To volunteer: when “a little goes a long way” really means something
When I was still in school, our teachers would always prepare this obligatory activity for us called a Service Learning Activity. It happened every year like clockwork but the themes differed depending on what value they were trying to embed in us that year. Sometimes it was teaching underprivileged kids, other times it was a feeding program. But always—always—it was mandatory volunteerism.
I can’t blame them, really; they were trying to teach us all the good that our help could do. And when we all saw how the eyes of those we helped lit up, it made the sweaty days and long bus rides worth it.
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But I haven’t been in the educational system for quite some time now and volunteerism finally holds true to its name. Anything I want to do for others, I need to do go search for the opportunity myself. It’s hard, both because How do I help? and Do I really want to take time out for this?
We can’t answer the second question for you, but we can help you with the first one.
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As the name implies, Habitat For Humanity is all about building homes and communities for those that don’t have the means to put it up themselves. You can help by donating financially or you can actually get your hands dirty and learn a few handy skills by going on-ground.
It’s all well and good but the best thing about Habitat For Humanity might be that they don’t require more than you can give. You can choose between a half-day immersion or a whole-day immersion depending on your schedule. And if you’re not very crafty, the organization also accepts volunteers who want to help spearhead community development initiatives that center on values formation seminars, financial literacy training, social enterprising seminars, health and wellness programs and community cleanups.
All that the first step requires is that you sign up.
If you’re included in that part of society that doesn’t believe in giving street kids money (and for good reason), there are other ways to try and help them out. For example: Project PEARLS—which stands for peace, education, aspiration, respect love and smiles. Basically, the organization believes that empowerment begins with education and that it’s education that can break the cycle of poverty.
Volunteers are needed every day of every week and each activity and session focuses on nourishing the mind and the body. Be prepared though, you will definitely be hands-on with the kiddos. Up for it? Be our guest.
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As Fräulein Maria once said, “When you read, you begin with A, B, C”—and this is the same foundation on which Childhope Philippines was built on. Its banner program, The Street Education and Protection Program (STEP), works on an education without borders strategy, which means that the main goal is to make a difference by providing all street children an avenue to learn the literacy basics: reading and writing.
But the story doesn’t stop there. The organization also offers more holistic programs that focus on psychosocial development, medical and health services, paralegal assistance and skills training among street kids.
With Childhope Philippines, you can opt to donate monetary help or physically set time aside to volunteer.
If there’s an organization that needs no introduction, it might be PAWS. But in case you need a catch-up, here we go: the goal of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society is to prevent animal cruelty through education, sheltering and advocacy. Sounds like something we can all get behind, doesn’t it?
You can always adopt a friend from their shelter and provide financial aid, but you can also apply to be a volunteer and choose which activity best suits you. Trust us when we say there’s something for everyone; there are marketing efforts, foster care setups, legal work and even office work to get your hands on.
Sometimes it isn’t about giving your time—we know how hard it is to give that up—it’s about giving the excess.
Tuloy Sa Don Bosco gives youth a way out of the streets and gives them a second family. Within the walls of the institution, they learn the values of discipline and honest work and the benefits that these reap. Through art, dance, song, sports and the teaching of practical skills they can use outside of Tuloy, the kids learn that there is another way to live.
There’s a call for doctors, nurses, therapists, sports trainers and teacher’s aids all the time. But while these require particular skill sets, there are also simpler tasks you can volunteer for, like being an OJT buddy (a mentor), an events volunteer or even just a prayer warrior.
As a little side note, Tuloy Sa Don Bosco is an organization that’s close to my heart; my family’s been supporting their initiatives for years—whether that meant signing up as a tutor, giving old clothes or purchasing their (honestly yummy) dessert products after Sunday mass.
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Volunteering doesn’t have to be difficult and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to help out. At the beginning, it’s as simple as choosing an advocacy. So the question now becomes: Where will we be seeing you?
Art Alexandra Lara
Featured Image John Christian Fjellestad