Each year on December 5th we celebrate the International Volunteer Day, which “is a chance for volunteer-involving organizations and individual volunteers to promote their contributions to development at local, national and international levels”, according to the United Nations Organisation; and a day which especially remembers those activities and initiatives that promote a positive transformation of society.
Therefore, it is a day to celebrate and acknowledge the work of millions of people that decide to relinquish an economic reward for a job – that could be more or less demanding, or require a greater or lower level of commitment – that has an impact in several areas and levels. Examples are countless: from volunteer firefighters up to neighbourhood associations, passing through student organisations like the SABF. Why is volunteering so important?
On several organisations, the job of a volunteer takes up most of its action capacity. Why? Firstly, the resources needed to achieve their goals (generally too high), cannot be satisfied with their economic capacities (generally too low). Besides, this economic capacity is not a result of their productivity (because they don’t generate profit, they depend on the resources provided by outsiders). Moreover, even with all the resources, this kind of goals usually drive people to be united by a cause without wanting more than the mere satisfaction of having collaborated. On their way, of course, they take up responsibilities, make decisions, learn different topics and processes that – in any other way – they would have never even imagined.
The presence of volunteers, sometimes, states the necessity that other social actors get involved in solutions for which they are not being held responsible. This way, volunteers give scholar support to kids from the ghetto whose teachers are on strike; or voluntary engineers design projects to make life easier to those who live in forgotten (or unapproachable) places; or voluntary music teachers that take art to places in shortage and that are not a priority of the public agenda.
He who is a volunteer has the confidence of knowing that what he does, he does with the best of intentions: moved by passion, love, service. Devoted to whichever: a social cause, a project, a proposal, or even a sole person.
In hundreds of places the presence of a volunteer guarantees a non-selfish job, which mainly seeks the achievement of a given goal. It is reassuring in societies where so many things are done to cover up such unworthy goals, shared by few, or no people. But, besides, it can be proven that the challenging actions we perform, aligned with our moral values, are the ones that we are most efficient on. This video proves it. The economic reward, no doubt, moves us to action; but it is not what leads us to become the best that we can.
The TED Talk given by Daniel Cerezo, on the last edition of TEDxRiodelaPlata, gives the clues to the importance of carrying out these types of actions. The speaker was able to break several barriers thanks to the presence of an uninterested stranger. Volunteering is a space to develop leaders and catalysts of change, self and external change. Therefore, under my perspective, a unique chance to admit oneself into a diversity and bet for equal opportunities for all.