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"Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
And reigns the winter's pregnant silence still;
No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
These are days when ancients held a rite
Of expiation for the old year's ill,
And prayer to purify the new year's will."
Helen Hunt Jackson, A Calendar of Sonnet's: February
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Volunteering - good or bad?

mheredgemheredge WordsmithHere and therePosts: 24,098 mod
Volunteering can be extremely satisfying: the people receiving the help are happy and the volunteer feels satisfied helping others. But is it always as easy as that?

Have you ever done any voluntary work? What did you do? Did you have good or bad experiences? What do you think of volunteering holidays?


http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/17/the-heaven-and-hell-of-volunteering?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2
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Comments

  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,372 mod
    People who are workless or pensioned sometimes complain of boredom. They don’t feel happy if they can not make themselves useful in some way. They are not the persons to enjoy doing nothing, laying in the sun or having some kind of hobby just to fill in the time. They only feel happy if they can do something that has meaning. Volunteer work can be a solution for them. Like it’s said in the article: the feeling that you really help someone, makes it worthwhile. In this way volunteer work can indeed be something that make people feel validated. However, volunteer work has a flipside that is not mentioned in the article. Charity organisations and other institutions sometimes make use of volunteers to do things were they usually should have to pay for. For example painting a club house. With this they can spare money, but this might deprive others to perform a regular (payed) job.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    edited November 2014
    'Workless' is jobless or unemployed @lichaamstaal‌. I know a few retired people who come to volunteer. But the majority are much younger.

    I think in most cases, if an organisation can afford to ay for someone to come to paint their clubhouse, I'm sure they would. However, if they don't have much money, having a group of volunteers who can do it for free makes obvious sense (even if it's not done quite as well by amateurs). Certainly in Nepal, it's usually a choice of the job being done by volunteers or not at all.
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,372 mod
    Sometimes there are situations where paid workers work alongside volunteers, doing the same work. For example people call in a moving company when they are going to live in another place. But they also ask friends, neighbours or other volunteers to help them. This could be frustrating for both parties. The professional movers get frustrated because the volunteers interfere with their habitual and professional way of working. The volunteers get frustrated because the work alongside people who get paid for doing exactly the same work.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    I can see that this might be awkward @lichaamstaal‌, though when I moved house the last time and had friends help as well as some hired helpers, this wasn't a problem. My friends were able to supervise the paid workers, making sure that things didn't get broken and helping with showing them where to put things.
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,372 mod
    You made your friends supervisors. That's a good solution @mheredge. In that way they don't do the same work and nobody gets frustrated indeed.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    And I can rest easy that nothong will get broken or go missing @lichaamstaal‌.

    I work with volunteers a lot @lichaamstaal‌. Medics (doctors, nurses, medical students, paramedics - but not usually nursing students) who want to volunteer in Nepal contact me and I send them to one or two hospitals that can use their help. They work hard and provide very useful help, training and working with the staff in the hospitals, as well as giving a lot of very value support to the local doctors.

    But volunteers who come ad say they want to help in a school or children's home tend to make a very limited impact and there is a quite a racket in often getting these well-wishers to part with their money.
  • LynneLynne Your Teacher HomePosts: 8,644 mod
    edited February 2015
    As a student, I volunteered with Oxfam, the Wildlife Trust and helped to organise several community events where I lived. And of course, I've worked on a voluntary basis for many years since, but there are lots of horror stories of exploitation in the charity / volunteer sector.

    Personally, I think volunteers should get something out of the time they give: Either in gaining experience, a chance to try out new things, or just plain having fun, and organisations that use volunteers have a responsibility to ensure their volunteers aren't allowing themselves to be exploited.

    I have more of a problem with unpaid internships. These seem to have gained popularity in the UK in recent years, and I just don't get it. A couple of hours a week volunteering, or even a couple of week's work experience is one thing, but expecting people to work, full time, for months, for no pay, is just wrong.

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/martin-bright/2011/07/where-does-volunteering-stop-and-exploitation-begin/
  • BubblyBubbly Nightingale Posts: 29,831 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    @Lynne I agree with you on unpaid internship. There are many companies who hire interns just to finish pending work. I have volunteered many times due to my association with a local NGO. I fully enjoyed my experience of working with communities in remote area. I have also conducted focused group studies with the students in northern areas of Pakistan. I was totally moved by their problems and miseries and I have compiled certain reports on it that was submitted later on to International NGOs. I personally think, as volunteer we learn alot in terms of ground realities and new experiences. Sitting in office and working on laptop does not give you the insight that you get from field experiences. I never felt there is any negative experience attached to volunteering. Its all about perspectives and depth of your experiences because you empathize more during volunteering and it takes you to the state of transcendence sometimes. I have seen lots of people around who volunteer during suicide attacks and terrorism. I personally worked as a team member in a rehab center where we daily spent sometime with the children who were passing through the trauma of terrorism. There are a number of stories full of brutality and violence. On contrary, there are a number of other stories who volunteered their lives for the sake of saving humanity. Volunteering is not an easy job, if you are living in a country where human blood is cheaper than money and miseries become the part of a routine life. Its endless for me to talk about it!!!!!!
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    I think there's a lot of exploitation of volunteers, but I'm also concerned at how sometimes volunteers going to a school or project can do more harm than good. For example, at school, it can be very disruptive to have a succession of volunteers, all teaching in different ways and often doing their own thing if they are not managed properly. Most schools here in Nepal love having volunteers, but this just seems to give the class teacher the opportunity to take a break and volunteers are almost always left unsupervised, to get on with it. Also if these volunteers don't come for more than a couple of weeks, they hardly get settled into how things work before they're off.

    But in this example, I'm referring more to foreign volunteers @bubbli. I have seen many Nepalese volunteers get very useful experience out in the field, working alongside scientists and NGOs. Like you say, is far better than sitting in an office.

    My heart goes out to all those selfless heroes and heroines who put the welfare of others before themselves @bubbli. I know one doctor, an American who volunteers almost full time to go to places where there have natural disasters (he spent time as a volunteer in Pakistan during the big earthquake). I think spending two weeks volunteering at a healthpost in the foothills of the Everest area must have been a well deserved 'holiday.'

    I can on endlessly on some of the problems of volunteering @GemmaRowlands, and especially voluntourism. Also there are many well-meaning volunteers who sadly discover the projects that they are helping are scams (especially when these are children's homes).
  • BubblyBubbly Nightingale Posts: 29,831 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    @mheredge Though it is difficult to be a volunteer full time! I missed many opportunities due to my other commitments. But as you mentioned, I have also come across many foreign volunteers who had short visits to Pakistan not only to help victims of natural disasters but also educated the local volunteers and activists to better serve in emergency situations.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    Teaching others how to do things can be one of the best ways to make a difference in these situations.

    And in the long term too, teaching someone how to fish is far more sustainable than giving them a fish.
  • aryarchiaryarchi Posts: 862 ✭✭✭
    edited February 2015
    I've only been volunteer in my university for projects and academic works.
    Although I've gone for blood donation once but they refused to do it cause I didn't have my identification card with myself.

    ------------------------

    I've only been a volunteer at my university for projects and academic work.

    Although I went to give blood once, they refused to do it, because I didn't have my identification card with me.
    Post edited by Lynne on
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    I'm not sure I've ever had to identify myself to give blood @aryarchi. Are you normally expected to carry identification with you in Iran?
  • aryarchiaryarchi Posts: 862 ✭✭✭
    At first I thought so, but they didn't accept me, they treated me as if I was carrying some virus in my blood. :(
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    If they want to be so ungrateful, @aryarchi, I'd say blow them and just walk out.

    I came close one time when the nurses were arguing whether to take my blood because 51 weeks earlier I had been in a malarial area and there's a 12 month rule not to take blood if you've been anywhere where you have caught malaria. They used to test for this in the blood, but they don't any more because I think it cost too much. So now they just reject you if you've been on holiday anywhere classed as 'malarial.'

    They take my blood without question in Nepal and Cambodia where I've been a donor. I'm sure the UK would tell me to get on my bike (get lost).
  • aryarchiaryarchi Posts: 862 ✭✭✭
    @mheredge It happened for me 4 years ago, and I've never went there again for my blood, I'd prefer to keep my precious blood in my body rather than argue with them.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    :)
  • BubblyBubbly Nightingale Posts: 29,831 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    @aryarchi @mheredge I wished to donate my blood but I cant because of diastolic issue.
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,372 mod
    I suggest you give blood for people who need it; not for the sake of the people who work in the transfusion service @aryarchi. However I can imagine it's not attractive to go to a place where the personnel is not nice to you.

    I've donated blood for many years and the people in the donor centre were always nice. After your donation they served soup or coffee and you could take biscuits or pieces of cheese. They invited me a few times a year to come, but all of a sudden they didn't call me anymore. I don't know why, but after one and a half year I received a new invitation. I had to go through the complete medical screening again, like the first time. I never went again, probably only because my routine was interrupted.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    If they're anything like the UK, I think it's more down to the efficiency of the registration system @lichaamstaal. I used to sometimes get invited but there were often gaps. Often it was just down to me. When I was aware the vampires were setting up in an office somewhere, I'd think back to when I last donated and go along. In the City of London, they visited quite regularly to get blood from the office workers there.
  • BubblyBubbly Nightingale Posts: 29,831 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    I think blood donation system is same everywhere. Now there is a proper registration system and I have seen many hospitals who have well established blood banks where anyone can donate blood and this donation is used in emergency situation.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    In Phnom Penh the children's hospital in particular is thirsty for blood, but would only take half-size donations even though I did offer more. Here they have a blood bank, but in Kathmandu there are only one or two hospitals with the facilities to store blood. In most cases, a friend or relative is expected to come to the rescue if they have the right blood type.
  • nelnel Posts: 1,125 ✭✭✭✭
    I thinks it depends. volunteering is good when I afford to do it and someone need to my help. In Iran usually earthquake happen once in 2 or 3 years and many people start to get every things that people need to them like tend, heater and blood for ulcerous people specially kids that thing mherdge said. The last time that I did a work voluntary was 2 weeks ago when I went mountain and I remove rubbish to the ashcan.I hope you get it.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    This sort of volunteering @nel, is the very best and most genuine. I doubt that Iran has the sort of problems with volunteering that occur here. Nepal is a very corrupt country and there are lots of scams to encourage well-meaning foreigners to come and volunteer at orphanages, charging lots of money and making a business out of it. Often money donated to sponsor a child goes to greedy people who have set a children's home but with no genuine desire to help the children. I have a real problem with that sort of volunteering.

    For example @nel, I have just received an email from a friend of a friend who arrives in Nepal next week to volunteer at a children's home. She mentioned the name of the UK organisation that supports children's homes in several countries. When I googled though, I find another Nepali based web site with the same name, but slightly different web address. I don't know if they are the same organisation, but I will be checking back with the girl to find out exactly where she thinks she's going.
  • nelnel Posts: 1,125 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm so sorry when I hear it. Some people think about their revenue only and it's not important for them children who are orphan. I like kids they are innocent. They need to help but unfortunately some greedy guys make other to forget them. @mheredge you can find orphan and orphanage in your country that are honorable and help them.
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    Unfortunately many orphanages here a form of human trafficking @nel. Parents from poor and remote regions in the country believe that they are paying to have their children taken care of and provided with an education. But sometimes the children are put up for adoption, or might be kept in a poor condition at a place where volunteers are invited to 'help' by sponsoring a child. Then this money goes to the person running the home which is in effect a business.
  • nelnel Posts: 1,125 ✭✭✭✭
    There are beliefs that deprive many guys from having what that they need. I saw some people who are stringent about studying girls and going them to the school. I think there are people who like to help others but it's really hard when they confront this problems.
  • SunSun Posts: 279 ✭✭✭
    I have volunteered in Red Cross for 15 years. Most of all we help to poor families who have need help, to old people who that live alone and can not care by oneself, at elementary disasters ( the most often floods or fires ), to people who have need of money for medical treatment and to many other people who need help. Also the Red Cross organize actions for voluntarily donation of blood.

    Blood donation is the most genuine and the most humane act who can do every man. Every unit blood save one life. Without blood donors many lives would be lost.
    Every country have own regulations who are strict and they have to abide by.
    That is need because the personnel of blood bank in one side have to care about health of blood donors, and in other side they have to provide safe blood to patients. :)
  • mheredgemheredge Wordsmith Here and therePosts: 24,098 mod
    nel said:

    There are beliefs that deprive many guys from having what that they need. I saw some people who are stringent about studying girls and going them to the school. I think there are people who like to help others but it's really hard when they confront this problems.

    Bonus correction @nel:

    There are beliefs that deprive many guys from having what that they need. I saw some people who are keen about girls studying and sending them to the school. I think there are people who like to help others but it's really hard when they have to confront these problems.

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'beliefs that deprive many guys from having what they need' @nel? Guys normally just refers to men. Do you mean people?
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