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“Self-empowerment through volunteer work”
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“Self-empowerment through volunteer work”

Volunteer work is a route to empowerment and skills development, writes Musa Temidayo, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria, who spoke to a number of youth doing unpaid but rewarding development work.

This article examines the involvement of young people in voluntary work within various types of non-governmental organisations. Through my interactions with many other youths, one can understand why young people engage in activities that are neither paid nor compulsory, and how this voluntary work (which most times happens outside their formal education) has created a learning process which in turn has created an enabling environment for the development of self-empowerment.

When youth takes part in activities and causes that are of importance to them, it encourages them to share their ideas and be in the process of how decisions are being made. Some organisations and NGOs leverage on youth voluntary works to carry out their operations in communities where they live. Volunteering for these organisations gives youth social status. It also gives them opportunity to be listened to, and to work on proffering solutions and delivering services on real issues with or without prior experiences in such areas.

“I volunteered with Lots Charity Foundation for 2years+ to teach their beneficiaries basics of computer. That experience with the organisation ignited my passion to advocate for children and the work I do currently in helping children living in the slum via Dreams from The Slum empowerment initiative. It gave me a sense of purpose and direction.

I have always wanted to do something for my community to change lives and the experience with that organisation gave me a sense of direction and clarity for my vision. Now I run an initiative that caters for over 100 indigent children.” Isaac Success (Founder, Dreams from the Slum)

“My volunteering has helped me with coordination, organisation, my catering skills, exposure and intelligence.” Ayomide Ladipo

“I have achieved a lot with volunteering with United Nations at some points and even online. I have been exposed and work on real projects! And it has expanded my knowledge, too.” Tony

“Volunteering has helped me with meeting new people and this has helped me to develop, too. I am a shy person talking to people but with the different opportunities that I was given, I see other volunteers as family and that helped me a lot with relating with them.” Selina

April 2014, I was selected as A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassador. For me, been a Global Youth Ambassador was a self disciplined kind of volunteering that required me to be intentional in choosing my role as a young community leader seeking solutions to the numerous challenges facing the education sector in Nigeria. 
All I had was an advocacy toolkit and access to an organization overseas guiding me. This taught me to be proactive in seeking solutions. Through this, I learned how to analyze problems, engage with stakeholders, mobilize resources and proffer solutions. By 2016, these experiences guided me to Startup Pas Prize – a platform that promotes excellence in education as a tool to improving learning amongst students in my community.” Nina Mba 

From organising a town hall meeting, to meeting with local leaders to discuss germane global issues and how it affects their own community, to giving out free books, to sharing and localising the SDGs or taking responsibility for particular change in immediate society, volunteering has made young people to interact, test and share new ideas. This helps their learning process and gradually increases their competencies.

To conclude, the feeling that young people have to be part of something worthy that they have passion for and to have their voices heard makes it a fact that voluntary work is a viable way and a learning process for youths.

The impact of the pride the young people feel to have a voice and in being involved in concrete and interesting tasks, coupled with the resources afforded by the group, make visible the fact that voluntary work can be considered as an interesting way to develop empowerment, in a democratic sense of participation.

photo credit: Majiscup Paper Cup Museum 紙コップ淡々記録 貝肯庄 BAKE CULTURE The Heart OF GIVING Xmas via photopin (license)

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About me: I am an education and research enthusiast and essayist who studied International Relations at Obafemi Awolowo University.

Once upon a time, I was the Editor-in-Chief for DIPLOMAG.

I am an Ambassador for A world At School (UK), Director of Advocacy for Organization of African Youth for Development & Peace and also belongs to several bodies with a great passion for education advocacy, human rights and youth development.

I am also the fictional leader of #Taylor-swift’s fan in Nigeria.

You can reach me on email: musatemidayo@yahoo.com

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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