“Give freely to the world the gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned.”
― Steve Maraboli
With Christmas just around the corner I wanted to talk about giving but not the giving presents kind of giving, the giving your time and love kind of giving.
I’ve always loved giving back to the World, I knew when I was about 17 that I wanted to be in a career where I helped others and so started on the path of getting myself into the charity sector. I worked for a street fundraising company in London and then worked out to get into a head office I needed some office experience I spent two years in administrative positions until my dream job came up. It was to be a wishgranter at Make-A-Wish Foundation, somewhere I had longed to work!
When I got the job I couldn’t believe it!
I spent two years working for Make-A-Wish and it was the happiest I had ever been in a job, I loved that I was paid to organise wishes for children with life threatening conditions, even though it was also very difficult at times, it was so rewarding and made me see life with a new perspective. Speaking with families on a daily basis or even the children themselves helped me realise that anything can happen to us at any time and that life is short. It’s our duty to live like every day is our last, in honour of those who lose their lives too soon.
After going through a hard time myself, realising I had more I wanted to accomplish, I decided to leave my job at Make-A-Wish and go travelling but the first thing I wanted to do was to volunteer in Africa.
Happiness isn’t in things
I found a great online volunteering company based in the UK and booked my place in Ghana. It was incredible and again helped me see life from a new perspective. When you actually witness what life is like in a third World country, it’s hard to see things how you once did. I loved seeing how happy the people of Mpraeso were, despite having nothing. When you volunteer somewhere like Africa, the people are always so grateful for you being there, but I am most grateful to them, for teaching me that life is about so much more than what you have.
After volunteering in Ghana, I experienced the true power of giving my time for free. It felt amazing to help those less fortunate than me and for it to just come from the love of doing it rather than seeing it as a way to earn money.
When I began my travels I spent time in Australia but soon craved helping others again and that’s when I found the orphanage in Bali.
Love those around you
I spent so much time at the orphanage; day in and day out I was there, helping the children in whatever way I could. Working with these children showed me the importance of family. Even though the children weren’t with their own families, they created one. Every child that arrived was welcomed with open arms and loved just the same. There was no nastiness, just love between everyone and the older children all looked after the younger ones. I saw how lucky I was to be part of their family and also how lucky I was to have my family at home, a family who loved me and didn’t have to give me up because they couldn’t care for me.
Once I returned home from my travels I moved to Cornwall and again quickly looked for an opportunity to volunteer. I contacted Falmouth Age Concern asking if I could get involved. I had moved away from my grandparents, whom I would usually see once a week and so I thought it would be nice to offer company to an older person who was lonely in the community. A year and a half later, Molly is one of my best friends and definitely like a grandma to me. Apparently Molly referred herself to the charity, telling them how she had been very lonely because of not being able to do as much as she once could. I go and see her once a week for an hour or so and I look forward to it so much. We chat a lot and drink tea and eat a biscuit or two. Molly has taught me a lot through all of her wisdom as well as always reminding me to do as much as I can whilst I can because soon enough I will be old and as she says, ‘it’s better to try and fail than not try at all’.
We can get through more than we think!
I was also able to sign up to volunteer for Make-A-Wish Foundation as a wish visitor, as there weren’t many volunteers in the area. I hadn’t been able to volunteer for a while because I was never quick enough to accept the requests. After learning I needed to be quick, I have now done three wish visits in the last three weeks, visiting families with children who are very poorly and who have and are still going through a lot. Each family has been so inspiring. The way they manage to get through each day is incredible and the children themselves who show such courage and bravery. From all of them I have learnt that as human beings we really can get through anything when we do it together, through love and a willingness to believe that things can get better.
From everything I have done which has involved giving my time because of the love of it, I have learnt something so valuable. I now feel addicted to volunteering and want to give back as much as I can because I can. I am well and I’m able and I do have time and I believe that giving to others, caring for others is part of being a human.
If you want to become a volunteer, head over to do-it.org where there are endless opportunities listed all over the country. You could even make it a new years resolution!