Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Volunteer..... because you want to. (Part 1)

Volunteerism comes in different forms. The act itself stems from varying objectives and definitely surrounding people of many unique backgrounds. But the one thing that is clear is that a volunteer project comes from the heart first.

I had that calling a couple of years back and boy was it an eye-opening experience... one that I will never forget... in fact, one i never want to forget. The memories are special and etched in my mind like it was just yesterday.

A few friends and I got round to form a group to offer introductory reading and literacy programme for underprivileged children from a non-profit organization. Suffice to say, the first step forward in this initiative wasn't exactly inviting nor was it smooth sailing. 

"FREE?" The man across the table asked. "Why?" His sceptism must've been a clear indication of what seemed like a wet blanket conversation starter. I hate him already... I thought to myself. But I understood why much later... and don't blame him for my unfriendly first encounter towards volunteerism.

The girls and I brought our portfolios and pitched our idea for a volunteer project for this non-profit organization. We came to know that the estate had many children who were underprivileged and many from dysfunctional families.

Fast forward 6 months later... YES... 6 long months of back and forth discussion! A member of a new-formed committee for this project had had enough and wanted to back out. Yup, just pull the plug. 

His stand. These children need help, yes. These children need hope, yes. But it is not fair to keep them waiting indefinitely for this glimmer of hope that was earlier promised to them. That got them excited. That got them hopeful. A hope that they are not forgotten by people within the community who were looking to give back.. people who cared enough to look out for them.. It's just a yes or a no. Since it (the project) appeared to lean more to a no, he will be the bad guy to convey the message across and bring the thought-out plans to a close. He then added, "It won't be my first time. It won't be OUR first time."

Those words he texted after our umpteenth discussion cut deep. Too deep. I couldn't sleep. 

The issue. What else.. funding. Let's call him Bro. Bro decided he would go ahead with it either with other trainers he could find or do it himself if he had to. He could not disappoint the children. How could he? He knocked door to door... of about maybe 20 to 25 homes? To talk to them, to interest them to come out of their shell, to coax them that it is all for the children and nothing else.

The expression that reads...

You can lead a horse to water, 

but you can't make it drink.

....... cannot ring more true than what my friends and I experienced during our stint with these children... with their families... No way to separate the two. They may be underprivileged but people, like horses, will only do what they have a mind to do.

Long story short, bro, my friends and I; went ahead with our initiative... pouring in what limited funding we have from our own *SAHM pockets (*Stay-At-Home-Moms), unlimited resources from our teaching days, perseverance and ALL the LOVE in our hearts, where our journey began towards our volunteer initiative.

It was to be a project where we were supposed to teach them but instead, THEY... (all of them!)... taught US instead... and we thank them for it from the bottom of our hearts.

Follow our story...

*to be continued*

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