Volunteering is a noble activity and it offers loads of satisfaction. When it comes to volunteering abroad, many people think twice before complying. While recruiting volunteers, I always inquire, if volunteers really want to volunteer or if they simply want to have fun. My questions, cater to basic requirements of the volunteering world and urge candidates to do some serious thinking. Before you start volunteering, you must ask yourself some important questions. If you have the right answer, no one on this earth can prevent you from trying your volunteering skills.
Take a look.
# How much do you have?
What do you have at your disposal and how much can you offer others is an important aspect in the field of volunteering. While volunteering in India, I have come across several people who want to donate money even though they do not have much savings. I have a lot of respect for such people. But, don’t you think that a person must first help himself or herself before helping others.
I had once asked a candidate what she wanted to offer to the needy. She had promptly replied that she desired to share her knowledge with the children in India. She added that she was a certified teacher and wanted to be an English teacher.
With due regard to her answer, I feel that knowledge is an abstract idea and the aspiration to share it is ambiguous. But, teaching English is more definite and she is confident of her English teaching skills.
# What interests you?
Do you know what you are interested in? Some volunteer aspirants have no other intention than to make a difference in the lives of the others. If you belong to this group, it means that doing greater good interests you.
You may want to volunteer because it can help you in a course you are about to undertake. Let us imagine that you have a project on poverty in India. Volunteering in the country can offer you a strong insight into the economic structure and the living standard of the people.
On the other hand, you may have a fascination for Vietnam and so want to visit the country. I once interviewed a volunteer aspirant who wanted to visit Vietnam because her uncle was a soldier an the Vietnam War. His stories about the country had charmed her and there she was, sitting for an interview.
# Can you incorporate others into the cause?
Do you have the ability to gather more volunteers? You can inspire friends, family and neighbours in your cause and motivate them to participate in volunteering.
Influencing others to do an altruistic job is noble. Every time you inspire a person to volunteer, you create purpose in their lives. Some volunteers inspire retired people to volunteer. This is a great way to make the retired people feel useful. Many people get depressed after they retire as they think that they have nothing to offer to the society. The idea of helping the less privileged instills confidence and motivation within them.
# What are your skills?
I have interviewed volunteer aspirants who are not even aware what skills they have. Why don’t you ask your family and friends? They can offer some idea. You can visit LinkedIn and see which of your qualities have most endorsements.
You can decide upon your volunteering program depending upon your skills. You may be an efficient photographer, graphic designer, teacher or painter. There is a volunteering option for most skills. If you know your skills and inform it to the interviewer, the latter can assist you to select the type of work you can do as a volunteer.
I knew a young man who had a fetish for photography. When he joined the volunteer organization where I was working, he started taking pictures of the location, people in the community, members of the organization and fellow volunteers. Whenever he got time off from community development work, he indulged in clicking the pictures. He was preparing a project to promote the organization. One day, he posted it on a site on the Internet. His skills, marketed the organization and many volunteers expressed their interest to work for it. The organization also received a donation because of the publicity it received online.
# Is your help needed?
Whatever your skills are, have you ever thought, if your skills are at all needed? People often volunteer without thinking about the impact of their actions. Is touring the country your soul motive behind volunteering, or do you really mean to help others? If you want to tour the country, make sure that your volunteering actions help some people. It is no use, if you help others only for the sake of helping.
Do you take your children along with you for volunteering? Do you want them to learn volunteering? Are you sure their help is needed? Why don’t you instead, inculcate charity and helpful behaviour as a part of the family culture?
# How long do you want to stay abroad?
We often buy tickets and take the next flight to our volunteering destination, hoping to find the most suited organization and programs. But, don’t you think that is a very dicey situation. What if you don’t come across an appropriate organization or program? Not everyone can stay abroad for an indefinite period of time.
I advise you to prepare answers to these questions before you sit for an interview. You don’t want to sit with a blank face or reply “no idea” when you face any of these questions. Take this as an extra piece of advice – in order to volunteer travel in India or any other country, you must have required knowledge about the customs of that country.
In case you have any other questions in mind, you can let us know. A well-prepared answer shows your passion and urge to volunteer.
Varun Verma is the proud owner of iSpiice based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India, and has been unleashing his passion for volunteering and contributing to improve the lives of poor women and children across the country.