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“It’s time for Zambia to embrace volunteerism”
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“It’s time for Zambia to embrace volunteerism”

Championing a culture of volunteerism could be the key to build a stronger, more cohesive social economy, writes Mzeziti Mwanza, 25, a Correspondent from Lusaka in Zambia.

For a long time, the culture surrounding voluntarism has been absent in Zambian communities.

Citizens, both young and old, would rather have let their time pass idly than volunteer. What’s lost on these people is the positive effects that volunteering can have. Studies have shown that volunteering has many benefits, including: providing volunteers with the opportunity to explore different career paths, develop leadership skills, and network with other like-minded individuals.

One encouraging sign, however, is that with the introduction of volunteer programs by International charities and non-governmental organizations, voluntarism is slowly becoming a cultural norm among Zambian youth.

Unemployment and under-skilled youths are huge social-economic problems in Zambia. For example, the youth unemployment rate in Zambia stands at 13.3 per cent, and a majority of these people lack the skills to contribute to the Zambian labour market.[i] Securing paid work experience during or right after high school, college or university is very difficult. however Volunteering, however, makes attaining work experience possible. For example, statistics show that volunteering is associated with a 27 per cent higher chance of employment, with a major impact on persons without a high school diploma, or who live in rural areas.[ii]

One example of programs that looks to tackle these systemic problems of underemployment is the International Citizen Service (ICS). This development program brings together young people from the U.K. and developing countries to volunteer in some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. ICS is managed by respected development organizations, and funded by the U.K. government.

According to Precious Nkandu Lumpa , 23, who recently graduated from the University of Zambia, volunteering with a business-oriented charity is the best career move she could make to feed her passion for entrepreneurship. She volunteered with the ICS program and says her experience in the program has helped unlocked her potential to be a leader and active member of the Zambian labor market.

Precious’ volunteer placement gave her access to many potential employment opportunities with small and medium scale businesses worldwide. At the moment, Precious is working in marketing and business development for a solar energy company. She says the skills she acquired during her voluntary work provided her with experience for her current job.

Precious’ experience should show the Zambian government needs to recognize the critical contribution that voluntarism makes in building a strong and cohesive society. Voluntarism can also promote the act of citizenship among people, promoting social inclusion, and an important contributor to the delivery of high quality public services. Young people can play a key role in creating a flourishing economy. All that is needed is investment in people through training, boosting skills and helping those who exist the margins of the labour market.[iii]

Reach me on Twitter @crecencia04

Photo credit courtesy Inota Cheta. Image is of Precious Nkandu Lumpa.

[i] https://tradingeconomics.com/zambia/unemployment-rate

[ii] National community service, USA (2013) Volunteering a path to employment.

[iii] Social impact of volunterism,2011,Huiting Wu, Points of light institute.

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About me: I am a development studies major, who is currently volunteering for challenges worldwide through the International Citizens Service (ICS) program. I have a diverse personal interest in research on agriculture, rural development and green ideology.

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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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