Today’s young have managed to keep up with the fast changing times. With technology so pervasive these days, we are more connected than ever to our friends, our families, and even to the rest of the world. With this increased connection comes a stronger sense of awareness and concern for our surroundings and our community. Today’s youth is no longer naive and indifferent, nor is he a mere spectator in the sidelines. Instead, we are all becoming more responsive to the plight of our neighbors and are beginning to recognize our growing capacity to make a difference.
In recent times, we have seen more and more of our Filipino youth rise to the challenge of confronting various social issues. Who would have thought that a status message on Facebook would eventually lead to the birth of the Yellow Boat Project – an organization that currently helps hundreds of rural children get to school safely, by providing their communities with boats? Who would have imagined that the idea of a kariton classroom for street children, while simple, will be embraced by the country and the world? Looking at these successful examples, one can’t help but think – what makes the young effective at effecting change?
Because we start small, but we dream big
I feel that young people perceive and deal with problems differently. Call it inexperience or maybe even idealism, but our strong optimism can be good at times, because it allows us to focus on possibilities, rather than the barriers (which may be many) in addressing a social need. It does not mean that we do not realize how daunting the task can be, but we do recognize that change has to start somewhere, even from the smallest of things.
It is in our local communities, in our respective schools, and in our own work places that volunteerism and service among the youth thrives. I believe that these efforts are effective, because we focus on what we have – what we can work with, often, what we are good at – and from there, think of ways on how we can use it to help others. If you are good in computers – then you may want to impart your knowledge to public school teachers and help them create better learning materials for their students. If you are good in drawing, why not share your talents by organizing art classes where you can see children express themselves through their art works? If you are a passionate baker, then you may want to sell your delicious creations to raise funds for a pet organization.
All these simple ideas feed off the young’s energy and creativity at working a problem. In time, these small projects prove to be quite a success that others begin to follow suit. Eventually, these plans and efforts result to farther reach and even bigger and bigger impact, which leads to the next strength of youth volunteerism…
We believe in the power of many
Networking is our expertise. We are forever connected with our friends through our phones, our computers, and through various social media. We are not shy about using these tools to share news and information, and even our occasional points of view. These tools often serve as an effective way to involve our friends in many calls to action.
Being young, we often have limited resources to proceed with social projects on our own. However, when friends pull together their individual resources, we quickly discover that we have enough to get things started. With the young, it is not important who thought of the idea. Rather, it is more important how an idea is given life. Social projects often have a lot of components that it is almost guaranteed that each individual has something to offer as a contribution. These individual contributions help propel faster and more relevant impact to those in need. It is these individual contributions that also help propel more contributions to come in.
Volunteerism is a mutual exchange
The youth is effective at effecting change, because volunteerism ultimately changes a volunteer. Service to others is not a one-way street, but a mutual exchange, that results to having both sides deeply enriched by the experience. For the beneficiaries, service means that their needs are addressed and that they enjoy an improved way of life. Meanwhile, for the volunteer, the experience gives us more confidence, teaches us responsibility, and helps us find a sense of purpose.
The young stand to learn a lot from volunteering. From making new friends, to planning and organizing, to influencing others to support a worthy cause, each of us is bound to improve many skills and even build a better character as a result of these experiences. In the end, volunteerism helps produce leaders that are thoughtful, charismatic and action-oriented. Service to others wants to produce individuals empowered and involved, and who are full of hope for the country and for its people.
P.S. Do not know where to start? Visit and sign up through our iVolunteer website at http://www.ivolunteer.com.ph for an updated list of active and future volunteer opportunities. Invite your friends and start making that step towards a better future, a better Philippines! See you around!
by Hazel Dianne Javier, Director of Finance, Internals & Organizational Development