“Whoever voluntarily does more good than is required, will find it better for him,” - (Quran Surat Al Baqarah, Ayah 184).
When you land on the Saudi National Volunteer Platform homepage, you’ll be greeted by this verse. Islamic teachings, on numerous occasions, highlight the positive implications volunteering has on individuals specifically, and on societies at large. Benevolence, generosity, and kindness are woven within the fabric of the Arab culture, and the wealth of governmental and private volunteering initiatives in the Kingdom reflects that. A recent report published by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics found that 16.8% of Saudis volunteer. And the total population spent 52.2 volunteering hours within the year preceding the survey. As the COVID-19 pandemic currently forces us to maintain social distance, we are witnessing firsthand how volunteer work unites humanity. In April 2020, the Saudi Ministry of Health launched a volunteering platform to allow community members to join the fight against COVID-19. Around 100,000 members registered, out of which 65% were males.
Here’s our two cents’ worth on why volunteering is a profitable personal investment:
1. Networking: Meeting people from all walks of life will definitely broaden your horizons and bring opportunities along with it. You’ll learn from others’ experiences, make some friends along the way and connect with like-minded people. When trying to land a prospective job, this personal network could tip the odds in your favor.
2. Tying loose ends: Volunteering with family and friends can surely enhance the quality of your relationships, especially with hectic and busy schedules. Apart from the fact that it can help ignite your engines and keep you motivated throughout the process, it’s a great way for you to lead by example and be a role model for younger family members.
3. Boosting that confidence: Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, getting things done, honing pre-existing skills and mastering new ones will reflect well on your self-esteem. The actions you take and the decisions you make will back up the belief that you can conquer anything once you put your mind to it!
4. Topping up on health: Participating in volunteer work has been shown to counteract the negative effects of stress and help individuals better deal with mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. And because a little activity goes a long way, your body will appreciate it too.
5. Finding purpose and passion: When volunteering in different fields, you’ll gain significant insights. Realizing your passion and purpose will likely occur sooner than later in life when you explore your interests and get to know more about your personal strengths and weaknesses. Approximately, 41% of Saudis go into volunteering because they find that the desire to help others is motivating, and 29% feel a sense of national obligation. Giving back cultivates happiness and satisfaction on the personal and community levels.
6. Polishing that résumé: For any given job opening, volunteering gives you an advantage over other applicants. You’ll have something tangible to show in support of your acquired soft and hard skills. If you’re also looking to pursue a particular career path, volunteering in that field will demonstrate your interest and sincerity.
With Vision 2030 in full gear, volunteering has been recognized as an indispensable means for paving the way for meeting sustainable development goals (SDGs) locally and internationally. The 17 SDGs endorsed by the United Nations touch on chief civil issues, such as: ending poverty and hunger, ensuring gender equality, equitable education, water availability and combating climate change, to name a few.
Collectively, volunteering builds bridges between governmental and individual sectors, assembles a robust community and encourages dynamic engagement in social affairs.
As a volunteer, here is how you can leave an imprint on the entire world through addressing social challenges:
- Raising awareness: Altering the behaviors and mindsets of others towards objectives has a ripple effect. The small good you plant multiplies and eventually reaches a wider portion of society. This is something that cannot be achieved via institutional actions alone.
- Starting a conversation and implementing change: Bringing your own voice and that of marginalized minorities promotes an overall sense of inclusivity and fairness. That way, you take ownership of the implementation of changes and tailor it to the specific needs of your own community.
- Providing a new progress metric: Data collection, planning, and monitoring the impact of certain initiatives on the community allows for a more accurate assessment of efforts.
- Technical support and mobilization of resources: The personal skills you develop pour into the river of a greater good. A community coming together – capitalizing on strengths and filling gaps – is certainly a more solid structural framework to tackle the nitty-gritty details.
Where to sign up, you ask? Below is a list of sites to get you started:
- Saudi National Volunteer Platform
- Takatuf Volunteer Organization
- COVID-19 Volunteering Platform
- Saudi Red Crescent Authority
- King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center
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