End of last year, World Vision Malaysia invited me to join their 20th anniversary program as one of the 20 ambassadors. This group of ambassadors represented different people who have been pillars to World Vision’s work: child sponsors, corporate sponsors, volunteers, partners, etc.
If you go through the profiles of the other ambassadors, you’d definitely be impressed. Supporters for 20 years. Child sponsor for more than 10 years. Child sponsor for 150 children. Supporting celebrity for 10 years. Volunteer for 10 years.
In comparison, I’ve only been with World Vision for the 6th year now. And I only started sponsoring my first child in Sri Lanka last year. So why did World Vision Malaysia choose me?
Apparently, I was told a staff member was inspired that I was writing and advocating for World Vision online last year when I could not support the events in person due to my cancer treatments. In an interview, the team expressed interest to highlight my cancer journey and how that impacted my support for World Vision too.
So, many months after I joined this ambassador program, I was asked to do a sharing session on stage with 2 other volunteer ambassadors during today’s volunteer training session for 30-Hour Famine Countdown. I thought I might as well share the Q&A that I’ve prepared for today’s sharing session here on my blog.
When did you begin your journey with us and what was the first volunteering task allocated to you?
I first volunteered with World Vision in 2012 for 30-Hour Famine, the year Wang Lee Hom came. I was in the Sanitation and Recycling team and I thought that was the best team to start with because it was so easy!
I just had to make rounds to a few toilets according to schedule so I had time to experience and learn about my first 30-Hour Famine when I wasn’t making rounds.
Special highlights or memorable volunteering experience over the years?
The first of everything is always the most memorable. The first toilet that I visited during my first round was a jackpot. It was a mess! But fret not. I only had to contact the cleaner on duty to clean up the mess because my job was to spray sanitizer and freshener and ensure toilets are in order. That’s it. It’s easy.
The hardships you experienced as a volunteer?
No particular hardship from the volunteer experience actually, especially when volunteering at the stadium. I’ve volunteered at Gift of Hope roadshows, a few events, 30-Hour Famine DIY Camp and participated as DIY Camp committee member. Volunteering at the stadium is always the easiest and most fulfilling for me. If anything, it’d be the hot weather when 30-Hour Famine was done at outdoor stadium – but everyone was affected so not just me as a volunteer.
Why World Vision?
World Vision makes volunteering so easy. Communication is always clear. There are trainings and emails. Staff are always friendly, helpful and considerate. During my first volunteering experience, I remember staff explicitly told us to stop work and enjoy the show when Lee Hom was on stage. And fellow volunteers are such happy bunch! It’s always enjoyable to volunteer with World Vision.
Share your values or what motivates you to do volunteering work?
I started doing volunteering work because it was aspirational. It’s nice to know that I’m privileged enough to help the under privileged; to feel lucky that I’m born and raised in a self-sustainable environment.
This sense of privilege hit me harder last year when I couldn’t volunteer at 30-Hour Famine due to critical illness. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer at 25YO and was undergoing treatment for 9 months. Suddenly I realized that even among ourselves we are more privileged than maybe a neighbour who doesn’t have a weekend to spare due to work, a friend who is working outstation, or in my case, a past self who was sick and (hopefully) a future self who will be tied up with family. So I feel lucky and am grateful to be able to come here this weekend to do volunteering work.
Word of advice for our fellow volunteers?
Volunteering is great but let’s not stop here. Talk about YOU volunteering on social media. One time when I was volunteering for Gift of Hope, I posted on Facebook that I was at BSC collecting funds for World Vision and a colleague texted me to help him to donate. Earlier this month, I volunteered at a DIY Camp and posted about it the night before the camp. Overnight, a friend and a colleague texted me to donate and the following week another colleague approached me in person and handed me RM500 donation. Wow.
When I first started volunteering in college, my thought was that I didn’t have money so I donate my own time and energy. Little did I realize that by writing a slightly longer caption about my volunteering work on Facebook, I’m ultimately getting my Facebook friends to be exposed to World Vision’s work and be inspired to contribute in monetary form. So everyone, take lots of photos and post them up everywhere explaining the efforts World Vision and YOU are making. It makes a difference.
Prior to the on-stage session, I was assigned to answer Question 3 and 4. I ended up touching almost everything above, except Question 6.
On top of these questions, the emcees also suddenly asked about my 25th birthday present, which was signing up as a child sponsor during my cancer treatment. I was caught by surprise but I’m glad they asked anyway. Otherwise, I didn’t have any other story to justify me standing on the stage; there were so many more amazing volunteers in the stadium.
I was also very touched that World Vision Malaysia honored a fellow volunteer who has passed away from cancer recently. I secretly wanted to honor her on stage if I was asked to talk about my cancer and World Vision. But the reverse happened and I’m quite glad I took the plunge to share on stage after the tribute.
If you’re interested in signing up as a volunteer with World Vision Malaysia, you just have to register on their website here. Don’t be surprised when they actually do referral check for volunteer recruitment; they take volunteers very seriously to ensure it’s an enjoyable experience for both parties.