Volunteer Stories

Concept of National Volunteering Week

 

Concept of National Volunteering Week

 

Even though volunteerism plays such an important role in a nation’s progress, due importance and recognition to the volunteers is still lacking, while millions of volunteers who are engaged with the voluntary sector to provide their valuable support need more encouragement. Despite very large number of Indians doing selfless service, many more need to join hands.

 

Countries around the world have National Volunteering Programs & Weeks to support individuals as well as organizations of all sizes and mandates. Volunteer Weeks in USA, England, Australia and Canada support all efforts to recognize and celebrate the great contributions of community volunteers. Volunteering Days like the Sewa Day originating in UK (which takes up the concept of Sewa embedded in Indian traditions), and the International Volunteering Day (5th December) offer an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions and co-opt others in their work.

 

India too needs her own National Volunteering Week – a week where millions of Indians can celebrate the virtue of selfless service and share their common purpose to make India a developed, inclusive and progressive nation, that has much to offer to the world. This week will unite the nation in its spirits, its intentions and most importantly in its commitment to engage Indians from all walks of life in celebrating, initiating and expanding the act of service for the common good.

 

This initiative is being driven by India@75, a grass roots and path breaking initiative for realising the dream of an inclusive, sustainable and developed India by the year 2022, when India completes 75 years of Independence. India@75 seeks to bring together various stakeholders from industry, academia, community groups, governments and individuals to translate this vision into a reality.

Relevance of Volunteering

 

Relevance of Volunteering

 

“Daanam” (as mentioned in the Upanishads) or the spirit of volunteerism is very much part of the Indian civilization, culture and history. Concepts of volunteerism such as “Nishkam Karma” (self-less or desire less action) among Hindus, “Kar Seva” (voluntary labour for the common good) among Sikhs, and “Zakat” (alms-giving) among Muslims, are examples of volunteering practiced in different religions in India. Therefore, it is evident that the spirit of giving and sharing runs in the genetic code of many Indians, through generations of traditions and customs which nurture & practice volunteerism.

 

The Salt Satyagrah, Quit India Movement and Chipko Movement have all been the much talked about examples of voluntary acts of groups of people towards a cause. But India also has the lessor known examples such as Mohammed Saif, from Kerala, who is changing lives through palliative care and entrepreneurial training; Hutoi H. Chophy, from Nagaland, who is fighting against drug abuse and its ill effects; Gaurav Gaur from Chandigarh, a former NYKS and NSS volunteer who continues his mission to eradicate HIV/Aids. These individuals, in their respective capacities are patrons of change that the society needs in today’s day & age.

 

Gandhiji’s Mantra to our nations was - “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. He believed that selfless service or volunteerism by every citizen would allow India to counter many perils and evils. Volunteerism has been recognized the world over as being a major contributor to peace and development. People engage in volunteerism for a great variety of reasons: to help in eliminating poverty, to improve basic health and education, to provide safe water supply and adequate sanitation, to tackle environmental issues and climate change, to reduce the risk of disasters and to combat social exclusion and conflict. Volunteerism also forms the backbone of many national and international non-governmental organizations. It is present in the public sector and is increasingly a feature of the private sector.

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