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Youth: The power of volunteering

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International Youth Day. Photo: COE

August 12, 2020, is International Youth Day, according to the United Nations. This day is celebrated every year to recognize the efforts of youth in enriching global society. It also serves to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in their communities.

We are already halfway through the year, and with everything happening, it is hard to know what to focus on and care about amidst the chaos. In this ongoing raging crisis, youth involvement in society is more needed than ever. If you are interested in impacting and playing a role in your community, you should spend time volunteering.

What is volunteering, you ask? Merriam Webster defines a volunteer as a “person who voluntarily undertakes oR expresses a willingness to undertake a service.” The definition implies that volunteering is not forced upon or required but done to a better society.

Many different benefits arise from volunteering, and endless possibilities await that can significantly impact your future. As the younger generation, you should take your future into your hands, protect what you cherish, and decide how you want people to remember your legacy. Firstly, volunteering helps you grow as a person and develops your social and communication skills. Since the widespread use and development of the internet and social media, people have distanced themselves from other people. Especially in our generation, many young people have forgotten how to interact with others, but volunteering rekindles that human being connection that we once used to have. Furthermore, by serving your community, you ensure that we get to know the people benefiting from your hard work.

Secondly, volunteering can help you learn about the needs and problems of your society. This allows you to know first-hand what is going on around you, and you can be part of the people keeping order. If you can get your friends and family to join you in whatever project or organization, you wish to devote your time too that is superb. Human beings are inherently creative people, and as a youth, we have so much potential and unlimited imagination for how we want our future to be like. Volunteering helps you get closer to your desired future and shape it with your own hands.

I have benefited immensely from volunteering and observed firsthand the power of volunteering. My personal experience from volunteering at the Lagos Food Bank, LEAP Africa, and Nourishing Africa have reinforced that there is such a great need in society. Volunteering has also made me more appreciative of the people who do menial tasks that do not seem pleasant or are not well compensated for their work. I volunteer because I want to be someone who sacrifices histime to help people in need.

Thankfully, many other young people out there all dream for a better future for humanity. I recently enjoyed meeting and interviewing three young people who currently volunteer with Lagos Foodbank. Ms. Olubukola started volunteering with the Lagos Food Bank due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Motivated by a desire to put a smile on people’s faces and give to others, she has benefited immensely from the experience. Ms. Monica, another volunteer, was motivated by the prospect of giving back to society and lessening the burdens of others. Through her experiences, she has learned that volunteering is a selfless act that makes you a better person because you expect nothing in return. Another volunteer, Mr. Afolabi, started volunteering with Lagos Food Bank because the movement and its impact inspired him. From volunteering, he is able to reach out to residents in his immediate environment and positively impact them.

Congratulations to all the youth already volunteering and helping to alleviate the problems around us. No matter how small, it ultimately makes a difference in the grand scheme of things, so thank you for your hard work.

As we celebrate International Youth Day, volunteering should not be viewed as a chore or as credit for your CV/Resume, but as part of your responsibility as a member of the human race. Just because you are young does not mean you cannot make a change. Believe in yourself and in your ability to create solutions to society’s problems and impact lives.

Nwuneli is a 16-year student at Portsmouth Abbey School. He is supporting the Lagos Food Bank through the Haney Fellowship.


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