How to reconnect with what is essential through volunteering?

Written by Laura María Rodriguez Uribe, Earth Charter Young Leader

My name is Laura María, I have been an Earth Charter Young Leader since 2020. I am passionate about promoting sustainability and coherence as the foundation of our life. I believe and defend that individual and collective actions must be aligned with a deep and genuine connection with our present and future, as well as with the natural and social environment that surrounds us. This is why in this writing I want to speak from my experience and the learnings that the various volunteers in which I have had the joy of participating have left me. It is a fascinating subject that deserves to be approached as a way to respond to complex problems and to reconnect with the essence of service and humanity.

Being a volunteer goes beyond wanting to develop activities of general interest and in solidarity without receiving an economic or material consideration, it means recognizing that it does not require an extraordinary talent to be one, but a good dose of humility, empathy and willingness to collaborate together for a common cause, sharing skills, strengths and passions.

The advantages and positive benefits of volunteering are countless, among them are creating collective values, demystifying prejudices and stereotypes, understanding other people’s realities and dignifying the human condition. The satisfaction of the volunteer does not only originate from belonging to a work group alienated by the same objective, but also from the selfless contribution to the world or to their local community.

Volunteering is an act of love for any form of life, it is the way we can see ourselves reflected in other contexts and understand the relationship of equality and correspondence that exists with other human beings. The ability to put yourself in the shoes of others is nothing more than letting out the compassion that humanity so badly needs.

The learnings acquired when joining a volunteer service are not only reflected in the personal growth of the volunteers, but also in their professional capacity to make decisions and be a very valuable asset for organizations that are increasingly looking for the human resource of their teams are comprehensive and sensitive to global issues.

What is volunteering for you who are reading this article? I have compiled some opinions from different Earth Charter Young Leaders about what volunteering means to them, which will surely be an inspiration and motivation to join us:

“To be a volunteer is to give your body, mind and soul to a goal bigger than you … To serve.”
Luis Felipe Guevara Díaz, Mexico

“It is sharing time and knowledge to build the world we dream of. It is to assume ourselves as an active part of the change and along the way meeting wonderful people and living experiences that make us grow, learn and inspire us to continue working with love, dedication and hope.”
Catalina Gómez, Costa Rica

“For me being a volunteer is being part of a community sharing the same values, acting together for a better future, inspiring others and being inspired by your peers, always with empathy and respect for our Mother Earth.”
Noémie Plumier, France and Canada

“Be of help.  Anchor oneself.”
Lizzie Wang, China

“Personally, volunteerism is giving back through the act of providing unpaid services that protects the Earth. It’s more of a way by which I appreciate the Earth for hosting my species. And it fulfills my Christian duty to protect nature.”
Anthonette Quayee, Liberia

“For me, being a volunteer means having the will to do or fight for something that comes from our passions, from our sense of social, environmental and economic justice.”
Laura Restrepo, Colombia

“For me, being a volunteer means having the opportunity to contribute a grain of sand to the world while cultivating myself as a citizen of the world.”
Astrid de La Lastra, Panamá

“For me, being a volunteer is an important way to contribute to society by contributing the most valuable thing we have, time. And where we also strengthen ourselves.”
Erika Chuck, Mexico

“For me, being a volunteer means giving a voice to those who have fought before us to make everything worthwhile to achieve a better world.”
Yaneri García, Mexico

“To me, being a volunteer is an opportunity to show the world a slice of the goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ in my own unique way.”
Victor Okechukwu, Nigeria

Although, volunteering can be conceived from multiple perspectives and definitions, it must be recognized that the vast majority are positive and inspiring and invite you to experience it at least once. I invite you to join any initiative that connects with your heart. This will not only open the way for you to work with purpose, but it will allow you to create relationships with people who are also aligned with your vision.

The Earth Charter is a global movement that invites us, through its principles, to rethink our values ​​and choose a path consistent with ethics where we understand that we are all connected and that only through personal and collective effort can we carry out specific actions that promote a more just and sustainable society.

On the Earth Charter website there are online education programs that emphasize the importance of incorporating values ​​and principles of sustainability into learning and decision-making processes. In addition to this, there is a volunteer programme for young people who want to be Earth Charter Young Leaders, like me and many other young people around the world who bet on a generational and conscious change. The requirements for being an Earth Charter Young Leader are to successfully complete the course in Leadership, Sustainability and Ethics (LSE) and commit to being an active member of the organization’s global network, putting into practice the principles of the Earth Charter in your local community, facilitating practical workshops or writing articles of interest. Currently, there are  scholarships that are offered through a crowdfunding campaign that seeks to expand the reach of the LSE course.

I am an Earth Charter Young Leader and I have had the opportunity to be part of various volunteers in Colombia and Brazil, and today I want to invite young people passionate about sustainability and social impact to join this global network and become agents of change in their local context.