Volunteerism: You, Too, Must Contribute!

Volunteer teacher Neneng Sulastri conducts art lessons in a juvenile prison for males at Tangerang in Indonesia's Banten province

We’re so used to hearing (or saying) bad things about our country. The traffic, the corruption, the selfishness, the poverty, the criminality, the unjust justice system, the non-educating education. You name it. Chances are, we’ve said it.

We forget that there are still many good in this country. This ‘good’ makes me one of the most optimistic persons about Indonesia. I truly believe that we have so much potentials. We have so many good people around that will help make this happen.

A friend recently asked whether social media has actually made positive impacts to the country. “Of course,” I said.

I gave him a list of initiatives — however small or large, doesn’t matter — by Indonesians for Indonesia on Facebook and Twitter. Many are volunteer-based, some works in the actual area of social work (NGOs or development agencies), and others are of social entrepreneurship.

Take for instance, volunteer-based activities of Taman Bacaan Pelangi, Coin A Chance, Komunitas 1001 Buku, Akademi Berbagi, Good News From Indonesia, IDBerkebun, VolunteerID, Bincang Edukasi, RUJAK, Indonesia Mengajar, and social entrepreneurs such as QM Financial, Go-Jek, and nulisbuku.com.

What I want to say through this article is this: You, too, can contribute.

Scratch that. I meant to say: You, too, must contribute. It’s time.

So many people have committed themselves to initiatives to improve the country. You, too, can contribute. You have to. Don’t just expect things to change. Participate in that change through doing good.

Doing good is simple. It is as simple as, for a start, smiling at people we pass by everyday — the security guards, the warung owner, or even strangers. Being professional at work counts. Dedicating our time for our loved ones, too.

One step further would be to participate in social activities. Initially with re-tweeting, sharing information over Facebook and spreading the good news. Then another step would be to donate — time, effort, funds, thoughts and ideas — to certain activities that we are drawn to.

Volunteering is beneficial and rewarding at the same time — for us and those that we assist.

JGBlog - 130527- volunteering2Last Sunday, I had the pleasure to attend a volunteer workshop organized by Komunitas 1001 Buku (or the 1001 books community). It was so heartwarming to be there. Everyone was eager to give their time and energy for the betterment of this country.

Questions arose. Where do we start? Which initiative or organization? What can we offer? What if we still need to work for a living, how can we volunteer then?

Sensible questions. Here’s my response: Start now.

Start with what speaks to you most, what is starkly visible to you, what is in your immediate surrounding. Offer whatever you can — if you can give a couple of hours a month, do start with that. If you can give some money, then by all means, do so.

A friend who likes to cook for the poor was once visited by her neighbor. The neighbor said that she did not have much money, but she would love to help with the cooking. What a beautiful suggestion.

If you are a writer, help write the materials for the initiative, tell the stories. If you are great at finance, help tidy up their book system. If you are a graphic artist, help create their brochures or teach children arts. In a nutshell, offer them: You.

And to the last question during that event (What if we still need to work for a living, how can we volunteer then?), my response was: I totally understand, for I myself still need to work for a living. Keep the job. Keep working for a living. I am sure the work is not a 24-hour a day work. We still have time beyond work. We give what we have. We give what we are willing.

Volunteering is a wonderful thing. It is enriching to us and so beneficial to others in need. The volunteering and social entrepreneurship ball has started to roll in this country. Let’s get on the bandwagon and give it a try. I can assure you, it will too bring smile to your lips and warmth to your heart. Just like it did me, and so many more others.

The article was first published on the Jakarta Globe’s blogs. The pictures were taken from the blog too.

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