Volunteering is vanishing in Nigeria

According to Dictionary.com, “Volunteerism is the policy or practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one’s community.” Volunteers are driven by passion to leave a noble legacy of service to humanity.

Talking about the power of volunteerism, the United Nations Volunteer Programme observes that  “People the world over engage in volunteerism for a great variety of reasons: to help to eliminate poverty and to improve basic health and education, to tackle environmental issues, to reduce the risk of disasters or to combat social exclusion and violent conflict. In all of these fields, volunteerism makes a specific contribution by generating well-being for people and their communities.” The UNVP goes further to emphatically state that attainment of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is impossible without people offering free services to support it.

Indeed, national development is unattainable without some measure of volunteerism. This is because government alone cannot bring about the desired development. Neither is the organised private sector whose motive of establishment is purely profit-making. This is why there is a need for non-governmental, not-for-profit organisations better known as NGOs to bridge the developmental gap. The NGOs comprising of Community-Based Organisations, Faith-Based Organisations, Foundations and the wider civil society play critical roles in any country’s developmental agenda.

Aside from the aforementioned UNVP, other examples of voluntary organisations include but not limited to Voluntary Service Overseas which is an international development charity with a vision for a “world without poverty” and a mission to “bring people together to fight poverty”.

There is also the International Red Cross Society whose affiliate in Nigeria was founded in 1960 and has over 500,000 volunteers and 300 permanent employees. Other examples of voluntary organisations include social clubs like the Boys’ Scout, Girls’ Guide, Boys’ Brigade, Dangote Foundation, MTN Foundation, Rotary Club, Lions Club, and many more.

Individuals can also go it alone. Helping disaster victims through voluntary blood donation or moving victims to hospitals is one of such ways.  Whistle-blowing is also an act of volunteerism. Helping the physically challenged and the aged to cross busy roads, assisting with traffic control when there is congestion, supporting the rebuilding of dilapidated public infrastructures such as schools or hospitals, offering scholarship to indigent pupils and students, offering pro-bono services as a lawyer, giving free medical support to people in hard-to-reach rural communities, fixing bad roads with personal resources, providing free security services are some of the ways individuals can key into acts of volunteerism.

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By Jide Ojo

Credit picture: Ebola virus survivor Oluwatoyin Bamigboye, speaking to volunteer Nigerian health workers on a mission to fight the Ebola virus in affected West African countries in 2014. Pius Ekpei/Getty Images.

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