In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly mandated the observance of the International Volunteers’ Day. Every 5th of December, we honor the people who engage in activities that promote economic and social development. As my way of celebrating it, I have documented some of my experiences in an e-book. Click here to download a free copy of The Greater Jihad of Muslim Mindanao.
There are many things we celebrate and assign a day to recognize them. Aside from the usual holidays like Christmas and new year, there also are international women’s day, international children’s day, cancer awareness day and so on. There just seems to be a day for awareness for just about everything. Today, we celebrate what I think is a very important awareness day, the International Volunteers’ Day.
Why celebrate International Volunteers’ Day
International Volunteers’ Day is not just a recognition of the people who go out of their way to share their time and effort to make the lives of others better. This day is important because this is not just an awareness campaign but a call to action. This is an invitation to people who have not yet experienced the joy of volunteering. By hearing the stories of those who have volunteered, others may become curious or even be inspired to take the step in making a difference in our world.
Most people think of volunteering as a way of reaching out and helping others. While that is true, it also works in the other direction. Volunteering will give you experiences you may never have. It gives you the chance to see the world in another perspective. In a world where purpose and meaning seems elusive, it gives us the opportunity to create meaning in our own lives and leave the world a better place for the next generations.
As Winston Churchill was quoted, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” That life we make, it’s apparently our own.
My Volunteer Experience
I haven’t always been engaged in volunteer work. That changed when I got invited to charity events to perform magic. These experiences got curious about what these different organizations do and why their members hold such events. It made me decide to join some of these volunteer work and it felt good. I started joining feeding programs, community building activities, donation drives, awareness campaigns and relief operations. I even got to organize some events as an officer of some university organizations.
They were all good; however, I knew that many of these activities are not sustainable. In my self reflections, I felt that these things we do may be more for our ego than to really help. I wanted to do more, so I volunteered every Saturday in Hospicio de San Jose taking care of people with disabilities. I was working in the University of Santo Tomas back then. One day while walking inside campus, I saw a poster inviting volunteers to teach in Maguindanao.
Two years ago, I became a volunteer teacher of the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP). I was assigned to Datu Paglas but on this day two years ago, we, volunteers of the program, were assembled in Ateneo de Davao University to celebrate the International Volunteers’ Day. There we met volunteers from different organizations. That was also the time I began to form a new vision of what I want to do after my year of volunteering for the MVP ends.
I will spare you details of what transpired during my year as a volunteer but if you’re interested to know, you can download a free copy of The Greater Jihad of Muslim Mindanao by clicking here. And if you want to experience it yourself, learn more and sign-up at www.teachmadaris.org
Organizations you can Support
There are many organizations that work toward achieving noble goals. You can support these organizations by volunteering, donating or simply by spreading awareness about their missions. Here are a few organizations that you might want to try volunteering for.
Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation
More commonly known as Gawad Kalinga, which translates to “give care” in English. The organization, which was founded by members of the Couples for Christ, is best known today for building shelters for the less fortunate, despite having limited resources. They call on volunteers to help with the construction. It is important to note that Gawad Kalinga doesn’t only build shelters. It also engages in education and livelihood programs; thus, it builds communities.
To learn more on how you can support, visit http://www.gk1world.com/home
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Red Cross is the oldest and most respected humanitarian organization in the world. Founded by Jean-Henri Dunant in the mid 19th century, it continues a time-honored tradition of providing medical assistance to people in need regardless of age, race, gender, creed or political affiliation. Today, the Red Cross has expanded its scope and services. From blood services to disaster management, from organizing youth groups to advancing international humanitarian law, the Red Cross has grown to be part of the world stage.
To learn more on how you can support, visit https://www.redcross.org.ph/
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
The United Nations General Assembly created UNICEF on the 11th of December 1946 to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. The UN recognized the contributions of UNICEF to the global community even after war relief operations were over. The UN then extended its mandate to address the long-term needs of children in developing countries. Today, UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.
To learn more on how you can support, visit https://www.unicef.org/
Formerly known as the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP), the program aims to improve the quality of education in the Bangsamoro areas of the Philippines and engage them in intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. The program is an initiative of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and is implemented by Ateneo de Davao University through its strategic partnerships with local organizations.
To learn more on how you can support, visit http://www.teachmadaris.org/
World Vision International
World Vision is a humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization founded in 1950. It is currently active in more than 90 countries in aiding children with their education. In the Philippines, they are able to help send children to school with a monthly donation from a child sponsor for as low as 750 php a month.
To learn more on how you can support, visit https://www.worldvision.org.ph/
Earl Wong, a magician, educator, and entrepreneur. He has dedicated his time and effort to creating educational materials with a sprinkle of magic. He is also a financial advisor which allows him to personally spread financial literacy.