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Summertime with voluntarism

Summertime is here, and school is over. For most of us, I believe that this is the childhood time that remains in our memories as we get older. School stress is on a halt, at least for a while, and playing and hanging out with our friends become high on the agenda. For some of us, summer may not have really been a break-time. I remember enrolling in summer classes to support my academic performances in the coming academic year or as a preparation for coming-up national exams. Although I like the fact that children use part of their breaks as preparation of the coming school year, I am also not really fond of the fact that the only time for breaks is used up for an additional school time and more stress.

The recent move by the Ethiopian government to promote voluntarism among Ethiopians is one to be commended. I believe this is one good way of spending your summertime vacation, especially for youngsters and children. I believe voluntarism benefits a multitude of parties. The recipients, the volunteers, the government and the society at large all benefit from voluntarism. The benefit for the recipient of voluntarism is the obvious one. Voluntarism greatly reduces the burden of the government to improve access to education, access to health services, access to sanitation, etc., and to reduce poverty in general. A large amount of tax money that should have been spent on poverty reduction and livelihood improvement activities is greatly saved through voluntarism. Through the poverty and inequality reduction effects of voluntarism, and also simply because voluntarism means extending an arm of kindness to others, society at large benefits with reduced crimes and hostility.    

The benefits to the providers of voluntarism are numerous. Particularly to youngsters, spending time on others with no expectation of a return, summertime spent on voluntarism can be one of the best times spent during vacations. For one, Ethiopian youngsters can see the reality of their country through voluntarism. Sometimes, when one is brought up in a very confortable environment, one tends to think that his/her world is the only world out there. Children and youngsters should get to know and engage with others who live in situations that are less fortunate than theirs. This can help them appreciate what they have and never take it for granted. It further helps them to be more understanding, compassionate and tolerant of others who are less fortunate than they are. Voluntarism is a humbling experience that greatly reduces feelings of contempt and arrogance. Second, voluntarism helps youngsters to think beyond themselves. They learn to be selfless, and that the excess that they have brings more happiness when shared with others. Third, voluntarism is an opportunity to show youngsters that there is something they can do to make this world a better world. They will learn that they have a share and responsibility in making this world better with the little that they have. They will learn that one needs not to be rich to give away something to the less fortunate.  Voluntarism teaches youngsters responsibility towards their country and fellow countrymen. And of course, voluntarism is a great diversion from bad habits such as drugs, drinking and others.

So, thumbs-up to the government’s move on voluntarism! Summer\time with opportunities for real-life lessons is now available for our youngsters! Let this not be a one summertime thing and let the government remind us every year that summertime spent on voluntarism is the best summer time spent! Let the government further instill the culture of voluntarism among Ethiopians!

Contributed by Tsion Taye
Contributed by Tsion Taye