Letter of the week: Volunteerism an experience of gaining, not giving


Volunteerism in the eyes of many may mean sacrificing one’s time to do good or going out of one’s way to help others.

But to me, I think to volunteer is to examine what being human means.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, many organisations like the Boys’ Brigade and The Salvation Army have faced a manpower crunch, due to both the safe management measures and lack of volunteers coming forward.

The Individual Giving Study 2021 found that 22 per cent of Singapore residents volunteered in the past 12 months, down from 29 per cent in 2018.

With the hustle and bustle of work and school life in Singapore, people prioritise their own needs and wants, putting aside volunteering as something to be done only in their free time.

This kind of thinking naturally results in the perception of volunteerism as an act of sacrificing one’s time and efforts, magnifying the grandness of the intentions or actions.

This perception is ultimately incorrect and unhelpful, as the true essence of volunteering is simple: It encapsulates what being human really means.

Volunteering is an experience of gaining rather than giving – getting the chance to be exposed to the wider community and understand another person instead of constantly focusing on the “I”.

When people volunteer to help based on passion and a yearning to make a difference, they will begin to understand what it means to be human, and look beyond what they give.

Nico Le Si Min

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