Teach a man to fish
As expats, whether we have moved to Singapore for our job, for our loved one, or for the adventure, many of us bring years of professional knowledge and expertise, university education, vocational training, teaching experience, transferable skills, or skills that we have developed from our own hobbies, like sewing or computer literacy. Proverbs aside, your interests and abilities could have long-term implications for individuals and for society as a whole. By volunteering as a facilitator to help students to write, edit and read aloud their own poetry, for example, you could help teenagers and adults find their voice, and believe that their thoughts and feelings are valid and worth expressing. This, alongside improved English language and presentation skills, could have life-changing benefits for at-risk populations in Singapore and Cambodia.
Individual and community empowerment
Much research has come out recently about how volunteerism helps give us a sense of purpose, makes us feel good about ourselves and improves our mental and even physical health. But, actually, this can be a two-way street. Acting as a big brother or sister to children and adults with physical and mental disabilities, whilst volunteering as a side-walker during therapeutic and rehabilitative horse-riding therapy, for example, could be an important part of someone’s recovery journey. You could be helping to improve motor coordination and mobility, increase confidence, and even combat depression.
An extra pair of hands
Often, offering your time for free helps restore balance to a work force. Volunteering to help with food storage and packing in a food bank, for example, could mean that you are helping another member of the team to free up their time and actually get out and deliver the food to a family service centre, soup kitchen or school with children for low-income families. You are actively helping to redistribute the time, energy and tasks of the team so that, ultimately, the charity can reach more people who need their help.
The same can be said for fundraising activities. That cycle ride through Cambodia that you’ve always fancied doing to raise money for improved water sanitation could help prevent more child deaths per day from diarrhoeal diseases. It could even improve attendance rates amongst more girls who often miss out on their education due to the lack of a clean and safe toilet.
It makes you feel good to read about how much of an impact you can have by volunteering, doesn’t it? Perhaps, volunteering can never be a truly selfless act, but does it really matter? The point is that you are helping people, you are connecting with your community and you are giving back.
The volunteer roles described in the above article can currently be found on Expatgiving:
Facilitators - Writing Through
Side-walker - Riding for the Disabled Association of Singapore
Warehouse assistant - Food Bank