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By: Qudus Oyindamola

[Analyses]–Ever since the existence of man as a group and experience of growth in human society, man has always found a way to provide help for one another and invariably contribute towards the growth of their community.

The way and manner this is done varies from one society to another and from one generation to another. In the traditional Yoruba society there was a system known as “Owe”. This system entails a situation which an individual would volunteer to help another person on his or her  farm without expecting anything in return. The person he or she is to help might be an in-law or a family member, this is usually done in order to establish a close bond between the individuals involved.

Volunteering is seen as an altruistic activity in which an individual or group provides services for no financial gain “to benefit another person, group or organization”. It is an organic activity which has existed for centuries. Every community must provide opportunities and ample environment around which people can identify ways in which they can provide services which are geared towards development in their community. Such would afford them opportunity to feel among and see themselves in the context of their community and associate to its growth. It also gives them the avenue to improve the quality of their lives and their community at large.

As the world moves towards achieving a sustainable development- a development with human face, research has shown that sustainable developments that are most effective are those in which the members of the community are fully involved in the process. This is because the members of such community can easily identify and understand the problem or the needs of their communities rather than random people or groups who do not understand the terrain of such community.

The concept of volunteering even though has no universally accepted definition, refers to the process of rendering services by an individual or groups freely for the benefits of individuals, groups or communities without expecting an benefit of any form in return.

 Who is a Volunteer?

Susan J. Ellis and Katherine H. Campbell in their book “By the People: A History of  American as Volunteers”, define a volunteer as an act of choosing an act in recognition of a need , with an attitude of social responsibility and without concern for monetary profit, going beyond one’s basic obligation. From this definition, a Volunteer refers to an individual who takes of an act, with an attitude of social responsibility and without concern for monetary profit, going beyond his basic obligation. Volunteers as an individuals or group contribute to community development without expecting a reward “by committing time and energy for the benefit of society and the community, the environment or individuals outside or in addition to ones immediate family. It is undertaken freely and without concern for monetary gain” (Department for Social Development, 2011).

The Role of Volunteering in Community Service

In all aspect of human endeavour, the role of volunteering cannot be over emphasised. From the individual level, to the society as a whole. Their impact can be felt on economic, political, social and environmental issues. This has actually made volunteering a significant order in community development. On the individual level, it help in developing their potential and provides a sense of belonging to individuals in terms of the development of the community. It also provides a positive change and invariably leads to development of the community at large. Looking at the history of most of the developed nations of the world, one cannot ignore the overwhelming impacts and contributions that volunteering has on the developed nations of the world. “According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies 2011, approximately 140 million people in the 37 countries engage in volunteer work in a typical year. If those 140 million volunteers comprised the population of a country, it would be the 9th largest country in the world. Those 140 million volunteers represent 20.8 million full time equivalent jobs. It is estimated that volunteers contribute around $400 billion to the global economy annually. These estimates are produced using data on hours volunteered or the wage-based dollar value . one interpretation that could be given to this wage-based estimate is that it reflects what users of volunteer labour would have had to pay if they had had to hire the labor that instead was freely given to them”.

Volunteering has an integral role to play in community development and also on the individuals. This comes has a result of the fact that the long term benefits of community development work are not possible without the engagement of local people who are experts in the social problems and needs of their own community. Some of the roles of volunteering are discussed below.

  • Building of social bond: According to the social bond theory, the more social bond an individual builds which forms his social capital, the happier such a person would be. Volunteering help to build very strong social bond among individuals in the community which on the long foster peaceful coexistence in the community and this will provide a good environment for development to thrive in the community.
  • Enhancing Civic engagement: Volunteering help to build confidence and also build ones potential in term of working with the locals of such community and also engage government at both state and local level. It also builds one’s ability to engage international organizations like UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO e.t.c. depending on the areas of life one is volunteering. It also helps to develop ones participation in civic activities, such as voting, educating electorates’ e.t.c.
  • Human Capital: Volunteering help to develop human resources in different sector of the society thereby help to provide capable hands in different sector of the society and at the long run help in community development.
  • Equality and Anti-discrimination: Volunteering help to provide level playing ground for everybody irrespective of age, sex and race. This help to provide good community relation. It provides an equal opportunity for everybody to develop irrespective of age, sex, and religion, thereby embracing the concept of “ubuntu”.
  • It makes individuals happy: Engaging in positive impact activities always serves as a source of happiness to people. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. The more we give, the happier we are.
  • Provision of Public goods and services: Volunteering services help to provide public goods and services that are not available or which are not sufficient enough. This comes as result of the fact that there are some services which might be needed in the community but which are not readily available from either private commercial or public sector providers. Voluntary services have helped to planning of service delivery through strong advocacy.

To conclude, not only does volunteering play a significant role in the community, it also plays a significant role on the Volunteer. It helps individuals to combat depression, sadness, and also help to build self confidence.

In fact it is best thing that human being can engage in apart from YOGA; it is best that has happened to man after the invention of toast bread.

Copyright 2017 The Page. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.thepageng.com as the source.



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