Volunteering for the betterment of the larger part of society who still haven’t become rightful ‘partners’ in development is the crucial need of the hour. While the United Nation convention lays out goals to achieve the same as the much-needed commitment the developed world owes the developing world, A set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations aim at making lives better for the billions affected by abject poverty on the planet.
The 17 Sustainable Goals are:
i) No Poverty
ii) Zero Hunger
iii)Good Health And Well-Being
iv) Quality Education
v) Gender Equality
vi) Clean Water and Sanitation
vii) Affordable and Clean Energy
viii) Decent Work and Economic Growth
ix) Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
x) Reduced Inequalities
xi)Sustainable Cities and Communities
xii)Responsible Consumption and Production
xiii) Climate Action
xiv) Life Below Water
xv) Life On Land
xvi) Peace Justice and Strong Institutions
xvii) Partnerships for the goals
The last goal in this list of 17 SDGs, partnerships for the goals recognizes, enables and encourages different stakeholders to head out and actively engage in making the world a better place for the numerous other underserved peoples. The UN collective, thus, categorically recognizes ‘volunteering’ as a tool for bringing in that change. It says: “Volunteerism strengthens civic engagement, safeguards social inclusion, deepens solidarity and solidifies ownership of development results.” Furthermore, The United Nations recognizes that volunteerism helps build capacities and encourages new agenda to take root, it is also a powerful tool in expanding and cross-cutting means of implementation. It further mobilizes and engages people in their own upliftment.
While a lot has been said about how volunteering affects the volunteers, more needs to be said about how volunteering helps to bring in change for the communities on the ground. There are several ways that happen despite what the detractors of volunteering might say.
Here’s how you can volunteer for furthering the spirit and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals:
Ghana is one of the poorest regions of Africa and despite civil society and state interventions, it still battles a low Human Development Index. By doing your bit to contribute for poverty alleviation through community building and community development, you’ll help the country inch a step closer to achieve its Sustainable Development Goal. The responsibilities at this project include assisting in education for young students and children, planning and carrying out renovation work in local communities, participating and exchanging knowledge and experiences with the local community, assisting at a health center amongst others.
Projects offered by VolSol are based in Accra near Tamale, a semi-rural setup in Ghana where volunteers reside with the local communities and aim to work bottom-up.
Food waste management in Portugal is one of the most engaging projects by VolSol that address one of the key elements of Sustainable Development. Shortage of food and widespread hunger has plagued the world’s health and the world’s future at the same time.
Volunteers in this project will actively contribute to fighting food waste and hunger in a structured system that feeds over 3000 people every day. The work will involve helping the local teams in collecting, organizing and distributing the food excess from restaurants and cafés to fight food waste in the city. Volunteers will support a center which recovers food, which is hygienic and in a good condition, from local restaurants, supermarkets, and cafés and re-distribute it among families, elderly and homeless people in need. These are people who need food support to feed them and their families.
Health and Nutrition both are of key importance when it comes to achieving the SDGs of all kinds. It forms the backbone on which the world can prosper inclusively and sustainably. The Public Health and Nutrition Program in the Philippines is an attempt by VolSol to link public health enthusiasts to people in need and make a difference in their lives. Placed in semi-urban and rural areas under trained medical professionals, the Public Health Nutrition Program is a great opportunity for medical health professionals and students to volunteer for the cause of quality health for people from all walks of life.
Education for Girl Children on one of the key sustainable development goals and the Ghana Education project makes a well-thought out contribution to this project. The project lets the participants work in a local school and teach the girls after their formal classes are over. Extra help by volunteers in form of teaching and sourcing stationary for these girls from underserved backgrounds has gone a long way in helping them.
Owing to male-dominated and patriarchal nature of Indian society, many Indian women suffer fight a constant battle inside and outside of their homes. Women are responsible for bearing children, yet they are malnourished and in poor health. Women are also overworked doing both domestic and outside work. A staggering number of Indian women are either illiterate or bereft of quality education. Although the country’s constitution says women have equal status to men, women are powerless and are mistreated inside and outside the home.
The Manual Labour Project in Brazil entails working in a favela, a Brazilian slum area, and helping out the local residents by assisting a better living by constructing homes, painting them, and set up a better colony. A great opportunity to observe and understand the contrasts of a developing country – view the gap between its rich and it’s poor – and help the latter in creating a better life for themselves. Aligning with a sustainable development goal of ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, the Manual Labour volunteering project in Brazil is an outstanding volunteering opportunity to explore.
In a bid to create ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, it’s important to sustain and maintain green coverage in urban areas. The Urban Gardening Project in Brazil facilitates in working in maintaining this crucial green cover in the city. An opportunity to learn tropical gardening, work at the project includes planting, watering, harvesting along with the favela community.
The NGO Support Program in Morocco is a great way to get an insight into the workings of Moroccan civil society. In this program, participants are placed with local NGOs working towards the upliftment of the underserved in Rabat. NGOs focus on many areas of work including human rights, child rights, women’s rights, education, skilled learning, strengthening the government accountability amongst to others.
o conserve “Life On Land” is a part of the SDGs and the Elephant Care Project in Thailand is a step which addresses that. Offered in both Chiang Mai and Surin, volunteers get up, close and personal with elephants in this project and help sustain the elephants, the local mahout community and the larger elephant village through their manual labor and monetary support.
A step to work towards marine conservation which is severely affected by problems of climate change and pollution. Encompassed under the Life Below Water sustainable development goal, this project exposed participants to turtle hatcheries where they are taken care to multiply their endangered population and save them from poaching.
Volunteering abroad, specifically, other than local volunteering, strengthens trans-national engagement between people and involves people into working for the underserved all across the globe as responsible global citizens.
A Culture, Gender And Social Enthusiast, Aparna loves being in and exploring diverse and multicultural setups. She finds solace in humor and reading up all kinds of things, including shampoo bottle directions.
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