This coming week South Africans will be celebrating Mandela Day on Thursday, 18 July. It is a day where everyone makes an extra effort to volunteer time and effort to improve some aspect of our communities and by extension our country. Celebrated on Nelson Mandela’s birthday in memory of the 67 years of his life he gave in service of humanity, it is also an exceptional way to honour an international icon who was the most liberating and most unifying leader in our country’s history.
South Africans often debate the effectiveness of volunteering on this day and of volunteering in general. Historically, we do not have a strong volunteering culture in the purest sense of the word. It is, however, growing stronger and I think Mandela Day gets us thinking, talking and doing and, as a result, to the change we envision.
Your country may have a stronger or weaker volunteering culture but, in this blog, I hope to inspire you to volunteer somewhere, somehow soon.
I have been volunteering with Africa Food for Thought for more than a decade now. At AFFT we work for the food security of children to enable them to study better and more. The impact of this organisation on more than 18 000 children is huge and I hope to tell you more about AFFT in a future blog. In this one, I want to share with you the personal benefit I have derived from volunteering.
People will join anything from skydiving to stamp-collecting clubs for a sense of belonging and lasting friendships. I’m not knocking any of those activities, but I want to say: The greatest people I have met over the years, and I have met the most amazing people, have been at Africa Food for Thought. The friends that have filled my days with the most joy and added the most value to my life are the ones with whom I have served somewhere, somehow.
Fill your life with quality people. You will find them volunteering somewhere.
Do you remember the last time you heard of a huge donation to some non-profit organisation aimed at helping them pay salaries? Or how deeply you were moved by a fund-raising campaign for staff bonuses for a charity?
This does not happen and as a result, when you join such a team as a volunteer, it is all-hands-on-deck. You will do new things, strange things, difficult things and awkward things. As a result, you will develop new skills and become better at others and all this while doing good. Young people often want to improve their resumes by taking a course to earn a piece of paper. I think volunteering is even better and you may discover surprising things about yourself as you get busy doing things.
You will learn more about God in one year of serving than in five years of Bible School. And the Bible School who do not mobilise students to serve should be closed.
The person who tries to preserve his life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for me will preserve it. (Mat 10:39 GW)
I have had the privilege to encounter many heroes of the Christian faith over the years. The giants among them I have found serving a child who will not remember their name or face but will never forget their heart.
It is a truly amazing experience to get involved in a project that touches people’s hearts mobilising them to contribute in varied ways to its success. People’s generosity of spirit is humbling and beautiful.
It is even more amazing to get involved in a project that touches God’s heart. His love and generosity are beautiful to behold.
At Africa Food for Thought, we have this privilege and the miracles we experience never fails to take our breath away. If you live in a world where God is inactive, you should come and volunteer with us. Yes, the need is overwhelming. And yes, you may want to ask where God is in all of this. That is until you see His response. I am saddened by people who so effectively isolate themselves from the needs in their communities that they isolate themselves from the miracles we see all the time.
You should volunteer!
A volunteer is someone who gives time, effort and skill for no remuneration. Yeah, right… I strongly disagree!
(Your comments will be welcomed and treasured, even if you disagree. Quite possibly you can add something of value. Please be bold and free to do so. I would love it if you were to add your voice here to encourage volunteerism.
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