I wanted to make a difference and give my career a direction. But low self-esteem and lack of confidence have been my companions for long and taking on roles and responsibilities have always seemed like a Herculean task. My fondness for children came to my rescue and landed me in Child Rights and You (CRY), an Indian non-governmental organisation that has been advocating for children's rights for the past 40 years.
My journey in CRY has been one of a kind. What began as an internship turned into an association of a year and a half. Anyone wondering if an internship with an NGO is worth it, here are my seven takeaways from being a social work volunteer.
Every day is a lesson: Every day is a new opportunity and one needs to seize it in the best possible manner. With opportunities comes learning and, hence, every day is a road to new learning. Each day as a volunteer you are exposed to newer projects, newer approaches, newer challenges, and newer ways of reaching your goal. Whether you accomplish your objective or not, all you gain is a lesson for life.
Learning skills: Volunteering is not a simple walk through a straight path. You nurture both your hard and soft skills like data analysis and communication skills. Most of the time you are assigned a task that matches your skill, but at times you are trained to develop newer ones. One needs to work under certain circumstances and challenges, which helps in understanding one’s potential. It helps you develop various interpersonal and other soft skills like emotional intelligence, conflict resolution and flexibility, which go on to become the most valuable assets later in life.
Self-discovery: Volunteering for a cause with sincerity can boost your self-esteem significantly. You vouch for what is right, you take responsibility and concentrate on bringing out the best. You become confident and your thought process develops. Every experience helps you unbox your capabilities. Volunteering brings you psychosocial relief and allows self-reflection, which leads to the development of personality as a whole.
Keeps you grounded: This experience of doing little things widens your vision. It makes you grateful for what you have and, at the same time, gives you a fresh perspective. Volunteering has changed the way I looked at achievements. It made me realise that it is not always the big accomplishments that can bring about a difference. Tiny winning moments can also develop you from within. The journey makes you humble, keeps you grounded.
Children of CRY studying. Aparajita Sarkar
Teamwork: Volunteering is teamwork and everyone's opinion is important. You are encouraged to share your viewpoints and those are further shaped in the final course of action. No matter how tiny a unit you might be, your tiniest participation can make a difference when transformed into action.
Battle your insecurities: Every volunteering opportunity is a chance to move one step ahead. It helps you let go of your insecurities. For someone who has had difficulty in opening up with people, volunteering helps them to overcome the fear. With volunteering comes a unique engagement which on a personal level helps one grow up to the best version of themselves.
Volunteering is a two-way journey: It is a transformation for one who wishes to make a change as well as for one who receives it. Whether it be on a wider scale or at a personal level, such an experience remains crucial for every individual at some point in their life. My association with CRY as an intern and later as a volunteer was more of a learning and a rewarding one. Not only has the experience awakened the self-conscious zone but has revealed the realities around me. The joy of volunteering is peerless, but the impact is stronger than one can ever envisage.