Article in brief: Are monetary donations more beneficial than volunteerism? Omar Al Owais explores.
Ihsan, those familiar with the renowned Arab television program “Khawater”, presented by Ahmed Al Shugairi, will recognize it as the previous season’s motto.
Ihsan, an Arabic word literally means “to do good”- in deeper terms, it refers to dedication, loyalty, diligence and precision in what we do. Ihsan is a concept that I am very opinionated about, for it is our guide to live freely. If you act upon Ihsan, you act upon free will, passion and genuine care for others.
In our daily lives, as hectic as they may seem, Ihsan has many applications: the Ihsan I am referring to here is volunteerism. When volunteering emotional, physical and moral aid replaces the provision of monetary aid, it paints a bigger smile on the beneficiaries.
When seeing a poor man, though he may be in need of money, I believe that greeting and making it a habit to converse with him will draw a bigger smile on his face, than when you give him your spare change (this does not mean I am discouraging donating to the poor).
When hearing about a charity school that is in deteriorating condition, rather than hiring a company to do the repair work, how about organizing a group of volunteers to paint, repair and purchase the required materials? Don’t forget to do it with a smile, otherwise it will be no different than the work of laborers. Such acts resemble the unity of the local community and reinforce the feeling of togetherness amongst its people.
2015 has come upon us, and while many of us are in the process of writing our new year resolutions, it is recommended to include volunteerism amongst them, for the various benefits reaped from it on a personal, social and global level.
I wasn’t very passionate about volunteerism, to be quite frank. However, it being a compulsory activity under the International Baccalaureate system I was enrolled in last year, my view towards it changed drastically.
For one, my network of friends and acquaintances was refreshed with new faces – I’ve met people with the same interests and personalities as I based on the activities I’ve volunteered in.
I recall organizing events at school, such as author visits and bake sales for the common room. Though they did not relate to a charitable cause, it symbolized unity within the school community – the entire community comes together for a common cause, even if it just benefits a certain part of it. Looking back, successful events do wonders to one’s confidence and morale.
Particularly with event planning, skills such as time management, networking and taking initiatives are vital. Not only do they serve us in our current projects, but with repeated practice, they will eventually become our work habits and will assist us in our careers.
What really motivated me in the volunteering program was the fun and sense of fulfillment that came with it. Nothing was more fulfilling than spending our Saturdays at the old people’s home and the friendships formed with its residents that last to this day.
A couple of years back, in Khawater’s eighth season (aired in 2012); Ahmed Al Shugairi held several volunteering competitions in several Arab countries, to encourage this noble act. Al Shugairi believes that the youth have positive energy by default, but merely need a platform to exert this energy, hence the competition. The participations involved building a school in Africa, taking leave from work to treat patients in Africa who are far from medical aid, planting gardens on the roofs of Cairo’s buildings and awareness campaigns in Saudi Arabia.
Volunteerism is crucial, and should be done with diligence and sincerity. If it is done for the wrong reasons (hint: instagram spams), it will lose its essence and its value.
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