It has no financial benefits, but volunteering still is the greatest and most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life.
I had just graduated from university. I went back home with nothing to get back to. I sent a pool of internship and job application letters, but got no response. All I did during this time was watch TV and get on social media. Unhealthy right? I know. I never really got up to anything productive and I had no idea what to do with my time besides wasting it on social media.
Well, my time on social media did lead to a good thing eventually. I came across an advert on Facebook. It was a call for volunteers to fill vacant positions in an organization’s Publicity and Communications team. Communications is my specialty, so it seemed a perfect opportunity to try out. I did not waste time, I applied that instant – I was super excited. Moreover, the application period was going to close in a few hours – I hit the submit button just right on time.
I received an invitation to a Skype interview a few weeks later. I remember how nervous I felt on my interview day. I had not received a single call for interviews from my pool of job applications so this was my first interview ever. I was so nervous, till date, I can’t remember any of the things I said during that interview – oops!
Well, forget the nerves, I did get a place in the organization. Unexpected right? I wasn’t hopeful either. That is how my volunteering journey began. I was recruited as a Social Media and External Media team member for Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA). YALDA is a youth organization that mainly focuses on capacity development for African youth.
I was not sure if I was going to do a good job there, but one thing was for sure, I was happy to join the organization and I was eager to learn and perfect my skills to fit the roles that had been assigned to me. My responsibilities included social media content creation, engagement and research.
I have been very committed to my work and it’s really rewarding to see how much impact I’ve created through digital activism.
On this volunteering journey, I have met inspiring young people who have motivated me to work hard and have made new friends who have helped me grow – simply said, it’s been a life-changing journey.
Volunteering has undoubtedly given me a new life. I grew up in a small town with very little opportunities for youth. I could watch young people do unproductive things engage in illicit activities and just waste a lot of time on invaluable things. Those that tried to make good out of their lives hardly made it – they would bitterly complain to the government for not creating opportunities for them to better their lives. I, therefore, also grew up thinking “if the government does not do anything, nothing can be done”. I didn’t know that through voluntary work, young people could engage in activities that can improve the lives of the people in their communities.
I have learned a lot at YALDA and I have also empowered other young people on the African continent and abroad to take action towards finding solutions to some of the greatest problems faced by the world.
I have gained a lot of confidence in myself too and I am always meeting new people from all over Africa and the globe. Through volunteering, I had an opportunity to travel to a country very far from home, where I met high profile people, young leaders, academicians, researchers and many other people that have added value to my network.
Volunteering has given me a sense of purpose and has helped shape me for my dream career. Many people see how committed I am to my activities and ask if I get paid for the work so they too can join. They are quick to turn away when they hear that there’s no pay. This has shown me how little people know about the benefits of volunteering.
I do not get any money from volunteering, but I get a lot of other things of it. Instead of lazing around like I used to, volunteering always gives me something to look forward to and it’s fulfilling to know how many young people I have inspired through my work.
Life is about giving and receiving. Well, I have done a lot of receiving and have had little to give. Through volunteering however, I am giving back to the world in more ways than you know. This helps me feel positive and with each voluntary act, I am more convinced that the world will be a better place if more people get on the volunteerism bus and drive towards changing the world for the good of all.
The world is currently facing a lot of problems and volunteering can go a long way in helping solve most of the problems. I have seen and lived the beauty of volunteering. It has not only changed my life but also the lives of those around me for the better.
Until my last breath or until the world is a better place, I will be committed to volunteer work. Everyone in the globe deserves a decent life and this small-town girl has global dreams – I’m on a journey to change the world. Come journey with me?
Author: Abinaidah Chaseba
Editor: Tomica Stojanovikj