Volunteerism can be construed to be an outlet for expression of the spirit of selfless service that inheres in the humans. Amidst the quotidian, rapacious rat race of modern life where selfishness drives most human actions, acts of volunteerism, even if small in size and scope, coruscate as bright spots of hope for the future of humanity.
In order to encourage and appreciate voluntary work, the United Nations established the International Volunteer Day (IVD) in 1985. Since then the Day is observed on the 5th December every year globally. The Day recognizes volunteerism in its diversity as well as the values that sustain it: free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity.
The Anakavur Volunteers observed the Day on the 5th December 2013 in Cheyyar, a small town, which serves as the taluk (a circle for revenue administration) headquarters. The following is a summary of the reports filed by 43 volunteers who participated in the event.
The two volunteer-coordinators, Muniyandi and Thangam, had consultations earlier on the subject with Venkat, who also trained them specifically for the event. Since all the 43 volunteers wished to work in one place on the IVD, it was decided to choose Cheyyar town for the purpose. Incidentally, it also provided an opportunity for the volunteers to do some service in a town, for the first time. It actually proved to be an experience of a different kind for all of them and they were very excited about it, particularly for a few of them who were not sure at the beginning as to why they should be doing such a thing.
The volunteers were divided in to four groups and posted at the market place, the bus stand, the taluk office and at the State Bank of India Branch office. They rendered mainly the following services to the public at the above places:
• Helping the elderly persons and physically challenged persons in crossing the road
• Helping the above in boarding buses
• Helping the illiterate persons in filling in forms at offices like the taluk office and the bank
The volunteers have helped totally 110 persons on that day.
All of them felt immensely happy at being able to help those who were in need of such help. By way of examples, a few incidents are cited below:
• In the first case, a volunteer helped an old day in crossing the road at a busy place. Cheyyar town is usually cramped with traffic of all kinds in its narrow streets and it is chaotic. It is quite a task for the elderly and the challenged persons to cross roads in such a situation. The old lady, therefore, felt very happy and she not only thanked the volunteer but also blessed him with all her heart
• In the second instance, another volunteer noticed a two-wheeler rider hitting another of a similar kind and falling down under the impact. The volunteered immediately rushed to his help and helped him get up. He also gave him some water to drink. The rider was very happy. A cop who noticed all this also had also a word of praise for this act of the volunteer
• In another incident a volunteer helped another old lady in boarding the right bus. This act invited the hearty blessings of the old day to the volunteer
• A few volunteers helped in the proper and orderly parking of two-wheelers in front of the State Bank of India, in order to allow for the free flow of traffic on the road
These are but a few examples of services rendered by the volunteers. The 110 services referred are mostly of such and similar other kinds.
M. Sureshkumar, a student- volunteer from Akkur, who was posted at the bus stand, has this to say:
“I noticed a blind person who was trying to find out the correct bus to board, but found the task quite difficult .I offered to help him and he gladly accepted the offer. He wanted to know who we were and added that he belonged to an association which would very much like to utilize our services. He welcomed us to their upcoming event on the 15th December. He thanked me and our Group for rendering such useful service. He gave me his mobile number and requested us to do similar work during their upcoming event as also on the World Day for the Challenged Persons. This was a new experience for me and I derived immense satisfaction as a result.”
In sum, the Day proved to be a memorable one for all the participants. They have thoroughly enjoyed doing such service to the public – particularly to those who are in need of such services. They would now like to continue to do such services whenever the opportunity comes up. This augurs well for the Anakavur Process and for the people in need of help!