To lend a helping hand

National 3 minutes, 49 seconds


THE International Volunteers’ Day could serve as a reminder to volunteers that any related activities carried out are not only beneficial to the country, but it also helps to foster their individual growth.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, the president of the Belait Youth Association (PEMBELA), Atikah Rumaizah Dr Hj Harun said through volunteering, a person would be able to understand and learn more of the community they lived in.

“Especially by extending their helping hands to those in need, volunteers would be able to develop within themselves the senses of empathy and care; that they are more people out there experiencing hardships which perhaps could be more difficult compared to the volunteers themselves,” she said.

“Besides from fostering community-building amongst the people, the awareness and the sense of responsibilities towards others could also be inculcated within the volunteers– that when we see people who needed help, we would not hesitate to immediately help them,” she added.

The president of PEMBELA also said that volunteering is not exclusive only to youths; professionals are also most welcomed as they could provide more in-depth experience and aid with the expertise and knowledge they gained.

She said that at the same time, with experts and professionals coming down as volunteers in carrying out specific activities, the younger ones could have more guidance and be more inspired, encouraging them to be more involved in meaningful and healthier activities.

She added that volunteerism is also applicable to those working in various government agencies, not just the ones under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

“This is because taking care of others and helping the nation to grow is a collective responsibility of every one of us, where all stakeholders and agencies have their own roles, as well as the specific fields they can contribute into,” said the president.

Coincidentally, she said, the PEMBELA is also organising a youth programme, where within the activities is a visit to the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC).

She explained that besides understanding their scopes of work, the association is also looking for the specific areas where volunteers could also contribute to prevention and mitigation efforts in the case where disasters were to break out.

The president also suggested that if Brunei were to take part in the International Volunteers’ Day, various associations and organisations could be gathered in one place; besides from educating the public on their existences, associations and agencies could also have the chance to have more cooperation and collaborations in the future.

She added that Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) or related associations from abroad could also be invited to share their experiences so that the NGOs in this country could learn more from their different experiences and encounters.

Meanwhile, Firdaus Ismail, Programme Manager of Environment Education in Green Brunei said that volunteering should be viewed as an engagement “with” the society, and not “for” the society.

Besides learning about the society and identifying related issues, Firdaus said working with a variety of people and NGOs is a great platform for volunteers, especially youths to gain empowerment and personal development such as to gain leadership skills and develop creative thinking.

He said this because when youths especially, participated as volunteers with other agencies and NGOs, they learnt how to face challenges, which could also be seen as a preparation for them to join the workforce in the future.

Although most of the volunteering targets are seen to be youths, Firdaus said that there should be an age limit for participants, no matter how old a person is because volunteering also helps one to find his or her passion or hobby.

Additionally, Firdaus said that the Green Brunei will be involved in the International Volunteers’ Day celebration to be held at the Indoor Stadium in Berakas next week.

He said the association will promote its activities and achievements. They will also explain the benefits of being a member to those who are interested to join the Green Brunei.

“I hope that our society, especially youths are proactively participating as volunteers in any activities – youth engagement should not be viewed as a method, but as part of a lifestyle,” said Firdaus.

The International Volunteers’ Day, according to the United Nations’ official website, is mandated by the UN General Assembly to be held every year on December 5.

It was stated that the day is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organisations to celebrate their efforts in sharing values and promoting their work among the communities, non-governmental organisations, UN agencies, government authorities and the private sectors.

The Brunei Times