I have been volunteering at different organizations that work towards diverse causes, for the past 2 years. The experience that I have gained from these wonderful institutions is priceless. Besides feeling immensely satisfied and productive, these experiences have also taught me a good deal about sensitization and volunteering.
Most of the folks who engage in volunteering will undoubtedly share their experiences with great joy and almost always in a positive light. They would gladly declare how enriching, insightful and empowering their experience was. While all of this is true, one shouldn’t assume here that all is merry and blissful. As a volunteer, you will face several challenges. The aspect of importance here, is to know that the core task of volunteering, the action, is actually the easy part. What comes in as a challenge is, sensitizing others about the particular cause and inspiring them to volunteer.
Of course, not all volunteering jobs may directly demand a sensitization attempt on your part; however, it makes sense to do so if you are already a part of the workforce trying to bring about a change. Moreover, you should not restrict yourself to advocating only a single cause; you must back related causes as well as other causes that you believe in. Most of these issues that the world is grappling with today are covered by the Sustainable Developmental Goals set forth by the United Nations.
In my opinion, the problem with sensitization and spreading awareness lies mainly in 2 areas- one, the target audience/population and the other being the medium of transmission of information. Many a times I come across some really creative attempts at sensitization in the form of videos or write ups, poetry, rants etc. These really have the power to create an impact and change mindsets, in fact, my own views have been shaped largely by such mediums. However, at several instances I feel that these are aimed at or can be accessed or even consumed by only a certain portion of the population, and this portion is almost always the same. For example, there are many campaigns out there today that address the issue of gender equality and feminism, but its reach is limited to internet-using, English-speaking, and mostly young individuals. This is obviously not a bad thing, as overlearning is the key to retention and consequently, action. I also do not deny the existence of articles in regional newspapers, movies or television shows that have a reach to other kinds of populations, but they are scarce and most of the times lack quality. To tackle this, I believe, as volunteers we must do our bit of research on which kinds of population are in dire need of sensitization and how the required information can be made available to them. Additionally, we must also really brainstorm our way into finding innovative methods towards sensitizing different populations in different ways, as they all have different needs.
Remember that you are not alone. In this world of over 7 billion people, there exist several people and institutions that can help you work towards your cause, you just have to find them and seek their help or provide them assistance. The UN is one such organization that backs maximum number of such causes and has created systematic goals for the entire globe to achieve. One has to do some research, again, to understand the condition of our world and enlighten ourselves first and then others about the same.
Above all, we must keep ourselves motivated towards the cause. It is very easy to take our volunteering duty for granted because we do not get monetary remunerations or other benefits and we are not bound by contracts or deals. In order to do this, we must begin by educating ourselves and, as much as possible, expose ourselves to the roots of the issue and the sufferings caused by these issues so that it influences our very beings, enough to keep us working at it for a fairly long time. Remember, charity begins at home. Start with your family and friends and you will eventually find your way towards helping and sensitizing others.
A Development Professional, work channelizes the power of youth towards voluntarism, self-actualization and community participation. He is the Co-Founder of Reaching Sky Foundation, He has been awarded the Youth Champion Award by iVolunteer, India as well as the Peace Messenger Award presented by International Peace Youth Group, South Korea.