Author: Maxwell Baganim
International Relations Director,IMDAD
Training and Sustainability Manager for Global African Council of Youth Leaders.
The obvious question that has been asked umpteenth times by people who do not know much about volunteerism and philanthropy is, “These volunteers, as their name implies, are not paid, so what is their reward, what do they benefit after spending thousands of dollars all in the name of volunteering?” I would, in response to this question, outline the preoccupation of volunteerism. Volunteers help develop deprived communities and their inhabitants; they train and empower people with skills and knowledge towards securing and establishing businesses, and they learn, as well, about diverse cultures, ideologies, and transformational agendas of societies, nations and the continent in general. As a result of their engagements with more people, they become open to wider opportunities. Philanthropy is the mainstay of volunteerism. These volunteers become leaders who are selfless, and their selflessness is borne out of their committed involvement in this act of volunteerism, responding to the needs of humanity and empowering them to lead as well.
(MAXWELL BEGANIM ON ONE OF HIS VOLUNTEERING MISSION)
In the world today, and even in the ages passed, it has been an incontestable fact that every hinge of development has an unmovable side called leadership, and it has proven to be the game changer in every field of human endeavour, even in sports. The success or failure of an enterprise, a movement, an organisation, is largely determined by the nature of leadership that leads its frontiers. The African continent, suffice to say, has been bedeviled with more destructible leaders who have sapped the resources and wealth of the continent, than selfless ones who have purposefully shaped the continent’s focus and agenda. Leadership in Africa has been endured but not enjoyed. It is the reason many of its citizens are hesitant, and usually unwilling to invest in the continent or engage in acts of volunteerism. In their estimations, African governments are given much through taxes and other means of revenue generation, and so it becomes needless for citizens and investors to undertake activities that these overly-filled governments are supposed to do. It has been a major setback and discouraging factor in pepping up the interest of people in volunteerism. This is why volunteerism still records understating effects on Africa.
The challenges of volunteerism have been widespread. Our education system has little or no room for active volunteering neither do our jobs. Tight academic schedules in our schools and little rewards in offering working services are disincentives to assembling more volunteers in our scope. These constraints are real and understandable but there is still the need to do something about them, especially as young Africans. We should not only wait for expatriates to come to develop our continent without us showing any attempt to join efforts or be engaged in acts of transformation. Most of our problems remain unsolved because, as Africans, we are more skilled in merely talking about our misfortunes other than proffering solutions or taking initiatives that would solve them. It is a growing worry!
Against this devastating development, major stakeholders of volunteerism, who are utterly convinced that volunteerism is the needed solution to the development of Africa, have, through major platforms, embarked on awareness creation and sensitisation, especially in many tertiary institutions to draw all hands on deck. The impact has been reassuring and it is believed that if the teeming youth would engage in the activities of volunteerism, it will not be long that poverty and underdevelopment will be a thing of the past in Africa. Have you ever thought for a moment that we could all be volunteers? That we could all be a selfless group of committed individuals who are ever ready and willing to share and solve one another’s problems with collective efforts? The world would be a better place! All we need to do is to be fixated on the course and needs of humanity and not on some selfish leaders who are obsessed with looting state treasuries. They will forever be there, and our problems will continue escalating and if nothing is done about it, the continent will gradually sink into abject poverty, huge debts and decrepitude, with no residue to gather for tomorrow.
The trends are changing, however. My experience in volunteerism has exposed me to diverse people who are head over heels with volunteerism—touching the lives of the many they can—without expecting any rewards. Among such people is a respectable volunteer called Prince Agbata who has contributed in solving the problem of waste in Ghana. He decided to challenge the status quo and now he is doing great. There is also a story about a young lady, Aline, who is with the World Youth Alliance (WYA). She challenged the decision to make abortion legal for minors, and she is making greater strides. Now WYA has a network of over 60,000 members who are contributing to solving the problems of humanity. Gilbert Reinall Addo founded the International Model Diplomats for integrated Development and now it has over fifty volunteers contributing actively by establishing Career Development Centres and Back to School Drive Initiative, with the aim of taking 300 and more street children back to school. Volunteerism is certainly the way to go! This is promising! This trajectory assures me that volunteerism is not facing only a one-sided negative terrain. The prospects are great!
We are in a world where we naturally need to connect with people. The old maxim puts it in a much better way that “No one is an island”. Yes, in our fight to eradicate poverty and promote education and development in the world, no one can choose to be an island. The super powers cannot be unconcerned and the less developed countries do not have a choice to be concerned or not. It is a clarion call to all and sundry, from all walks of life, to engage in volunteerism. Through active volunteering, we can create a wider network of people who can provide solutions to the many problems the world faces today. Everyone needs to be a volunteer; everyone who has the course of humanity at heart. It is the needed solution to the underdevelopment in many parts of the world, especially in the African continent,
If you leave this world as you came to meet it, then you are a failure; but if you contribute to make it a better world, that is when you can confidently say that you have paid your dues, and as such deserves recognition. The recognition does not necessarily have to be on big platforms, acknowledged by big people, but, at least, by the unfortunate ones whose lives you have touched and bettered.
BY: MAXWELL BEGANIM