This is one of the most elusive topics on volunteering so far and never really gets discussed much. How can volunteering not be a positive thing?
If you’ve read anything in regards to the Red Cross U.K saga, you will know exactly the answer to this question.
We have numerous stories wherein volunteers engage in unsavory encounters, and other unbecoming acts in local towns, unbothered about the work that needs to be done. They’re soon shown the door, but it can lead to an immense amount work, extra planning and stress on our team.
In fact, volunteering can lead to disgrace of a community in a lot of ways if care is not taken.
If you haven’t got a strong foundation for volunteering in a disaster-relief or humanitarian aid situation, the chances are that the impact you’ll be having will do more harm than good. Every-time a volunteer has their interview with us we always ask “why”?. this is so essential to us so we can ensure a volunteer has a solid foundation in which they are working from in order to get their personal mission accomplished and be of positive benefit to communities.
It is very difficult for some of us to think of volunteering in a negative manner. Whenever volunteering comes to mind, we start thinking thoughts about:
- A selfless endeavor
- Leaving your comfort zones to help people
- Doing some good in the world
But the quality of volunteering and the kind of impact it will have will largely depend on one factor:
The intention behind it!
Wrong Intents and Volunteering
When it comes to volunteer aid, the wrong intent kills, diminishes or debilitates the reason its needed the first place. There are no two ways about it.
If you want to “test your intent” for volunteering, this in itself shows that you are not sure about your objectives. This is one of the first signs that you might not be made for it. A volunteer should never questions his purpose. His question is always “How can I help the society?” and not “Why should I help the society?” or “What can I get out of this”?.
But even if you do decide to test your intents for authenticity, there are other simple ways to do it.
For example, you decide to work as a volunteer only to “look good” you are volunteering for the wrong reason. Volunteering with lack of enthusiasm for the project will ultimately lead to project failures.
Without genuine goodwill at heart, you are going to leave a negative impact on not just the community but also the fellow volunteers around you. This is because the state of mind that a person has will determine his actions, his response to situations and his approach to things. Any volunteer without genuine compassion and are just in it for the instagram likes will end up impacting negatively.
For example, some time ago, I read about some volunteers who engaged in sexual endeavors with under-aged girls in Cambodia. This disgusting act harms not only the mental well-being of those girls but it also reinstates their life in poverty, reducing their belief to break out of the cycle.
Your reason for volunteering will determine the impact your actions will have. So always remember, egotistical volunteering is equal to dangerous volunteering!
Passion and Tenacity helps Positive Volunteering
Volunteering doesn’t always come easy. You really get taken out of your comfort zone. Depending on the country your in there may be no hot showers, sometimes no toilets and definitely no easy access to wifi. Sorry folks-no netflix! So a volunteer with a superficial interest can have a detrimental effect among the team, and if they face any challenges you can guarantee this will come with even more negatively, and all that crap goes onto the people around him/her.
Recently we had a volunteer who loved to tell everyone he’s volunteering for a year-it was like he was using it as his identity. It became so apparent that he was just another tourist in disguise when things didn’t go to plan with his external tourist trips he had been wanting to do. And when shit hit the fan; he through a tantrum. Can you imagine? Not ideal for anyone in our on-gound team, it leads to extra stress thats unneeded when we are trying to build up a community. Not to mention the volunteers in the house with him…
Volunteering is not a bed of roses; either you are genuine about it or you would be on the next flight running home. Remember selflessness before selfies!