“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran
Many years ago, I listened to a story about giving, not just material stuff or money but of yourself. The narrator went on to say that we should all learn how to give, otherwise we would be no better than the Dead Sea. Now that analogy aroused my curiosity and I went on to read about the Dead Sea to understand why the reference was used.
Now, at nearly 1,400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea, is the lowest point on earth. The sea is fed by the waters from the River Jordon, freshwater springs and aquifers. However, due to its lack of outflow, water gathers in the Dead Sea and then evaporates, leaving behind salt and minerals, making it one of the saltiest water bodies. Owing to the high salinity levels, it does not support any life form other than some microbial life, effectively earning its name and all because it does not have an outflow!
So the moral of that story was in order to survive and thrive you need to give not just take. Now, I am not saying that if you don’t give, you will in time, fade away like the Dead Sea! The point I am trying to make is, you would never know the simple joy that comes from volunteering, or the sense of peace that comes from knowing you impacted someone’s life in a meaningful way, touched a heart and maybe even inspired someone.
Volunteering for a cause that matters make people feel good about giving back. It is a chance for volunteers to learn new skills, network, build community and improve their overall wellbeing.
The Cambridge dictionary describes a volunteer as “a person who does something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it.”
18th July marks Mandela Day and each year people worldwide are encouraged to celebrate the anti-apartheid leader’s devotion to public service by spending 67 minutes of their time in helping others. 67 minutes is significant as it marks the 67 years Nelson Mandela spent in prison. The iconic leader strongly advocated for helping others and left behind a legacy of service that is worth emulating.
“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.”– Nelson Mandela
International Volunteer Day, which falls on 5th December is another day that encourages individuals to carry out acts of service in their communities.
At Amara Charitable Trust, we are fortunate to have a band of loyal, passionate individuals we call family but are otherwise known as volunteers. Our volunteers believe in our vision and are committed to the success of the different programs we run. We hope we never take their enthusiastic selflessness for granted.
Deepali Karani, following her self-imposed retirement from the corporate world in 2016, has been volunteering at Amara Charitable Trust where she provides administration and financial support. She keeps us on track with our finances and guides and trains the Admin staff on basic accounting and record keeping. A person of many talents, one of which is painting, she recently painted message boards for us which are on display at Empakasi Secondary School, where they brighten the environment while imparting motivational messages.
Artwork by Deepali
Tanvi Shah, joined the team in 2017 and with strong administrative skills has assisted with organizing the Education Fund Program portfolio. She was instrumental in creating spreadsheets to capture student data and other information and happily assists where needed.
Aashnaa Savani, although her training is in finance, she is a covert social media content creator. Having been involved with Amara since she was 12 years old, she has a deep understanding of our organization and brings a fresh perspective to our social media presence. Full of infectious enthusiasm it is hard not to be inspired by her.
Isha Dave, is often called upon for her artistic abilities and assists us with our newsletter layouts, flyers, cards, banners and just about everything where creativity is needed, including helping out on our social media platforms. Even with her busy work schedule she always makes the time to help out.
Onesmus, Wambugu and Festus all bring their own set of strengths to the team, from driving us safely to the distant schools, making deliveries to heavy lifting when needed. We know we would never manage without their willingness and generosity of spirit. When we visit schools, they are often found, quietly speaking with students, watering the shambas, taking photos or instinctively helping where needed.
We have other volunteers that we call upon on an ad hoc basis especially for fund raising events, our menstrual health and pad-making workshops, website support and school visits. They willing give their time to support us no matter how much we ask of them.
The students we support are also encouraged to give back and volunteer for community visits organized by the college and mentorship talks at their former schools.
Looking back on all the times I volunteered what has remained with me through the years, is the connection to the communities where I served and how they shaped my perspective and made my life richer for the experience. There is a lot to be gained from volunteering, least of all a sense of purpose.
As the year stretches out before us filled with opportunities for doing good, we hope to encourage more people to volunteer their time and talents to a cause that resonates with them. We do not have to wait for a special day to volunteer. We can carry out acts of service wherever we are in our communities, at our place of work, even in our homes. Do not let a moment to do good pass.
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” – Oscar Wilde
If you would like to know more about how you can volunteer, please let us know in the comments section below.