Wednesday, December 2, 2009

International Volunteer Day: Celebrating volunteerism in Kuala Lumpur

Of all the United Nations observance days, my favourite has got to be International Volunteer Day, which is celebrated on 5th December annually. International Volunteer Day is a day to honour and celebrate volunteers and to enable and empower volunteers to share their experience and resources, and to motivate others to commit time and energy to volunteering.

Why volunteer? As a volunteer with several organisations, I am frequently called upon to speak to youths and new volunteers. Faith groups, youth groups and special interest groups have their own reasons for promoting and advocating volunteer work, but what would impel individuals to invest their time, energy and resources in public interest work that would bring them very few, if any, tangible returns? My arguments in support of volunteering are as follows:
1. Volunteers perform a valuable community service that has economic worth. I have always believed that if governments and public bodies had to pay wages for the service that is rendered by volunteers, the economy could very possibly collapse overnight.
2. Volunteering exposes volunteers to a wide range of experiences, people and situations that they would not usually encounter in their daily work. These experiences help us develop our capacity to cope with crises, difficult and frustrating situations, and learn how to manage time, people and (often very limited) resources to the best of our ability. It also helps develop perseverance, commitment and resilience, qualities that would stand one in good stead in life.
3. Volunteering empowers you to be the difference you want to see.

Malaysians are blessed with mind-blowing generosity and compassion, and a large number do volunteer for various causes. In commemorating and celebrating International Volunteer Day 2009, I have decided to feature some of my favourite organizations and opportunities for volunteering with them.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor

Jalan Kerja Air Lama, 68000 Ampang, Selangor.
Animal Shelter & Admin Dept: 03-4256 5312/ 4253 5179 (8.30am - 4pm Daily)
Public Relations Dept & Inspectorate: 03-4253 5312 (10am – 6.30pm Daily)
Fax: 03-4252 8382
SPCA Selangor

I started volunteering with the SPCA in 1996. My responsibilities then include bathing and grooming animals, preparing food, cleaning kennels, washing food and water bowls, assisting in fundraising and outreach activities, illustrating posters, drafting articles and letters, administering medication and attending to visitors and adopters.

As a senior volunteer today, I still perform the duties described above, but my responsibilities have increased to include drafting and reviewing documents and correspondence, assisting the Inspectorate, organising events and fundraisers, training new volunteers and engaging in policy and advocacy work.

Here I am shampooing and tickwashing dogs in a candid photo taken in 2007/2008.

Feel the love! This friendly little dog gave me a lick as I was cleaning kennels sometime in 2008.

What you can do:
If you have experience with animals, the SPCA always needs volunteers who are able to foster young animals at home until they are strong enough to be re-homed. We also need sensible volunteers for the following animal care duties: bathing and grooming animals, administering tickwash, cleaning the shelter, preparing food, washing food and water bowls and handling animals. Non-animal care related duties would include manning the outreach booth, assisting in fundraisers such as the quarterly Jumble Sale in the shelter premises, cleaning and painting the shelter, website and merchandise design and office work (filing and organizing documents, answering phone calls, attending to visitors and customers, helping out in the Charity Shop).

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS)

MNS Selangor Branch,
JKR 641, Jalan Kelantan,
Bukit Persekutuan,
50480 Kuala Lumpur.
603-2287 9422/ 2287 3304/ 2287 3306.
603-2287 8773
Malaysian Nature Society

The Malaysian Nature Society’s objectives and areas of work include environmental conservation, environmental and nature education and establishing and managing nature parks. In 2008, MNS was accorded the Merdeka Award for the ‘education and community’ category, a deserved honour indeed for the nation’s oldest volunteer-based environmental organization.

I joined the Malaysian Nature Society in 2000/2001 and commenced volunteering on the day I signed up. In 2006, I accepted the challenge of establishing and coordinating a new Special Interest Group called Green Living. I was coordinator from 2006 to 2009, and at the same time, started a family-based programme called Eco Kids, which has its own monthly column in the newsletter and periodic nature camps and outings. Today, I am a committee member for the Selangor Branch and my duties include policy, advocacy, education and outreach work.

Public speaking skills are essential as an MNS volunteer. Here I am explaining waste management practices to members of the public at FRIM.

In 2008, I was accorded the MNS Branch Award for the service I rendered as a coolie major slave volunteer.

What you can do:
The MNS volunteer base is made up almost entirely of registered members. Membership is necessary for reasons of policy and legal indemnity/waiver. Volunteers are required to, inter alia, manage activity and outreach booths, talk to students and the public about the environment, conduct outings, expeditions, seminars and talks, coordinate cleanup campaigns, coordinate and assist in community events, draft articles and reports, and initiate or assist in data collection and research work. However, members of the public, including school and college students and corporate volunteers, also participate in large-scale community events such as our annual Raptor Watch Week and biannual Open Day.

Bar Council Legal Aid Centre Kuala Lumpur

Bar Council Legal Aid Centre Kuala Lumpur
Tingkat 6, Wisma Kraftangan,
No. 9, Jalan Tun Perak,
50050 Kuala Lumpur
03-26913005 / 26932072

The Bar Council Legal Aid Centre (BCLAC) was founded by the Malaysian Bar Council with the ideal of affording citizens equal opportunity for the enforcement of their fundamental right to equality before the law. It is funded by the sole contribution of members of the Bar and cases are taken on a voluntary basis by dedicated lawyers.

I had volunteered with the BCLAC both in the advocacy and policy programme in cooperation with PT Foundation Malaysia and as a volunteer counsel in industrial relations matters.

What you can do:
Although only Advocates and Solicitors of the High Court of Malaya are allowed to take up BCLAC files, undergraduates and law students and lawyers who are no longer in practice also have the opportunity to assist in research, file management and clerical work.

Waterfall Survivors
Facebook Page: Save Our Waterfalls

Waterfall Survivors is a Facebook group founded by a dynamic young lady named Joe Yap to explore wild, scenic waterfalls in Malaysia and to clean them up. The group has over 4,000 members, many of whom have participated in the waterfall cleanups. The last cleanup I was involved in was on 25th October 2009 at the Kanching Recreational Forest.

Kanching Recreational Forest, 25th October 2009. "350" stands for 350 parts of CO2 per million, which is the target environmental groups have set for the international community.

What you can do:
Join the Facebook Group and keep yourself updated on their latest campaigns. Assist in their cleanup campaigns and bring your friends and family along. Be a sensible volunteer: Bring your own latex/gardening gloves, drinking water, sunblock and mosquito repellent, and be aware of and prepared for the risk of injuries, insect/animal bites, heatstroke and accidents.

Eco Warriors
Facebook Page: Eco Warriors

Eco Warriors is a Klang Valley-based citizens’ action group set up by Matthias Gelber, the ‘Greenest Man on the Planet’. Part of the appeal of the Eco Warriors Facebook Group lies in the fact that it is non-hierarchical and does not require registration or a membership fee. Among the activities conducted by the Group are tree-planting, farm work (they spend most weekends at Bandar Harapan, an organic farm dedicated to helping the underprivileged be self-sufficient), trail/river/park/jungle cleanups, community workshops (on recycling, composting, et cetera) and participating in community events such as Wild Asia’s Tree Party.

What you can do:
Sign up to be a member of the Facebook Group and assist in cleanup projects, tree-planting campaigns, farm work and community activities.

Food Not Bombs Kuala Lumpur

Website/Weblog: Food Not Bombs
Facebook Page: FNB KL

(I have written about Food Not Bombs KL in an earlier post.)

What you can do:
Food Not Bombs welcomes the assistance of volunteers who can contribute and prepare vegetarian food (sandwiches, biscuits, fruit, rice, noodles etc.), transport it to the area where food will be served, serve the clients and tidy up after all food has been consumed.

Independent Pet Rescuers

Website/Weblog: Rescue 2 Rehome

The Independent Pet Rescuers was founded by Sherrina Krishnan, a KL-based social and animal rights activist who is a strong proponent of the no-kill policy. The Independent Pet Rescuers practice TNR (Trap, Neuter and Release) of stray animals that they are unable to re-home, but place emphasis on fostering, vaccinating, neutering and rehabilitating animals in order that all animals have a chance of being adopted. In the few years that they have been in operation, the Independent Pet Rescuers have managed to re-home hundreds of animals in need.

What you can do:
The Independent Pet Rescuers need fosterers who can assist in feeding, cleaning and rehabilitating cats and dogs. Volunteer fosterers must be prepared to bring pets to qualified veterinarians for treatment and provide post-treatment/post-surgery care. Animals must be fostered until they are strong and healthy enough to be safely put up for adoption.

What will YOU be doing this International Volunteer Day? Please leave me a comment to let me know either what you will be doing on December 5 to honour and observe International Volunteer Day, or what you pledge to support, assist or get involved in commencing International Volunteer Day, and you might just receive a set of limited edition, commercially-unavailable Green Living bookmarks as featured below!

Blog Swag: Leave me a comment and these gorgeous Green Living bookmarks may just find their way to you!

Be A Volunteer: Because sharing is a privilege and a pleasure!


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mamasita said...

E.Lynn..please suggest to your anon 11.07 reader that the Yayasan Nur Salam Foundation houses all kinds of children from the street homeless kids to those abandoned to those with emotional home problems..I read at Pi Bani's blog.
Run by Dr Hartini Zainuddin, they are in need of volunteers apart from whatever other normal assistance..I heard she has not refused any that has been sent to her home.
I know Dr Hartini very well. Her mum is a Chinese and her late Dad is my uncle.
Born from an extremely wealthy family, she has now dedicated her heart and soul to all these unfortunate children from personal as well as self-raised funds.
Check it out..maybe you can get anon a volunteer job there k..

p.s. I do read all your entries but kadang2 blank tak tahu nak comment! Cheers!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Thank you, Datin Mamasita! What a funny coincidence, I was about to contact Yayasan Nur Salam sometime next week to conduct an educational programme with them! That is a good idea. So good of you to drop by and leave a helpful comment. I really appreciate it. Anon tu dah delete comment sendiri, bukan I yang delete, LOL. Maybe she/he will repost later with an identity, kot?

Bernie said...

Love the fact you included the contact nos, email adds, website for these orgs you are involved in.

Its amazing how you find time for them all !!

You know what, if govt paid for all the volunteers work, the economy could boom and we'll be out of recession next quarter. Monies in the volunteers pockets translate to higher demands for goods and services!!

I like the way you wrote "major coolie slave" and then crossed it out and replaced it by the word "volunteer"!!!

Great snippets of how people can get involved and manage our own expectations.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

LOL! Thank you so much for your comment, Bern! Really appreciate it. I was hoping the blogpost won't appear too narcissistic, but I can only write about what I know best.... hence personal experiences and narrations! Those of us old fogeys in Selangor Branch -- you, Lillian, Lili, Pasu, James, TW, -- are all crossed-out major slaves and coolies too, aren't we all?

Minyi said...

Hey perhaps we have the common direction! I'm also working on community service and environmental projects too. It's really glad to see people around like you making an effort to help the others. Great enthusiasm! I will definitely vote for you!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Thank you for your visit and your vote, Minyi! I agree with you. Volunteering shouldn't be about doing something visible for the sake of publicity or in order to have a post for the Blog4FT contest. It should be second nature to us to take action to improve things that are causing us dissatisfaction.

iLiYamashita said...

thats a lot of organizations... wow. how did you manage? you gave me the confidence to join many other organizations! after i finished my studies la.
tabik spring lah!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Erm, is that you, Ili? A bit confused now by the unexpected Japanese name! Yes, do focus on your studies first and volunteer only during your break! See you on Saturday and thank you for making the 'caterpillars' for the Camp! Thank you for dropping by! I will visit your blog soon!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Anonymous at 7.48 p.m., I'm not sure what destiny and fate has to do with International Volunteer Day, but thank you most kindly for your timely reminder and thank you for your visit.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Great scott, Ee Lynn! You're doing superbly well! You have a generous and giving heart. Here's to volunteerism!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Thanks so much, Keats! Happy International Volunteer Day! Leaving to conduct the Eco Kids Junior Day Camp in half an hour. Thought I'd check my mail before I go. Pity you won't be able to join us today. Maybe next time, yes? Next school hols am planning one for tweens-teens.

iLiYamashita said...

yeah, its me!! ahah! sure, do visit my blog if you have the time~~ hehe.
cant wait for my 2 weeks break starting on 19th! woohoo! right after the final exam!!! hahah!! no more exams after that. i think i'll be volunteering(/working as some of us call it. i dun like it when they're volunteering for money n not for sharing) for a few days during that break.

katztales said...

Great overviews; useful stuff. I'll recommend this to people who say they want to do something. Mind you, this usually translates as "I'll think about it and talk about it and do nothing..." But still, maybe one will be for real.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ellen! Yes, I do hope that this post would be at least of some help to those who want to get started. So many people brag about what they want to do but never really commit any time to it. Malaysians seem to think that 'charity work' is something you do when you're rich or retired.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Hello again, Ili The Amazing Creator of Disappearing Paper Caterpillars, ha ha! Thank you for being such a good volunteer on Saturday. Hope you had fun too. I konked out by 3 or 4 p.m. Did you?

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Yoohoo!!! Knock knock! It's me! My Mama says if ever we move to Malaysia we'll sure sign up for the cat foster-er programme. Will having more than 6 kitties under one roof still make us eligible? har har har... purr...meow!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Kitties-in-Sydney!!! How good of you to visit! Of course you'll be eligible. Will Brad get jealous of other male cats, though? Whenever I foster very young kittens, I keep them confined in a big cage, just in case something happens while I'm at work.

Cat-in-Sydney said...

How about if we put Brad in the cage while the kittens roam the house freely? *evil laughs*
Thing is, Tom is the King at our Malaysian house. We'll ask his permission first, OK? purrr....meow!

iLiYamashita said...

Ili The Amazing Creator of Disappearing Paper Caterpillars?? hahahhaha. hooooo... i still feel bad for the kids... no la. i didnt konked out la. after i went back, i opened my book as well as turned on the tv. 2-in-1. i got japanese proficiency tests (level 2 and 1) on sunday.