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Igniting a passion for volunteerism: Youth inspiring youth

Igniting a passion for volunteerism: Youth inspiring youth

Two youth volunteers share their experiences, hoping to inspire others to do the same.

In conjunction with International Volunteer Day, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), together with the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY)’s SG Cares Office celebrated the efforts of at least 160 of Singapore’s most passionate volunteers on 7 December 2023 (Thursday).

This first-time-ever networking session, organised by NVPC, and as part of SG Cares Giving Week, gave volunteers the opportunity to share their inspirational stories and connect with like-minded individuals, as well as shake hands with President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who graced the event.

This year’s theme, ‘Just Give Lah!’, galvanises individuals, organisations, non-profit entities, and the broader community to embark on a unique giving experience during the holidays.

During his speech at the event, President Tharman emphasised the need to spread the spirit of volunteerism to others.

President Tharman said: “We should never forget that individuals who care do make a difference. And together, we make a better society.

“May we continue to spread the spirit: of sharing our time and friendship with our fellow citizens, and making a better society,” he added.

HRO sits down with Felicia Chin and Saifuddin Arif Zainal, volunteers at Youth Corps Singapore and ACRES respectively, to share their vision for inspiring the next generation to pick up volunteerism.

Chin is a 19-year-old NUS Nursing undergraduate who started her volunteering journey with Youth Corps Singapore at 15 years old. Her time in the Youth Corps Leaders Programme expanded her understanding of community dynamics and avenues for assistance.

As a Youth Corps Leader, she collaborates with a team to implement initiatives benefiting beneficiaries and inspires those within her sphere to initiate changes and empower volunteers. In her multifaceted role, Chin exemplifies the spirit of a youth volunteer committed to volunteerism, serving as an inspiration to others, showcasing the profound impact one passionate individual can make.

When asked about how she has encouraged and rallied other volunteers to do good together, as part of her time as a Youth Corps leader, she responds: "Something that I really focused on was being able to create a fulfilling and meaningful volunteering experience because I feel [that] humans are all about emotions."

“It’s really about being able to be there, share with them why we are doing what we are doing, letting them see our passion firsthand and thereafter letting them go out there, explore on their own, and then attempting it so that they themselves can feel what volunteering can bring for them.”

Despite the pandemic, Youth Corps organised physical volunteer orientation and training sessions to get volunteers to know their own teams better, hence building a stronger relationship not just between friends, but with beneficiaries as well.

Chin says: "I would [also] recommend opportunities that I think fit their needs and opportunities that are assessable for them."

“It's really these feelings and emotions, this fulfilment that will always bring the volunteers back to do what we are doing.” she added. 

Our next volunteer, Saifuddin is 25 years old and is a star volunteer at ACRES, the only organisation in Singapore that allows volunteers to work with wildlife. His volunteer work covers all areas of animal welfare, including animal care and wildlife rescue. Despite being only a volunteer for three years, he has become an indispensable part of the team. As a Wildlife Rescue Volunteer, Saifuddin is presented with unique challenges and opportunities.

The dynamic work environment keeps him on his toes and engaged in the mission, each challenge showcasing his passion and unwavering commitment to wellbeing of animals.

Reflecting on what led him to join ACRES, he tells us: "ACRES was one of the places where I saw on the Internet, [that] worked with animals. I decided to [take] the leap of faith to join and see what exciting journey [lay] ahead."

He then goes on to share his first rescue operation with the organisation — rescuing a black-winged kite bird that was stuck in a three-storey-high tree in Pasir Ris.

Saifuddin reflects: "It took us about four hours to retrieve the animal to cut down because it was quite difficult, and I think the scorching heat was quite intense.

"The animal care staff named her Scarlett, and they released the animal back to its natural habitat!"

Rounding up the interviews, we asked the volunteers for a bite of wisdom they would like to share forward:

Q. Why do you believe it's essential to pass this enthusiasm of volunteerism on to the younger generation?

Chin brings up the concept of ‘Volunesia’ -- which she says is when "you forget you're changing other people's lives because it's changing your life."

"I think why it's so important to pass this down is because I think we all are one person you know, and one person can only make so much of an impact."

She elaborates how the Youth Corps Leaders Programme aspires others to feel the fulfilment of volunteering, learn the same lessons and give back to our community.

She notes: “It’s really just like mitosis. You really get to help multiply the whole effect.”

When asked the same question, Saifuddin shares his response: "It's interesting to work with different professions; it's very dynamic.

“Not only [do] I learn, as someone who's young, but I learn from these individuals and how I'm able to connect with them," he adds. 

 ALSO READ: Mental wellbeing at work: Navigating the different types of people you meet

Photo lead / Provided by NVPC

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