away at our jobs, waiting for the workday to fly past, so we can go home? How many students are just sitting around clicking away on the internet feeling bored out of their mind? There is no real purpose to it and you can’t see any serious changes being made. Even when raising awareness or collecting money for a cause by distributing simple promotional items, you can see the change on people’s faces as they ask about more information on how they can help.
You can see just how much funds you have collected, and you know that they will go towards creating homes, distributing food and medical materials or building an animal sanctuary. When you can clearly see how your actions are making a direct impact, then you are motivated to keep pushing forward – e.g. when you go out and help nurture a baby tiger so that it can be released back into the wild or when you spend a few hours teaching poverty-stricken children English.
2. You develop strong connections and learn to work in a team
There is a very warm feeling that comes over you when you see another person wearing a blood donor shirt, wearing a silicone bracelet from a fundraising event or a “bracelet of hope” where the funds collected from sales go towards fighting aids in Africa. The feeling of camaraderie you get when working with people on the project and the bonds you create with the local people – especially the children – are something that will stick with you for life.
You can keep in touch with your fellow volunteers, make some friends, and even meet the person you decide to share your life with. Another bonus is that you learn to work as part or even lead a team, work under stressful conditions and use outside-the-box thinking to find quick solutions to problems. When you engage in physically demanding activities like building, planting gardens and child care, you learn about good work ethics and can even improve your fitness.
3. You will develop a new understanding and appreciation of nature and different cultures
We tend to become very short-sighted and even narrow-minded if we never leave our little city or our home country. Most people have never seen any animals – except dogs, cats and rats – in their natural environment or have never spent a day in the wild. There is just so much to learn about different cultures and about nature in general. Being so close to these creatures and so far from the luxuries of the modern world helps you gain a new perspective on life and opens your eyes to some of the real problems that are facing our planet.Some 85% of land in Europe has been modified, destroying natural habitats, and rainforest ecosystems have lost well over 90% of their former area due to human deforestation efforts.
Interacting with people from all across the globe and from very different socioeconomic backgrounds also helps develop compassion and tolerance, which are essential steps towards building a true global society. You can collect a wealth of knowledge and experience nature first-hand by volunteering in an animal sanctuary and working with people in national parks to help preserve wildlife.
4. The experience won’t just make you “feel good”, it will make you grow
While some people will tell you about how great it feels to help others and how much it can do for your own mental and emotional well-being, the truth is that the experience of volunteering for a good cause changes you deep down inside. It’s not about feeling good about yourself and earning bragging rights – it’s about learning about the harsh realities of the world, but at the same time seeing the kindness inherent in humans that manages to thrive in even the worst imaginable circumstances and suffering.
You will mature emotionally and become wiser as the rose-tinted glasses fall from your eyes. Working with impoverished street children who are often forgotten by the government, and helping them grow into healthy and productive members of society will also help you grow into a better person.
5. You will learn a lot of new and interesting things
Aside from getting some valuable teamwork skills, you will be able to learn a whole host of new skills you didn’t even think of. It’s not unusual for volunteers to learn how to prepare ethnic meals, learn how to dance or become quite handy with household DIY projects. Of course, some of the best ways to combine something that is good with something that is useful is to hone your skills by doing your internship in a third world country. Around 22,000 children die every day because they lack basic living necessities, and there are an estimated 2.2 million annual deaths due to lack of immunization. People with a medical and healthcare background are always needed and welcome in various communities and it’s a good way to get tons of hands-on experience and learn to work in adverse conditions with limited resources.
6. It will look great on your CV and improve your people skills
After all is said and done, there is also a very practical reason why you should volunteer for a cause – it is an excellent thing to have on your CV. To company execs this says that you are a good and trustworthy person who has a strong work ethics and can work in tough conditions. The experience will also teach you important people skills, teamwork and creative problem solving which can all translate well into any other area of your professional and personal life. In other words, spending some time building homes for the poor will help you develop several very practical skills that will come in handy even in a modern business environment.
As you can see, volunteering is not only an effort that benefits a noble cause – it also benefits the person doing the volunteering in a lot of ways. Once you have roamed with the wild predators, built homes with your own two hands, helped underprivileged children learn something and connected with other kind and generous people from around the globe, very few things will be able to extinguish your faith in humanity.
Featured photo credit: isafmedia via flickr.com