At the time of the writing of this post, the Philippines is only a few days away from its 2013 midterm senatorial elections. The airwaves are bombarded with commercials, candidates slam each other left and right, violence looms heavy, and voters are expected to parse through all of that and make a good decision.
On average, the political scene in the Philippines is messy. Agendas, long-ingrained corruption, and the power hungry can make a joke out of what we call government.
In spite of all this, democracy is still something we aspire to. We still believe that if anything can save us, it’s a clean vote that will do the trick. By remaining a democratic state, we’re saying that participation and contribution of the electorate are things we still hold as golden.
Call me optimistic but I think the same can be said for volunteerism 🙂
In the heights of election fever, to talk about volunteerism as a concrete step towards change might seem naive. But ask the special children that Special Olympics volunteers train every week, ask the kids from the orphanages who have learned to write and read thanks to ates and kuyas who’ve given them their time, ask the Aeta families who Initiatives for Social Action is helping develop a decent water system. They’ll probably think otherwise.
Most of the people who need the help of volunteers are people who live day to day. And day to day, it isn’t the presence of government officials they see – it’s volunteers.
Everywhere, we see the marks of people who have freely given their time, energy, skills and resources to boost causes they feel have been neglected. Livelihood, the environment, arts and culture, sports – in all of these fields, you’ll find citizen-driven initiatives that spark positive change. And all of them started with the question, “What can I do?” It’s amazing.
This election season, one might say that a clean vote is a more concrete step towards change than a single day spent volunteering. Yes, volunteering may not be enough to change our country. But it changes the lives of the people in need. To them, volunteers are a saving grace.
And that’s how volunteerism changes the world, by changing the worlds of the people who haven’t been given a chance.