What is volunteering and Development :
It is an indisputable fact, that building up a stronger, healthier nation and community is facilitated by community development work and volunteering is one such key facilitator to the nation’s development.
What is volunteering and how can it play an integral part in the nation’s development :
Volunteering is the service which an individual or group can provide for the betterment of another person or a community , with no commercial stigma attached to the service. It happens, when people from different walks of life , with a common goal and passion, participate in activities , that are good for the country and the community .
Volunteering is fundamental in the development process of a particular community and nation. Development of the nation or a community is a continuous process, and the role of volunteering through it multifaceted activities, be it formal or informal , for the development of the nation can be fulfilling for the individual or the group that volunteers and the community that is benefitted. Volunteering is the key catalyst , and it is through this catalyst that the process of a nation’s development, its values, changes, reforms can be realized and implemented as well.
History shows that human society from time immemorial has survived by the process of volunteering. It has been one of the key contributors for which human civilization has been able to survive through the ages. However, with the advancement of science and technology and human needs becoming more varied and complex by the day, volunteering too has added newer dimensions. The term is no more restricted to just providing food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless and clothes to the needy, but has broadened its activities and has pushed its boundaries further. Volunteering through various philanthropic organizations, campaigns, promotions for a cause or multiple causes, is becoming popular . India provides us with myriad social causes and environmental issues , and volunteering for any such cause or multiple causes can contribute to the building and development of a healthier , better , safer, cleaner nation. There is enough evidence to prove that how volunteering for any such cause can promote an understanding between the groups who are volunteering and the beneficiaries, and can contribute to the long term impact of nation building.
(Volunteers sweep the broad walk in Brooklyn after 2012 Hurricane Sandy)
Education for the underprivileged :
Statistics and research have shown that India is one of the top 10 nations where the rate of school drop out among children is very high. The root cause is poverty and ignorance. If earning a livelihood and feeding the family becomes the predominant factor from childhood , then education stands a lesser chance to pursuance .
Here are some of the facts and figures:
- Less than half of India’s children between the age 6 and 14 go to school.
- A little over one-third of all children who enroll in grade one reach grade eight.
- At least 35 million children aged 6 – 14 years do not attend school.
- 53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate. In India, only 53% of habitation has a primary school.
- In India, only 20% of habitation has a secondary school.
- On an average an upper primary school is 3 km away in 22% of areas under habitations.
- In nearly 60% of schools, there are less than two teachers to teach Classes I to V.
- On an average, there are less than three teachers per primary school. They have to manage classes from I to V every day.
- High cost of private education and need to work to support their families and little interest in studies are the reasons given by 3 in every four drop-outs as the reason they leave.
- Dropout rates increase alarmingly in class III to V, its 50% for boys, 58% for girls.
- 1 in 40, primary school in India is conducted in open spaces or tents.
- In Andhra Pradesh (South India), 52 upper primary schools were operating without a building in 2002, while in 1993, there were none.
- In Maharashtra (West India), there were 10 schools operating without a building in 1993, this has climbed to 33 in 2002.
- More than 50 per cent of girls fail to enroll in school; those that do are likely to drop out by the age of 12.
- 50% of Indian children aged 6-18 do not go to school
( Data collected from Smile Foundation )
The figures are alarming indeed! Imperative it is that educating the mass and the underprivileged community can go a long way in building up India to the next level of a developing country. In order to overcome the inequality and the ‘ gap’ that remains in the lives of the underprivileged, poor and marginalized community, education is vital to achieve the goal.
By developing a skilled workforce, education can contribute to the development of a nation and can take it to the next developed bracket. The inability to provide school fees and the fear of losing a source of labor can be formidable for the less privileged class. The need of the hour is to make them realize how education can bring in a change in their lives, give them scope to build up skills and improve their lifestyle by escaping poverty. To unlock this wealth of benefits that education can bring in , can help them in realizing the necessity of sending their children to schools , thus bringing in a generation that is resourceful.
Various voluntary organisations and NGOs are working in this area. Smile Foundation is worth mentioning. ‘Teach India ‘ is a laudable initiative . Also , as the age old adage goes, charity can begin at home . While we, the more privileged and educated class can be associated with these initiatives and volunteer to change the lives of the lesser privileged, we can, each one of us , contribute in helping the wards of our household maids, drivers and gardeners , in realizing their dreams to be educated.
One of the greatest concerns of modern civilization is the environmental degradation. This includes deforestation, climate change, pollution and many others
Throughout the world, cultivable area is barely expanding and a good portion of agricultural land is losing its fertility. Water bodies have suffered depletion and pollution is severely restricting food production.
According to the Human Development report of 2006 of the United Nations Development program, 1.2 billion people in developing countries have no access to safe water and 2.6 billion have no access to sanitation.
(A bird covered in oil from Black Sea oil spill)
Natural forests , which help stabilize the climate are being cut down . People are being displaced. There is a steady rise in the destruction of habitat in areas which are rich in species. A steady decline in the total amount of ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere poses a real danger to the eco system.
Climate change will lead to an increase in the intensity of weather extremes such as heat waves, floods and droughts.
Driven by all such alarming concerns, volunteering for the conservation of environment is the need of the hour. It is at the community level that people can bring in the biggest difference to prevent desertification and further degradation.
- Volunteering for food security : As statistics show, about 2 billion people lack food security due to varying degrees of poverty. Extreme climate change is affecting this further. Sustainable food production depends much on agricultural practices that respect the eco system. Volunteerism can play an effective role here.
- Natural resource conservation: Various organizations are working in the conservation of natural resources-land , forest and water, through engagement of the community and local level stake holders.
- Enviornment degradation can be stopped through persistent and continuous efforts. While the UN and various Nations across the globe are working towards conservation of our environment, through our small individual efforts , we can volunteer and bring about a change. Planting more trees and protecting them, conserving energy and natural resources can be done at a personal level. Being able to recognize the problem and how to arrest it , is the first step taken towards environment protection.
Volunteering with the leading conservation organizations in India can be the first step for a larger concern to preserve ecology and environment . Nation’s development depends on this kind of individual and community efforts and practices. We can leave behind then, a beautiful planet and a much developed nation for progeny.
Contributed by : Dola Mukherjee (https://volunteeringawayoflife.wordpress.com/)