Do you have what it takes to be a good volunteer?
Why should you care about what the world needs? Because you, like me, are a human and our special role as humans gives us the ability to connect and empathize.
By connecting with someone else who is struggling we help ourselves and how we can help best is by enhancing these qualities in the amount and way that each of us excels. So in the words of Marianne Williamson, “It’s not just what we do, but also who we are, that transforms the world.”
From the perspective of BEST Programs, volunteers can be divided into two, over-lapping, types. The first are the pure altruists who instinctively care about the cause, or have suffered on their own in the same right; it can be because of a promise or wanting to serve in order to return what they have been given. The over-riding sentiment of these participants is generosity (see below) and gratitude. There is no age or other type of limitation to applying for these posts ranging from 18 years to the sky’s the limit.
The second group of NGO intern participants has some of the above mentioned characteristics but they also wanted to improve their job skills, challenge themselves, and explore their abilities in an administrative setting. According to their age, before volunteering between 2/3 and 3/4 of unemployed volunteers believed that volunteering would increase their chances of finding a job.
These participants work in the headquarters of organizations or association in city centers such as Madrid or Barcelona, and in the European Capital, Brussels trying to experience the process of volunteerism from the inside out. They learn about how the organization is run, how decisions are made and how things happen on an administrative level. After completing their experience almost 1/4 said that volunteering had actually helped them find employment.
Why Pay to Volunteer?
Every year BEST Programs makes around 100 volunteer placements for people of all ages and one of the most common question asked by volunteers is why should they pay to work for free. Besides the practical and logistic points mentioned on the posting Why Pay for a Volunteer Program Abroad, below are more points and attributes of our participants which I hope will help you understand.
Do you have what it takes to be a good volunteer?
So do you have anything in common with Mother Teresa, San Francisco de Asis, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Oskar Schindler and the Dalai Lama?
According to the Canadian National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participation as well as BEST´s own polls of participants in our Volunteer Program, if you can relate with any of the below attributes, you might want to consider volunteering for a trail period to align with that inner urge.
Also on volunteering: Teach English and Volunteer Thailand (video)
- Are you devotion driven? Do you feel an ardent, often selfless affection and dedication to a person or principle like children, nutrition, human rights, the environment, etc.? If you are committed to some purpose and that purpose is devotion to well-being and generosity, your inner drive will not let you alone until you quench that intention. Generosity is not limited to giving resources and assets but your time and your attention with the intention of aiding, with no expectation of reward except the act of giving in itself.
- Disassociation of the idea of exchanging money for work in favor of the idea of “giving is receiving”. There are many multi-millionaire humanitarians but the above list of renown humanitarians proves that you don´t have to have a lot of money to help the world. Be a positive thinker not a positive thinger!
- Postulates of Gandhi´s quote “be the change you want to see in the world”. This quote embodies the idea of responsibility. It is a rather radical thought but it is gaining foothold: we are the source of everything that comes into our awareness and as the source we have the power to change it by changing our own world view. Humanities biggest false premise is the belief that I am here and you are out there.
- This point can be summarized with the phrase “less is more” and it contains the concepts of low-maintenance and quest for sustainability. Non-profit sustainability is by nature connected with doing more with less but the idea that less is more is slightly different. From its origin by the famous modern furniture designer, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969), it embodies the idea that less complicated is often better understood and more appreciated than what is more complicated. Volunteers with low-maintenance mentalities are fast adapters as well.
- Compassion or loving-kindness is the will and intent that all living beings be free from suffering. The idea serves us as a catalyst to lessen pain and improve well-being of others. On a grander scale it has also a prophylactic against causing hurt. In general with a focus on compassion, volunteers help people’s lives grow happier and more peaceful, and assist them and themselves in finding true fulfillment.
List of some organizations where we have placed in the past:
- ACNUR (Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados) – Spain. Protects and supports refugees and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.
- ACSUR Segovias (Asociación para la Cooperación con el Sur) – Spain. A non-governmental organisation for development which concentrates on the southern part of the globe, especially southern countries in America.
- Aldeas Infantiles – Spain. Aldeas Infantiles SOS is an international, non-profit, private organization working in 133 countries to help children until they become independent adults.
- Amigos de la Tierra – Spain. Amigos de la Tierra Spain foments local and global change toward more respectful, just and solidary society with the natural environment. It works in areas such as climatic and energetic change, natural resources and residues, agriculture and food and cooperation.
- Amnesty International – Spain, Brussels, Russia, Thailand. A global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.
- CARE – Thailand and Brussels. CARE is one of the world’s largest private international humanitarian organizations, committed to helping families in poor communities improve their lives and achieve lasting victories over poverty. Founded in 1945 to provide relief to survivors of World War II, CARE quickly became a trusted vehicle for the compassion and generosity of millions.
- Caritas – Brussels. Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations working to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed, in over 200 countries and territories.
- Doctors Without Borders – Spain, Brussels, Russia. Doctors Without Borders delivers medical help to populations endangered by war, civil strife, epidemics or natural disasters. Each year over 2,000 volunteer doctors representing 45 nationalities work worldwide in front-line hospitals, refugee camps, disaster sites, towns and villages providing primary health care, performing surgery, vaccinating children, operating emergency nutrition and sanitation programs and training local medical staff.
- European Woman´s Lobby – Brussels. Promotes human rights, equality, peace and solidarity, in Europe and globally, where women and men have equal rights, full enjoyment of their personal integrity and choice, an equal share of social, cultural and economic resources, caring and family roles, and are equally represented in decision making.
- Refugees International – Thailand. Refugees International generates lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection for displaced people around the world and works to end the conditions that create displacement. Refugees International advocates for refugees through diplomacy and the press.
- Save the Children – Spain, Brussels, Thailand. Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating real and lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. It is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, comprising 27 national Save the Children organizations working in more than 100 countries to ensure the well-being of children. Save the Children responds to any emergency that puts at great risk the survival, protection, and well-being of significant numbers of children, where addressing the needs and well-being of those children is beyond the indigenous coping capacity, and where Save the Children is able to mobilize the financial and human resources to take urgent action on their behalf.
- UNICEF – Spain, Thailand, Brussels, Russia. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations Program that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.
- World Wildlife Federation – Brussels, Thailand, Spain. Endangered species conservation.