Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Volunteering

Volunteering is the cheapest & the best way to develop children's character. And it's one of those few things where you gain more than what you give.

We started volunteering regularly few months ago.  Now that the kids are full time at home, they have the luxury of time to do this kind of thing. Before you go "ooohhh & aaahhhh" impressed with my kids, let me put a disclaimer. I dragged them into it. Call me imposing, call me tiger mom, but there are things that I over rule my kids. Volunteering is one of them. Simply because I believe it's the best way to keep them grounded.

In contrast to what many people think, volunteering is a lot of hard work. When my kids volunteered (OK, when I volunteered my kids on their behalf), they did the bulk of the work. Not me.
And it is not always nice and happening. Sometimes, you put so much effort and the organizer don't even acknowledge you. But that's where the beauty lies. You learn when you give, you give sincerely. For the sake of Allah. You don't expect people to appreciate it. Allah knows your intention and that's all that matters.
My kids have learn loads from volunteering. Volunteering get them in touch with reality. They learned there are so many people that live with much lesser than them.
 They learned to work together in a team.
 They discovered their strength. Things they never knew they could do.
They learn how to approach strangers and champion their cause. And they learn that sometimes even a cute face may not be enough to get people to support you. And it's important you don't take it personally and persevere :-)
They met like minded people which is a great experience because it just opens up their mind.
They learned new stuffs. Like Luqman learned how to do an auction. And speak more Malay :-P
They learned in business (whether for charity or not), you need to be aggressive in getting customers. This was very funny. When they were helping out raising funds for a sick baby few months ago, the first customer that came to their booth was from Medina. The older siblings were all playing safe and waited at their booth. Little Missy just went around  the hall and asked the girl "Hey, do you want to come to my booth?" and they got their first customer ;-)
When Hajar & Luqman volunteered for Childline's child advocacy program last year, they learned so much about child rights, media and advocacy. And Hajar spoke in front of thousands of people for the first time in her life.
You can also tie in volunteering activities with your kids' specific interest. This is a picture of the kids doing beach cleaning in Bubble's Dive Resort as part of their volunteering program.
Recently, we started on something more regular. Most of the times, our volunteering activities are a one off thing. I have been looking for something that the kids can do regularly for quite some time. I want them to learn long term commitment. So I was very happy when I found out about Yireh Love Foundation. It's a group of beautiful souls who help out teenagers with special needs. At first, they didn't know how the kids would be able to contribute and fit in. But they are kind enough to let us find out. After 2 sessions, I am very happy to see Luqman & Hajar managed to find ways to contribute and teach the special teenagers.


So really, there is so many benefits of volunteering. Even if your kids are reluctant to do it initially, drag them. The benefits that they gain is so much more than what they give. Think of all the costs of the enrichment classes nowadays. Public speaking, critical thinking, speech & drama, leadership camp etc etc etc. They are sooooooo expensive. What if you can get all those from other means?? Like volunteering?? And you definitely gain much more. And most of the time, it's free of charge. You just need to put in your effort and commitment into it.

If you are looking for volunteering activities, just googled up. Do Something Good is one of the places where you can get started. But seriously, there are plenty of others. Especially for bigger kids. And most of these activities are free of charge. Orphanage, NGOs, youth organizations etc etc. I got a lot of information from Facebook...which explain why I am always online....wakakaka ;-) 

You don't have to be very skillful. There's always something you can do. Everybody can do something. Everybody can make a difference. In our small ways.

5 comments:

  1. U really are inspiring, have yet to do much volunteering except for a book club for the neighborhood.
    Wonder how you made the jump to homeschooling since your son excelled in his PMR. Am still having doubt about the jump, and whether i am making a life changing decision for my child and if i can't cope is there anyway i can go back to conventional schooling.

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  2. A lovely article my dear. May your family touch the lives of many. This lesson in life is far more valuable than reading it from a textbook.... Long live homeschooling. Hugs, Jennifer (orang utara)

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  3. ykristen, I learned a lot from other homeschooling parents too. Before I HS all the kids, I HS my 3rd child who has dyslexia for 1 year. That was in 2012. To get the hang of it. This year we let other kids decide. My son decided to HS. We let him because we feel it's the best way for him to explore his strengths holistically before he embark on college. I strongly believe a kid need more skills to excel and maximize their potential. Unfortunately, our education system only focus on academic. If you need more information, do let me know. The best way is to get connected with HS, and join their activities. Then you can see yourselves whether HS suits your family.

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  4. Thank you Jennifer. U guys inspired me a lot too. Could have not done it without the support from the network.

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