In the last part of this series we focused on why volunteering can be an springboard for gaining numerous skills and making a difference to the Muslim community. I want to now focus on the practical elements of getting involved in volunteering (hopefully having convinced you that giving up your time for a worthy cause leads to multiple benefits!) and share some tips here which will guide you through the process of becoming a volunteer.
1. Explore the organisation
Whilst it seems obvious, the first step to take in volunteering is to learn as much as you can about the organisation you want to volunteer for but more importantly choosing an organisation which matches your values and interests. Try to explore what areas they may have a need in and check out their website to learn about volunteering opportunities, you could even set up an initial meeting with them.
2. Lay out clear guidelines
One of the reasons why volunteers suffer from an possible unproductive experience when working with an organisation may be due to the lack of guidelines which are in place for some organisations regarding their volunteers. It is very important that as a volunteer you make clear what work you can commit to and agree the hours, at the end of the day – the organisation should agree on your terms since you’ll be offering time outside of other commitments. This also helps to make the experience more one of responsible work and allows you to hold yourself to account for your own work.
3. Track progress
I’ve never learnt as much about my own ways of working than through voluntary work; it’s revealed areas of weakness and potential development in me as well as exposed my strengths. Being able to monitor your progress on a project offers you insights on how you’re working on agreed targets with a manager and most importantly will help you feel an integral part of the organisation’s mission.
4. Use initiative and lead
One of the keys to being an reliable and successful volunteer is to use your own initiative and lead in your ideas provided the relevant people in the organisation approve. This is really your opportunity to seize in running your own initative hopefully on a project you’re passionate about and feel it worth investing your creative energy into, plus the organisation will admire your self-led approach to work.
5. Share experiences
Lastly, share your experiences of volunteering as they may spark interest in other young people looking to offer their time to valuable causes and organisations. Volunteer experiences can bring an enriching insight into what you learnt for others but also provides great reflection opportunity for yourself.
Below is an excellent opportunity for UK residents who may want to volunteer for an amazing volunteer experience in Bosnia, read more about the experiences of last year’s volunteer and send in an application!
‘Words and pictures will never be enough to describe the experience I had in Bosnia this year. Before coming I had various expectations of a remote and possibly hostile region, fed by misinformed stereotypes from people in England. I was not only proved wrong, but moved to tears on many occasions out of every part of life in what is a beautiful country.
From entering the historic city of Sarajevo, to the rugged mountains of the Mars Mira (peace march) walk and living with the warmest souls I believe I will ever come across, the trip was faultless. It was testament to the hard work done behind the scenes by MADE In Europe, the partner organisation in Bosnia (and those in Sarajevo) and of course our host families, who accommodated us as though we were their own.
We had succeeded in our mission of helping set up two strawberry farms and the money from fundraising would provide 2 genocide-returnee families with income for a year’s living, an incredible feat to say the least. On another level, we had far exceeded our expectations of moulding into a new culture and experiencing traditional Bosnian life. Mawlids, mosque openings, memorials, village food, farming, Mars Mira and coffee were only some of the tastes we had in our brief stay.
My lasting memories will be of the jaw-dropping mosques and sounds of Arabic in such remote villages. It was a pleasure and a great educational experience to see Islam practiced so openly in this nation. To see blonde-haired, blue-eyed men, women and children greeting me with “Assalamalejk” and an ear to ear smile melted my heart a little more on every occasion. Such warm and hospitable people need to be seen first hand and have their stories told.
Bosnia has been through a lot in recent times, and on the surface it appears to be as healthy as any other European nation, the only physical signs of war in mass graves or bullet-laden buildings. However, deep under the thin cover of peace is a psychological tension between Bosniaks and Serbs. Living in Republica Serbska is not easy for a family who had relatives killed and their land taken away. Today, Serbs are now the majority in this area of Bosnia, and every bit of help is needed to support the returning Bosnians to their land. May God protect the Bosnian people from whatever force prevents them for living their simple, yet incredible lives. And you can take it from me, what a lively bunch they are…
I would highly recommend the project for anyone with an interest in volunteering or working abroad with NGOs. It entails a lot of hard work and effort before deployment with regards to training and fundraising but this pays off on the journey where you can see first-hand the benefits of your own grafting. The only downfall is that there is a lasting feeling of regret upon leaving the country!’
By Wasim Mir, Bosnia: The Journey 2011 Volunteer
MADE in Europe is a UK-based charity which aims to mobilise young Muslims to take action on global poverty through campaigning and volunteering. For more information and to apply for next year’s Bosnia: The Journey programme please visitwww.madeineurope.org.uk/madethejourney. Closing date for applications 28 November 2011.
Check out this short video about next year’s programme here.
Below is the Ultimate Campaign Toolkit from MADE designed to empower young Muslims with the basic skills to volunteer!
About the Author
Beeworker is an aspiring Productive Muslimah who seeks to spread goodness through her active involvement in projects that make a difference to her society. Follow her work at: http://beeworker.blogspot.com