Nowadays, volunteering has become a good opportunity to develop different skills, and getting involved with communities in need that bring us the chance to get an experience that has an impact in our souls…and in our health. According with Stephen G. Post, PhD, “is good to be good” due to the benefits of helping others. There are more than 50 researchs with different methologies that have demonstrate how volunteering brings benefits that go from longevity in older adults, the reduce of addictions (in the case of alcoholics) to the diminution of chronic pain and emotional problems such as depression. So, when you help others you help yourself as well (Post, 2011).
Social service in Morocco, Techo Colombia volunteers, volunteers in Perú.
However, researches note that even when volunteering brings great benefits it’s important to take into account the proportion, because the phrase “the more one gives the better one feels” doesn’t apply to this activity, because there’s a point where the benefits stop, and problems like stress and fatigue start. Therefore, non professional volunteers can involve in community service projects, but with manageable thresholds.
I had the opportunity of volunteering in countries like Brazil and in my homeland Colombia, with children and elder people. How did that change me? I start from the point of the self satisfaction that I got from serve others and interact with hearts that are happy with the most simple things inviting me to do it as well.
Here I mention 10 of the benefits that volunteering may bring to your life:
1. You have the chance of making the difference
You contribute with your abilities to change situations
2. You learn
You not only learn how to treat others in special situations, but also you get leadership, empathy, and teamwork skills.
3. It encourages in you civic responsability
Volunteering changes you and awakes that part of you that fights for justice and equity.
4. You get happier
Alejandra Gómez, coordinator of a volunteer group of peace education for children in Bogota, catalogues this experience as the fuel of her life, because for her, people find hapiness through the smiles caused in others. That’s how she fulfill herself with the satisfaction of helping people.
5. You gain experience
Volunteering it’s about teamwork, and nowadays, in every job you have to work with more people. Therefore, you learn how to treat, work and listen the counterparts.
6. You meet new people
As I said before, you will have the chance of work with people with similar interests.You have the chance to increase your network.
7. You help to save resources
Yes, resources that can be use in more projects for the community.
8. You strenghten your independence
Because you have to act according to the situation and the tools that you have. So, you have the opportunity of getting out of the box.
9. You get more aware of the reality of millions of people
To quote some of the problems that the world faces: according to the United Nations Development Programme, 2.300 millions of people live with less than USD 2 per day; 30.000 children die of hungry a day and 500.000 of women die during the pregnancy or in the birth labour a year.
10. It’s a great distraction
It can help you to forget struggles in your life… like heartbreaks! I am a witness of it.
There are many opportunities to volunteer, you can pay for them going abroad, or you can do it in your own city , even in your own neighbourhood for free. These opportunities are offered by different non- profit organizations (Techo, Aiesec, Redcross to quote some). However, if you want to do something different, you can start your own iniciative, because that’s how most of organizations started in this world, and changed it.
As the poet Khalil Gibran said: “You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
Post, S. (2011). It’s good to be good: 2011 5th annual scientific report on health, happiness and helping others
United Nations Development Programme. (n.d). Facts and figures on poverty. Recovered from http://www.teamstoendpoverty.org/wq_pages/en/visages/chiffres.php
By Jessica Johanna Rodríguez