Preparing For Change

Ever since I have shared my volunteering endeavor with people, I have been bombarded with all kinds of questions. Some questions aimed to discourage me while the rest mainly affirmed my plans about making that famous dent.

In the beginning, I was irritated but the more I thought about the questions, the more it allowed me to carefully sift through my plans. Most of the questions raised were questions that I never bothered thinking about. Can you really survive on your allowance only? Will you be able to stay put long enough (as required in your contract) in one place without travelling? Are you strong enough not to break in Africa? Is this really what you want?

I admit that the questions nagged me for days and that was why I was so thankful when VSO scheduled me for the Preparing For Change workshop – a workshop that the staff referred to as a volunteer’s discernment stage.

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You see, volunteering is not just about fun and games, nor is it all about travelling to another place and meeting new people. These, however, can be considered a portion of the whole experience; but a portion as your motivation will not take you far enough to finish that contract or far enough to really make a permanent difference in people’s lives.

You have to have a bigger reason for volunteering because there are a lot of things at stake the moment you get on board. It is not just about you anymore. It is about making a difference to the way other people work, it is about dedicating your time and skills to fight for causes beyond the personal spectrum, it is about the organization that vouched for your capacity to aid those who are in the toughest circumstances. You have to ask yourself questions again. You have to weigh your concerns and needs. You have to make a thorough self-assessment before you take that leap.

expectations and concerns

This is mainly why workshops like the one that I recently attended are very important in setting the volunteers’ expectations. The PFC or Preparing For Change workshop gave each volunteer the opportunity to think his or her decision over at the same time, to discuss it with co-volunteers and the staff.

What I appreciated the most about the workshop was the honesty attached to it. I liked how the organization showed both sides of the coin. VSO did not just focus on the good side of volunteering but also showed the other aspect of the volunteering reality.

A reality that bluntly narrates notions like “Yes, accommodation will be covered and you will only receive an allowance that will suffice for your basic need. No, it’s not some fancy unit; in fact it may be some dilapidated shack with lions and leopards roaring at night.” Or, “Yes, you are at high-risk to malaria and other tropical diseases.”

PFC discussion

For some, that kind of brutal honesty was an eye-opener; while for others, it simply confirmed what they initially supposed. How ever the initial reaction was, everyone’s commitment to continue treading on the volunteering path was strengthened and this affirmation was what I always looked forward to at the end of the day.

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It is one thing to tread a path on your own and it is another if you tread a certain path with people who share the same passion. In this case, the PFC was a great avenue to convene with those who believe in the same cause that you fight for and I am grateful to organizations like VSO for making ways to put people together in aiding those who need assistance the most.

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Comments

  1. Hi Den. Share ko tong entry mo sa facebook ko ha 🙂

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