Speaking at World Vision Volunteers’ Circle of Friends Meetup July 2018

I have a confession to make. I just recently realized that I haven’t stayed with any organization longer than I have with World Vision Malaysia! Even though it is far from being a full-time engagement and I have taken breaks in between, I have been volunteering with World Vision Malaysia at my convenience for the 7th year now!

Through the years, I have attempted a whole range of roles and I have definitely grown from these experiences.

Most recently, World Vision Malaysia gave me a new task, which was to share my volunteering experience with an intimate bunch of fellow volunteers and aspiring volunteers! That’s something new that I’ve never done before. I took it up regardless. And it was when I compiled materials for my presentation that I realized I have learned quite a fair bit from my volunteering stint with World Vision Malaysia.

They gave me a bunch of questions to address in my presentation and the questions were pretty much identical to the ones asked during the interview at 30-Hour Famine 2017 Volunteer Training that I just used that blog post as my starting point for this presentation ✌️.

Since I already have the script and the slides prepared, I might as well publish them here for sharing (and my safekeeping). #winwin

I’m just a normal working adult who has a 9-6 office job like most people.
This handsome man here was the 30-Hour Famine Ambassador when I started my first volunteering assignment with World Vision Malaysia in 2012.
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.
From the not-so-glamorous sounding role in Sanitation and Recycling team, I was assigned to a more glamorous-sounding team these 2 years: Backstage team.

Everyone’s first reaction when they hear that is that “Oh that’s nice! You get to meet the celebrities!” but for me, it’s “Oh man… How do I recognize the celebrities? I can’t tell them apart!” 😆 So besides the excitement of the role, there’s also the anxiety/stress…
Speaking of anxiety, once I was assigned to do sort-of guest hospitality role during Sponsors’ Unite event. Basically, I just need to chit chat with the child sponsors who have arrived early in case they need any assistance or they are just bored. So I chatted with this 25-year-old man who was a child sponsor of 2 children of how he donates things off of the internet from places like skytechlasers.com/telescope-under-200/. I spent about 10 minutes nervously talking to him about what we’re doing that day and answered any questions he had about World Vision. Guess what? He sponsored another 2 children on that day. #satisfaction
I’ve volunteered at 30-Hour Famine as a Countdown Event volunteer, DIY camp organizer and DIY camp volunteer. I’ve also done some silo events supported by World Vision Malaysia. 
On top of that, I also had to learn how to dance to Oppa Gangnam Style in Berjaya Time Square, chatted with Child Sponsors pre-event, wait for shoppers to walk out from supermarket to tell them about Gift of Hope and share my volunteering experience on stage i.e. this session.

So I’ve done quite a fair bit of many different things.

And I’d say there’s no particular hardship physically. I think the hardest thing about being a volunteer is the uncertainty and unfamiliarity in every new event and role that you do.

No one Gift of Hope roadshow or even the annual 30-Hour Famine Countdown is exactly the same. You get different World Vision staff, volunteers, locations, crowds, event activities and responsibilities. Some experiences are easier than a few. It’s also a learning curve for volunteers to learn new task and expand our personal skills and knowledge.

So I’d say getting out of your comfort zone is the hardest thing about being a volunteer.
I’m with World Vision for the 7th year now. I’ve never been with any organization for this long so it sure says something. World Vision makes volunteering so easy. Communication is always clear. There are trainings and emails. Staff are always friendly, helpful and considerate. And fellow volunteers are such happy bunch! Very importantly, volunteering with World Vision is not a long-term commitment. They have over a thousand (if not thousands) of volunteers so I only have to sign up at my convenience; otherwise, the role will be filled up by others anyway.
I started doing volunteering work because it was aspirational. I knew it’s something I’d like to do when I first heard about it. I liked the idea of me doing volunteer work.

So I continued to be a volunteer even after a detour in life.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer. I spent 9 months in and out of hospital that year. I’m all good now. And while it’s still an aspiration to do volunteering work, the detour in life made me realize another aspect of volunteering.
I realized that being able to volunteer our time and energy is a privilege. 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.

I recognize that helping others is a privilege and we never know when this privilege may be taken away from us or when the privilege may need to be compromised so I choose to continue to volunteer after cancer.
Besides volunteering with World Vision, I am also a Child Sponsor. Guess when I started becoming a Child Sponsor? The year I was diagnosed with cancer.

It has always been an aspiration to be a child sponsor when I first heard about it but I am like most people out there; I procrastinated. Always waiting for that one day when I think I earn enough to be able to commit. That year when I got cancer, I gave myself a Sponsored Child as my birthday present. Because if I still didn’t act at that time, then when?
Lastly, I would like to say that volunteering is great but let’s not stop here. Talk about YOU volunteering on social media, WhatsApp groups or mamak hangout with friends.

When I signed up to be a Child Sponsor, I wrote about it on my blog and shared it on Facebook. I did not expect that it’d actually influence my friends to also sponsor a child but it did! I recall at least 4 friends informed me that they are sponsoring a child themselves too after reading the story.

Last year, I volunteered at a 30-Hour Famine DIY Camp and posted about it the night before the camp. Just a Facebook post of my banana leaf rice because I was going to go hungry the following day. I also mentioned if anyone wants to support the cause, they can contact me to channel their donations. Overnight, a friend and a colleague texted me to donate. The following week another colleague approached me in person and handed me RM500 donation. Wow.

I absolutely did not expect a slightly longer Facebook posts would be able to drive donation. So don’t underestimate the power of social media. No harm sharing the experience anyway. After all, the memories made from the experience are worth documenting too.

I absolutely did not speak fluently as per the script. In fact, I took almost 20 minutes to finish the above. But I’m proud of myself regardless because I feel that I made an impact. #syoksendiri

Also, I gained something unexpected as well. I met a fellow young cancer survivor in the tiny crowd! Colorectal cancer at 22-years-old! The resourceful him tagged me on his Instagram Stories saying, “Found another cancer survivor”, seconds after my presentation. We chatted after the event and it felt like meeting an old friend even though we never met before because — OMG — how many young colorectal cancer survivors are there out there?! He’s the youngest I met so far.

What a pleasant outcome from the event. Totally unexpected but totally amazing. Hope to see him in World Vision and Young Survivors Group events!

By the way, if you want to be a volunteer with World Vision, sign up here. They have a Facebook Page for World Vision Volunteers as well for updates.

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