The Positive Impact of Volunteering, Both During a Crisis and Afterwards
It goes without saying that COVID-19 has made an enormous impact on all our lives. Whether it's falling ill, self-isolating, losing a job or business, or worse, losing a loved one, the virus has hit everyone like a tidal wave. And with a lockdown in place, it's easy to see why this all adds up to a negative outlook for the future.
However, something else is happening that might change your mind about how we can look ahead with a sense of cautious optimism. People within their communities are rallying together to volunteer their time or to donate goods to help the most vulnerable people.
In this blog, we'll go into how volunteering can save and uplift communities and how this disaster might see the re-emergence of community spirit.
The Power of Volunteering and Community Action –
To give you some background – African Sunrise is now on hiatus, pending a change in the government's flight restrictions. We're no longer able to organise volunteering and internship programmes for the time being. Although this has devastated our business and we're all struggling, we also firmly back the President's decision to enact a strict level of lockdown.
We work with a fantastic network of NPOs, NGOs and organisations, so it has been difficult knowing they're struggling with the lack of support from us. However, we'll be looking into ways of assisting them during this lockdown while we try and find some grants to keep us from shutting down. While this is all in the pipeline, African Sunrise has been working closely with Breaking Bread Community Development in our local area.
And from being part of various online groups, it's incredible to see just how powerful community organisation and action can be. People who weren't previously involved with organisations are coming together to not only source donations but are challenging the local authorities to safeguard our homeless community.
The truth is, volunteering is a natural human instinct, and it's something we're glad to be a part of. You can see some posts about our joint efforts with Breaking Bread here.
An Uncertain Future for Everyone –
Even in the face of this positive uptake in volunteering, it's still hard to escape the reality of the situation. We all face uncertain futures, and it's easy to let things like financial stability distract us from the severe nature of the virus. That's why this lockdown, though incredibly tricky and possibly financially devasting, will help us prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It might take more involved levels of community action to help our poorest citizens recover. And we're also holding out hope that the government and more affluent South Africans make good on their promises of financial assistance. We expect that some companies won't recover from this and our heart goes out to them, but as a society, we will have to rally together to save families and people wherever possible.
One aspect of this lockdown has made something apparent – there are things that we thought were important that we might now believe otherwise. We'd love to hear more from you all about your lockdown experiences and if there are things you used to think were essential that now seem relatively unimportant.
Could this virus show us a different way of living? Is it possible to live with fewer commodities and stop being so obsessed with consumerism? And what does everyone think about the reduction in pollution levels?
Why Positive Action is Needed Now –
More than ever, we need affirmative action, both locally, nationally, and as a global community. We're going to face some tough decisions soon. Are we willing to make sacrifices to change our impact on the environment? Do we continue to elect right-wing governments who are struggling to prevail or show a consistent message during this crisis? Will we push harder for a more equal society when it's clear that poverty itself is an epidemic?
And in relation to the Western Cape and South Africa – we will, as a wider society, do more to uplift the millions of people who live in townships?
These are but a few questions we can consider moving forward, but the risks of allowing poverty to continue in the face of this type of pandemic couldn't be more apparent. We should rightly celebrate the people who are working tirelessly to help the most vulnerable in our society.
Decisive action is needed now more than ever, but we hope that this is something that will become the norm. The fear is that people will forget about COVID-19 when the dust settles, which is fertile ground for this to happen all over again when the next pandemic occurs.
African Sunrise – We’re Looking Ahead to a Positive Future –
The African Sunrise team might be on hiatus, but we're working within our community to make a positive change. Our team is doing everything in our power to keep our company open so that we're ready to continue the good work we started just over three years ago.
If you'd like to know more about what's happening in our area regarding COVID-19, please contact OBSID who can provide you with more information. We're also happy to refer anyone with donations to a local organisation.
When the travel restrictions ease, we'll update everyone to start taking future bookings for volunteering, internships and field studies. Please feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss a future booking or anything related to this blog.
Please stay safe, take precautions, don't undertake unnecessary journeys, and keep in contact with your family and friends as much as possible. Together, we'll get through this to continue building a more equal society.