The urban youth like us are becoming conscious of the need for support in the society more these days. We want to do something, be a part of something that is good for the society and be of some help. It is a good sign one must accept that as a society we are becoming conscious and responsible to solve the problems outside. Just that the word ‘ Societal Problem’ is an extremely generic one and has a lot of layers to it, so let us freeze on the problems that we are very well exposed to; children deprived of parental guidance. So in a quest to understand how volunteerism can effect a positive change towards solving this problem, we have come across a bigger problem. This bigger problem is not visible to the world outside. This bigger problem pushes us to think on the viability of the corporate volunteers and one time volunteers. (Please Note: Here corporate volunteers refers to those who are volunteering as a part of their big corporate’s social responsibility. And our focus here is on the time spent by the volunteers and not on the financial charity).
We get the urge inside to do something good for the society. We understand the concern that, the one time a person spends with the kids in shelter homes, he/she wants to see them happy. Now seeing them happy and working towards keeping them happy is two different things altogether. If someone comes to a conclusion that a kid inside a shelter home is happy just by seeing the kid happy, then it is false. Well, for most of the corporate volunteers, there are funds at their expense, there are required resources at their liberty and there is that one day to spend it all on the kids at a shelter home. Its fun, we agree. That day, that one day is the most happiest day for the kids one can think. An outsider just walks in, plays a clown, makes the kids laugh and dance their heart out, feels satisfied for doing all this and then leaves. The volunteer leaves for never to be seen again by the kid. That volunteer might feel a sense of contentment as he/she was able to develop that connect with the kids there and make them happy for a day. In essence, for two to three hours of that day. Please note that these kids are growing in an institutional framework and are clearly deprived of a home with a parental guidance. So, they are more open towards strangers with donors walking in and out of their place regularly. The connect that is assumed to have been developed with the kids might therefore be false.
You celebrate the New Years’ in one shelter home. Get all the stage ready, order some brilliant food from a 3 star hotel for the kids and the staff of the shelter home, play some popular music, dance away to glory, take some mind blowing pictures of the event and leave satisfied. But what is the effect of this little stint on the kids nobody thinks. It is surely fun for the kids to spend a day grooving to the music and forget everything else. Imagine, this little stints happening with the kids every now and then. Just think whether your parents would have allowed you to enjoy all this as a kid so frequently, or will you allow your kids to enjoy the same so regularly. The impact this kind of volunteerism leaves on the kids is definitely curbing the holistic development of the kid in the long run. The kids in the shelter homes require a replacement of a parent. We are sure parents are never these little stints, they are available 24 hours a day everyday. Although none of us volunteers can make up to this, what is required is a follow up of your visit. You might not teach anything to the kid, you might just visit them once and that is good. But what actually creates impact is when you can visit them regularly.
Visit the same set of kids regularly. Make friends with them. Get to know them. Share your interests and passions with them. They will be very much interested to know all these. Do not write it off as a Geek Material and start concentrating only on raw entertainment. Although the kids show their clear bent of mind towards that, it is not the need of the hour. We need to think on our approach and understanding of volunteerism and effecting change through volunteerism, right now. You don’t need to have fun for a day with the kids and escape for never ever to be seen again thinking that something good has been done to the society, and this is our standpoint.