Promoting Youth Volunteerism For National Development

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Volunteerism is globally acknowledged as a tool for promoting systemic change in the society.

Analysts believe that volunteerism is a two-way phenomenon, as it enables the volunteers to spur change in others, while their own lives are transformed via the act of volunteering.

The United Nations (UN), in recognition of the importance of volunteerism, declared Dec. 5 of every year as the International Volunteer Day.

The theme for the 2013 International Volunteer Day was “Youth Volunteering for a Better World”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in his message on the day, said that there were 1.2 billion youths in the world today with incredible potential to tackle challenges and act as agents of change.

“When young people volunteer, the opportunity provides them with valuable life and job skills; it strengthens their capacity to lead and become engaged in their communities and global society.

“Volunteerism is a two-way street. Even as volunteers help generate positive change for others; their own lives are often transformed by the act of volunteering itself,’’ he said.

Sharing similar sentiments, Hajiya Amina Abdullahi, the Director of Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS), urged young Nigerians to inculcate the habit of volunteerism so as to stimulate the country’s development.

“Money is not everything; volunteerism is the willingness to be involved in community development. If the youth are engaged in volunteerism, it will go a long way in making the country a better place.

“Youth volunteerism also provides skills and opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship.

“The youth can identify ways of building their own community positively as a way of contributing their quota to the growth of the society.

“We want to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism into the Nigerian youth because volunteerism has to come from within the people’s minds; volunteerism itself is service to humanity.

“If in between the youth get little stipend, fine; but if not, they get satisfaction in their heart that they have contributed to the improvement of the people’s lives,’’ she said.

Abdullahi said that volunteerism could be in the area of providing services, teaching skills, traffic control and advocacy for HIV/AIDS as well as climate change, among others.

Analysts draw attention to the recent action of Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State as a demonstration of a society that appreciates volunteerism.

The governor offered employment to three persons, including two physically challenged persons, as traffic wardens.

The two physically challenged persons, before their employment, voluntarily controlled traffic in the Marina axis of Lagos without payment.

Announcing the offer, Fashola said: “They have been directing traffic in Lagos without reward for years, but their story will change from today.

“Today, we are engaging them with rewards. We will keep them at the post where they have served faithfully, and they will continue to do what they have done for years.

“We believe that they have done all these because of the passion they have for the job. The Head of Service will issue them their letters of employment,’’ Fashola said.

Analysts, nonetheless, attribute the low level of volunteerism in the country to economic hardship.

Mr Cyril Ofili, a Management Consultant in Work Ethics, said that volunteerism was a satisfying activity in European and American countries.

He, however, noted that the situation was not the same in Nigeria because of the economic hardship facing most citizens.

“Every Nigerian wants to do something for something because if you go out to do volunteer work and you return home hungry, nobody looks at you.

“In the midst of unemployment, it is difficult for the youth to render volunteer services with empty stomach, but in ideal societies, a volunteer can survive without having to beg for food.

“When people are deprived in a society, it is the origin of self-centredness because everybody struggles to eke out a living; they look up for assistance and there is no help from anywhere.

“When people do not enjoy those things that they should naturally enjoy as citizens, when they struggle to fend for themselves because nobody cares for them; that is the beginning of individualism.

“Let leaders begin to think less about themselves and more about the people. When the government addresses the problems of the people with the resources of the nation, the citizens will always be ready and willing to serve the country,” Ofili said.

All the same, Abdullahi said that the NNVS had embarked on various activities to encourage Nigerians to render voluntary services.

“Government has a role to play. That is why NNVS has the mandate to promote and encourage the spirit of volunteerism among Nigerians.

“The youth are the leaders of tomorrow and that is why we want to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism into them so that they will grow up with it.

“Even if they have white-collar jobs, they can set aside a percentage of their salary to carry out voluntary services as part-time hobbies,” she said.

Nevertheless, Ofili advised the country’s leaders to imbibe the virtues of selfless service, patriotism and honesty so as to encourage the citizens, particularly the youth, to adopt volunteerism.

“In Europe and America, every citizen is accommodated in government plans, as an individual and the smallest person is known by the government and planned for.

“You can go to the supermarket with your trolley, fill it with goods and give a cheque to the person at the counter.

“This is because some people are reasonable enough to know that you ought to live as they are living; they have calculated how much you need to survive in a week or month as a human being and planned for it.

“Some time ago in France, the producers of Bournvita wanted to increase its price but the government said that workers would not be able to purchase it unless each worker’s salary is increased by the margin with which Bournvita would increase the price.

“The price of Bournvita could not be increased until after three months when the government added the margin to people’s salaries. That is where people care for others.

“In such situation, if you talk of volunteerism, people will be eager and interested in participating in it,’’ Ofili added.

Mr Dare Atoye, the Executive Director of Adopt a Goal for Development Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, underscored the need for Nigeria to adopt a purposeful goal which would lead to a total overhaul of the ways the citizens were doing things.

“As a country, we must develop areas where we have a comparative advantage; as individuals, we must look at our positive attributes and see how we can use them to effect a change in our society.

“We must learn to share with others; we should not be self-centred. The general idea in our society today is that when someone donates money, the problems are solved.

“But the solution to problems is the same as it has always been — people helping other people. You cannot become successful without sharing your resources with others.

“The U.S. is, perhaps, the greatest country in the world but the fact is that individuals, and not the U.S. government, spearheaded America’s development.

“If Nigeria must be one of the greatest countries in the world, the citizens must make concerted efforts to build the country and preserve it for future generations.

“So, let us all begin to do the right thing now,’’ he added.

Volunteerism is globally acknowledged as a tool for promoting systemic change in the society.

Analysts believe that volunteerism is a two-way phenomenon, as it enables the volunteers to spur change in others, while their own lives are transformed via the act of volunteering.

The United Nations (UN), in recognition of the importance of volunteerism, declared Dec. 5 of every year as the International Volunteer Day.

The theme for the 2013 International Volunteer Day was “Youth Volunteering for a Better World”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in his message on the day, said that there were 1.2 billion youths in the world today with incredible potential to tackle challenges and act as agents of change.

“When young people volunteer, the opportunity provides them with valuable life and job skills; it strengthens their capacity to lead and become engaged in their communities and global society.

“Volunteerism is a two-way street. Even as volunteers help generate positive change for others; their own lives are often transformed by the act of volunteering itself,’’ he said.

Sharing similar sentiments, Hajiya Amina Abdullahi, the Director of Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS), urged young Nigerians to inculcate the habit of volunteerism so as to stimulate the country’s development.

“Money is not everything; volunteerism is the willingness to be involved in community development. If the youth are engaged in volunteerism, it will go a long way in making the country a better place.

“Youth volunteerism also provides skills and opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship.

“The youth can identify ways of building their own community positively as a way of contributing their quota to the growth of the society.

“We want to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism into the Nigerian youth because volunteerism has to come from within the people’s minds; volunteerism itself is service to humanity.

keep them at the post where they have served faithfully, and they will continue to do what they have done for years.

“We believe that they have done all these because of the passion they have for the job. The Head of Service will issue them their letters of employment,’’ Fashola said.

Analysts, nonetheless, attribute the low level of volunteerism in the country to economic hardship.

Mr Cyril Ofili, a Management Consultant in Work Ethics, said that volunteerism was a satisfying activity in European and American countries.

He, however, noted that the situation was not the same in Nigeria because of the economic hardship facing most citizens.

“Every Nigerian wants to do something for something because if you go out to do volunteer work and you return home hungry, nobody looks at you.

“In the midst of unemployment, it is difficult for the youth to render volunteer services with empty stomach, but in ideal societies, a volunteer can survive without having to beg for food.

“When people are deprived in a society, it is the origin of self-centredness because everybody struggles to eke out a living; they look up for assistance and there is no help from anywhere.

“When people do not enjoy those things that they should naturally enjoy as citizens, when they struggle to fend for themselves because nobody cares for them; that is the beginning of individualism.

“Let leaders begin to think less about themselves and more about the people. When the government addresses the problems of the people with the resources of the nation, the citizens will always be ready and willing to serve the country,” Ofili said.

All the same, Abdullahi said that the NNVS had embarked on various activities to encourage Nigerians to render voluntary services.

“Government has a role to play. That is why NNVS has the mandate to promote and encourage the spirit of volunteerism among Nigerians.

“The youth are the leaders of tomorrow and that is why we want to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism into them so that they will grow up with it.

“Even if they have white-collar jobs, they can set aside a percentage of their salary to carry out voluntary services as part-time hobbies,” she said.

Nevertheless, Ofili advised the country’s leaders to imbibe the virtues of selfless service, patriotism and honesty so as to encourage the citizens, particularly the youth, to adopt volunteerism.

“In Europe and America, every citizen is accommodated in government plans, as an individual and the smallest person is known by the government and planned for.

“You can go to the supermarket with your trolley, fill it with goods and give a cheque to the person at the counter.

“This is because some people are reasonable enough to know that you ought to live as they are living; they have calculated how much you need to survive in a week or month as a human being and planned for it.

“Some time ago in France, the producers of Bournvita wanted to increase its price but the government said that workers would not be able to purchase it unless each worker’s salary is increased by the margin with which Bournvita would increase the price.

“The price of Bournvita could not be increased until after three months when the government added the margin to people’s salaries. That is where people care for others.

“In such situation, if you talk of volunteerism, people will be eager and interested in participating in it,’’ Ofili added.

Mr Dare Atoye, the Executive Director of Adopt a Goal for Development Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, underscored the need for Nigeria to adopt a purposeful goal which would lead to a total overhaul of the ways the citizens were doing things.

“As a country, we must develop areas where we have a comparative advantage; as individuals, we must look at our positive attributes and see how we can use them to effect a change in our society.

“We must learn to share with others; we should not be self-centred. The general idea in our society today is that when someone donates money, the problems are solved.

“But the solution to problems is the same as it has always been  people helping other people. You cannot become successful without sharing your resources with others.

“The U.S. is, perhaps, the greatest country in the world but the fact is that individuals, and not the U.S. government, spearheaded America’s development.

“If Nigeria must be one of the greatest countries in the world, the citizens must make concerted efforts to build the country and preserve it for future generations.

** If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

 

Prudence Arobani

Programme Analyst, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Tochie Odele (right), addressing youths during a Town Hall meeting in Abuja recently.
Programme Analyst, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Tochie Odele (right), addressing youths during a Town Hall meeting in Abuja recently.

Prudence Arobani