News

The Power of Volunteerism: community development, Faaiq 22 years old

17 August 2018

For me it all started through volunteerism.

As a young person I am quite passionate about youth empowerment, environmental awareness and community development. I strongly believe that through volunteerism youth can bring a very positive impact in their communities. To that end, we need to be at the forefront of youth engaging initiatives.

Since 2011 I have been involved in all kinds of activities. I started volunteering with Maldivian Red Crescent and that experience changed my life. By learning about civic education, values such as solidarity, reciprocity, mutual trust, belonging and empowerment, I was able to find my role in my community. Now I am an active citizen organizing all sorts of events that will benefit the well-being of everyone in my island.

Civic education is life changing. As we become aware of our human rights - gender equality, freedom of expression, you name it - everything changes.

I was exposed to a lot of people from various backgrounds who were educated in their respective fields and who often come to Addu to provide civic education sessions and other relevant trainings. They planted a seed in me and now I am the co-founder of a news website called "adduLIVE". We launched the website on 1st January 2013 and since then we create community-based content that engage people in policy making efforts, inviting them to have critical thinking and explaining how to address community challenges.

I want to create opportunities.

People need to raise their voices. I am raising my voice so other people know what their rights are, to bring them environmental awareness and mobilize the community to participate in environmental awareness activities. Recently, we organized a beach cleaning over the weekend. The activity started with 10 volunteers and within half an hour we doubled the size of people joining us. That is when you know that you are doing things right.

You have to be the change you want to see in the world and lead by example.

I bring these values to my full-time job as well. As an operations officer in a water bottling company, I make sure that we have the best practices in place. For instance, currently we produce 5 gallon barrels which are reusable. By not selling single use plastic bottles, last year we saved 36 tons of plastic from being thrown as garbage.

In the future I would like to see more young people involved in decision making, their voice and energy will bring the country forward.

Compared to Male’, Addu is quite peaceful. We have more space, isn’t crowded at all and the scenery is quite nice, especially the link road connecting four or five islands, you can drive through the islands. I don’t want to leave my island but I do wish that in the future people living in the islands have access to the same opportunities available in Male’.

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Volunteerism is a basic expression of human relationships. It is about people’s need to participate in their societies and to feel that they matter to others. We strongly believe that the social relationships intrinsic to volunteer work are critical to individual and community well-being.

The ethos of volunteerism is infused with values such as solidarity, reciprocity, mutual trust, belonging and empowerment, all of which contribute significantly to quality of life. Volunteerism makes a specific contribution by generating well-being for people and their communities.

Many are in the forefront of efforts to improve the way they and their fellow citizens are governed and engaged. Moreover, volunteers are playing a vital role in making governments worldwide more accountable and responsive to their citizens.

They are working with governments and civil society to hold those in power to account and to represent the voices of those who are often left out of development decisions such as women, youth and marginalized groups. The end result is more inclusive - and ultimately more effective - development.

Text & Photos ©Tatiana Almeida/UNFPA Maldives