Kindness, Help, Volunteering, a step by step approach Lecture at Nesfield International College (PART I)

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Part I: Key concepts

Let’s start with some key concepts

What is helping?

It is basically meeting a critical need faced or experienced by a person in any difficult circumstances

Why do people help?


 The feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else's feelings (

Empathy is something that everybody should embrace. It is something we born with or at least we are supposed to be born with but it can be developed. It depends also on the people. We can nourish it step by step by small act of kindness, help and volunteering.

When was the last time you helped someone? You can start with a simple act of kindness

How common is to help people? How often do we do it? A simple act of kindness can be also helping. Even smiling at someone can be considered an act of kindness. For example near my home there is an old uncle, he spends most of his time on the balcony, looking at world “out there”. I made a habit to waive my hands and greet him all the time I pass by his house. I do not know his name, he does not know mine but still every time he sees me, he is happy and always say hallo. By doing something so simple, I also feel happy. Let’s not forget something very important, smiling is a great thing, do as much as you can.

Now another question: Are you helping simply because you are from social work background?

It is too easy, isn’t it? I wish we could have here some folks from engineering, commerce, biology, something extremely technical. Because according to you does an astronaut, you know what is it, right? (the guy who goes to space, to the moon) volunteer?

Why not? Volunteering is basically an extension of helping. To summarize you can start with something small and slowly “upgrade it”. For example

  • 1st milestone: An act of kindness: you smile at someone. There are thousands small/micro ways to show a bit of kindness. You can choose.
  • 2nd milestone: A bit more of effort: help someone cross the road
  • 3rd Milestone: You get organized and committed: you start a volunteering action
  • 4th Milestone: Upgrading “Add some extra miles”: start thinking something bigger, more organized

These are 4 milestones that simply prove that helping can take multiple forms and ways; it is really up to the person to decide how to start.

Let’s say that ideally the two initial milestones should be the minimum pre-requisites to be a decent person.

I mean, does it cost a lot to smile at someone? Does it cost a lot to show a bit of understanding, lower down your ego’s level and try, sincerely, to put yourselves in the other’s shoes?

Just imagine yourself in a difficult situation; well I guess it is nice to have someone sympathetic with you, someone who, at least, tries to think as s/he were you.

So basically this is minimum common decency we, as human being, should always have and manifest.

What is volunteering after all?

Then we can try to do more, step by step. After all what is volunteerism? It is a more organized way of helping. Again it is really up to you to decide what to do and how to do but volunteering basically is something you do with certain awareness. Awareness is not enough. We also need commitment

So in short when we talk about volunteerism or better say helping someone if we want to stick to the basic, we can talk about a journey with a double dimension:

First Dimension: from simple to more complex/organized

Second Dimension: from spontaneity ( a smile, I mean, smiling should come naturally right, maybe at the beginning you think if that person deserves or not your smile, but ultimately it should come very easily..) to something more engaging. In short volunteering requires a commitment.

Volunteering as a Commitment

Yes volunteering is a commitment of time, resource and skills. Basically when we talk about volunteering we are talking about one of more complexes, demanding form of generosity.

Because volunteering actually is a form of philanthropy, that basically is about donating something. When people think about donations, we always think about money. This is something totally wrong.

Volunteering is probably the best way of philanthropy. It is also the most difficult because you need to “get the hands dirty.” It requires an effort, as we said before, it requires a commitment.

Motivation is fundamental!

If you want to do big things, you need to be super involved, passionate. You need to believe in what you do. Because volunteering oftentimes is not easy at all. Actually we just said that volunteering is about getting your hands “dirty”. Plus you need to put your time and actually we know that time is the most important asset, even more important than money.

The Challenge

How can we create a movement of “engaged” persons, persons who care about the society, people who care about others?

We go back to what I was saying at the beginning, we need to have Astronauts or plane’s pilots. Because we at ENGAGE believe in an “volunteering inspired society”  where everybody can volunteer.

Inclusive Volunteering

Here when I say everybody, I really mean every single one. We actually at ENGAGE we call inclusive volunteering because we believe that also persons living with disabilities can be volunteer. Why not?

You can watch this video with my friends Sushil Adhikari and Barat The Tiger in the Wheelchair.

Actually at ENGAGE we believe that volunteerism can be a fantastic platform for persons living with disabilities to reclaim their space in the society. In short volunteering can be the best “vehicle” for a better society, a more inclusive society where everybody can really help each other.

So we need also to open up our mind frame: a person living with disabilities cannot just be helped but s/he can help.

Why volunteering?

Reason I: volunteering can really improve your way of living, it is a real energizer, it gives you satisfaction, it is hard to measuring   or describing about what is  “feeling good” .Volunteering can improve your “Well Being” that is described as “feeling good and doing good well both physically and emotionally”( State of the World Volunteering Report 2011). By volunteering you can stay healthy it is proven) and also happy.

Reason II: you get new skills, you learn new stuff, it is really a learning experience and you learn practical skills that you can use in your work, it can be really anything and I believe it is important to think about different way of learning now you are going to learn overseas. You know very well that learning goes much beyond the text books

Reason III: network, you can meet people, create new connections that can help you in your career. That’s a bit what we do at ENGAGE, offering opportunities for


to be continued

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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