What does it mean to be a volunteer?
OPINION: A question for you; Would you be prepared to work for 12 hours every week – sometimes more – to learning or teaching new skills if in the process of acquiring those skills, you knew that you were helping many others?
If your answer is "Yes" or "Of course" – then would you be prepared to do it without any expectation of financial reward or payment?
That's a lot of hours out of your week.
Would you do it?
What if that level of commitment was only helping one person?
Would it still be worth it?
Would it be worth it to you to work hard without reward, if that person was a child – a child whose family either couldn't (due to circumstances) or wouldn't (by choice) provide what the majority of people see as the most basic standard of living?
Would it be enough reward for you in helping that one child, knowing you would also be helping yourself grow as a person – increasing your network of friends and striving towards a future where you gain paid employment on the same level as others who – unlike you – are not challenged by living daily with disability?
We have a group of sixteen people, working through three schools, and seven people working in several gardens, and every one of them commit at least 12 hours every week voluntarily – some of them considerably more than that, and every one of them would be equally prepared to do what they do, if by doing it, they knew they were helping just one child who needed them.
Koha means gift - an exchange of energy.
Something that is given freely.
We receive energy back from those people we serve, in so many ways.
The wonderful family – unknown to us – who see the difference we make in the lives of many – who generously gave us a cash donation – received so gratefully.
Thank you to those kind people who support us regularly – not for anything we do for them directly – but in recognition of the contribution we make to others.
Thanks to those who acknowledge us with a kind word, a smile, a shake of the hand – even a hug.
Yes – it is worth committing 12 hours - or 20 hours – or 50 hours – voluntarily every week, to learning new skills.
Preparing for a future of paid employment, of making new friends and receiving thanks and recognition for the work we do – even if our efforts were to the benefit of just one child – living daily in poverty and neglect.
For me – for those people who work with us – the Trainees, Volunteers, Team Leaders, Coordinators, for the professionals who support us, it would be worth it.
We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community.
- Koha Kai team leader Janice Lee