- written by Anisha Niyas
There are four things I have learned through my years of volunteering – learn, understand, create and participate. It is fundamental to go into volunteering with an open mind, a willingness to truly listen and know that there is a lot to learn and none of that ties into how much money we may have. It comes down to understanding. Just because we are better off or have more money, that doesn’t make us smarter. It only makes us blind to the fact that before giving, we need to understand the communities we are reaching out to help.
A dependency on fixing needs with resources falls short because we have failed to understand what well- being is and how it is created. It is only once we have understood that concept, are we truly able to create projects and initiatives that are far reaching. It is only then is we able to inspire others to participate in making a difference.
There is volunteering and doing charity for the sake of it, whatever end goals you may have and there is doing it in a manner where the focus is on the act and having that come from a place of compassion and kindness. It is a subtle difference, albeit noticeable. Whatever we do, however small we believe that act is, it has a ripple effect and does go a long way. Whether it is a personal act of kindness or a group driven effort, the end result is the same – you make a difference to someone out there.
Happiness should come from that knowledge, that you helped someone in a way that is selfless…whether it is a kind word to a neighbor, a hug to a friend that needs it, to feeding a dog or cat on the street or buying a milk packet and handing it to the beggar who stands there with a child. It could even be spending time at an orphanage or serving dinner at an elder’s home. All those things are directly tied into wellbeing, of which we will not understand unless we truly listen. We can give material good to people in need of that, but that doesn’t mean a thing if you also aren’t able to emotionally connect and bond with the people you give it to.
When it comes down to it, it is not about the money or the proverbial photograph you take at the end, not even about the accolades and recognition society may give you. It is the time you spend with people that matters. Trust me when I say that time you take out of your life will enrich you in ways that you could never imagine. It gives you greater awareness, greater purpose and more than that, greater perspective – of how we are connected to one another and how another person’s happiness is deeply connected to our own. That is something no classroom can teach you. If you take the time to care, true happiness and understanding will come from the heart