I’ve always loved volunteering. Anything to do with the community projects and investing in our women will always have a special spot in my heart. My father has instilled those values at a very early age re-emphasizing the need to always give back to the community because they are the very core values of society. Where-ever you are in the world, make sure you do your bit to contribute to humanity. You see, helping others is a challenge. Not everyone is very giving. But the end product and outcome of volunteering is very rewarding. It means the abdication of your own desire in favour of a collective good and getting out of your comfort zone-one that not a lot of people are prepared to do, empathise with and sacrifice for in life.
I often reflect on those powerful advice-It has never left me. I remembered that if I can’t be giving out monetary funds; my service through manual labour, knowledge and skills should always substitude for those values. Most Christmas periods during the early years of being a new graduate nurse, I hear my mother telling me on the phone that my youngest sister Flaviea is back in the village and she is boxing and wrapping up a few gifts for the elderly in the village. Then they do a special visitation to the elderly in their homes with these special food bags. It was so heartwarming to hear about it from the other side of the ocean. I am sure the satisfaction of giving is unmeasurable! Can you imagine the facial expressions of the elderly people in their homes when my mother and sister turn up with the small gifts? I’d love to be part of the journey and experience! One day, I would love to bring a portable trolley with a christmas light show and push it around the village and sing christmas carols to these folks! I’ve always loved singing christmas carols come christmas time! I love it so much!
Periodically, I would look back at my CV and reminisce. The amount of volunteer work has been abundant and staggering. My earliest memory of volunteering was being part of the Mana Sea Cadets in my surburb through friends. We volunteered our time and skills with cleaning and tidying up after our Porirua saturday markets. What great values to install into young people at that certain age. Time management, getting prepared, organising, delegating, communication, having appropriate tools and leadership skills were certainly all part of that volunteering role. I went on to become a Bellyful Volunteer in Porirua delivering meals to first time mothers in our community and helping out with fundraising projects (I had to give that role up eventually due to time constraints with other projects). What we forget to see, learn and reflect from all that volunteering work is the awakening of passion about social issues in young people that needs to be nurtured, supported, developed and encouraged. We are creating a national community of young leaders and activists. Its about the mental and physical development of these young people. Its about giving young people the opportunities to grow themselves. In turn, these people become a fundamental tool in building long term improvements which will eventually influence the government alongside the national, local enterprises and organisations.
Today as I sat with my gorgeous friend Janie Walker by a boat shed by the beach in Paremata having brunch by the seaside, we both acknowledged the wonderful environment we lived in. A tropical paradise indeed. She is a fantastic writer, a photographer and a volunteer too. “Just front up!”became a favourite reminder for us as we spoke about the sheer power of just turning up for something. 90% of the time, successful execution is just turning up! It is so powerful. We talked about the volunteering roles and writing pieces. Volunteering has vastly changed my life in big ways. The roles that I hold now outside of work as a volunteer include serving on different committees but not exclusive. These include the local Paremata Residents Association where we become the voice of the people to the local government council. This role has been very beneficial in bringing so much insights to how the politics work-this role is further extended and enhanced with me sitting on the Pacific Advisory Group at the Wellington City Council which I have learnt so much from. The Zonta Club of Mana is my womens fellowship group where we give voluntarily to support our local girls and women both at a community, national and international level-Very soon I will be inducted to serve on their board at the end of this year. I have two issues which I would love to bring up and discuss with the board as I’ve become very passionate about; first is to see our local board support our women in the Pacific with their developments and secondly to start a Zonta Club in the Pacific. It is only fitting that we start one. There is an urgent need for it. We have my fellow sisters who would love to be supported by our International sisters. I also serve as a committee member on our local musuem friends board-my love of culture, linguistics and anthropology hasn’t failed me as it has really defined me. Truly. In fact I love it so much that I have plans to build my own little musuem on a tropical island with my father. Recently I was headhunted by Red Cross (an honour of course) to become one of the first female members to sit on the Secretary General Pacific Advisory Board where I would represent Vanuatu and report to the Secretary General-this is a support role with helping mobilise Red Cross Operations pre, intra and post disaster operations in the Pacific. I was also very fortunate to have been highly recommended to be one of the translators for the TreatyTimesThirty Project into the national language of Vanuatu-the treaty of waitangi is the national founding document of NZ and what an incredible history to be part of this wonderful project where a lot of us volunteers translate the treaty into thirty different languages of the world. I have been very much part of the Ni-Vanuatu Community here abroad. It has given me so much credibility that way in giving back to my mother country. The benefits have been mutual and extensive. Though my committment to working professionally still stands and has always been maintained, I have also taken the lead role in organising our annual perioperative meetings for our hospital when it came to our turn to hosting. That role includes organising meeting rooms, communicating instructions and directions for our regional nurses, the occasional gifts, guest speakers and catering. It is a lot of work with planning but educational with my professional portfolio.
What have I learnt with all these volunteering? Actually a lot. More than I could ever imagine in hindsight. I have learnt a lot more than my professional career but that doesn’t mean anymore less than my career. It is all just as important. Vounteering has become sexy, fun and simple for me. It is something I do because it is not a long term commitment. It has substantially built a society based on trust-we could achieve a lot when we trust each other and work goes smoothly when we do.
I’ll never forget this beautiful illustration I once read about. Volunteering is the lifeblood of a society with volunteers as the oxygen carrying red blood cells, keeping the system running in the best possible way. It gives you the opportunity to be part of something greater by contributing a small amount of your time, because you and your efforts matter in making your community, your town and your country a better place-not just for people but the environment too. Yes, you don’t get paid monetarily for what you do but they are all invaluable experiences that will follow you for a life time-trust me, they do. The wealth of knowledge, work ethic, team spirit and time management has truly shaped me to become who I am today-and it’s all because of volunteering!