Turn your passion into compassion.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” A man for others, he was a passionate advocate of peace and justice who devoted his life to making a positive change in the world.
Like Gandhi, each of us can find purpose by following our passions. This also applies to volunteerism. There are so many causes and foundations, organizations and charities that it’s hard to find the one for you. Our advice? Follow your heart. Find a cause that inspires and fulfills you and volunteer more than just your time—share your talent and knowledge.
Volunteer work is a rewarding experience that taps directly into your passion and encourages you to grow as a person all while making a difference in your community. Here are a few you can sign up for.
If you’re passionate about kids
Do you often end up the designated nanny of your friends’ kids by default? If you’re naturally good with kids, you should consider volunteering for Virlanie. Since 1997, the Virlanie Foundation has been helping abused and abandoned kids start a new life, taking care of more than 1.8 million street children in the Philippines who are in need of safe homes, good education, and immediate health care. You can organize outreach programs like pool parties or trips to the museum, volunteer to teach kids arts and crafts or sports, or, if you live abroad, sponsor kids or entire outreach programs.
If kids think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread (with peanut butter and jelly!), here’s another foundation you can sign up for. All Together in Dignity is a global organization with a mission to overcome poverty in the poorest regions around the world. They have offices in 34 countries that work round the clock to serve their vision. You can volunteer to run a writing, music, or art workshop, teach kids to read and write through their Ang Galing program, or join their Volunteer Corps.
If you’re passionate about helping poor communities
Globally, Habitat for Humanity pioneers projects that are committed to building safe, decent, and affordable homes for the poor. Don’t worry if you’re clueless about construction or you’ve never held a hammer in your life. All you need is willingness to work hard and get your hands dirty. In their Juan Build program, they’ll teach you everything you need to know on-site—you could be asked to build blocks, twist steel rods, or sift cement.
In their Juan Brigade program, which is focused on community building rather than actually building a house, volunteer groups are asked to conduct programs like community clean-up and social enterprise coaching seminars.
And if you have old furniture just lying around the house, you can also donate these through the “Share the Love: Donate to Restore” program. Now that’s making a house a home from the inside out!
Gawad Kalinga’s mission is to end poverty for five million families by 2024. GK empowers poor communities by providing an environment where families are given opportunities to become productive members of society. You can help by simply buying products from GK brands like Human Nature, Harvest, and Bayani Brew.
Or, if you have the time, you can sign up for one of GK’s volunteer activities. Handy in the kitchen? You can join the kitchen crew of their Kusina ng Kalinga program, where you’ll prep lunch meals for street kids, public school students, and children in conflict areas. If you can’t even make toast without turning it to charcoal, don’t fret. There are plenty of other activities you can join based on your talents or interests. They organized a marathon in Tawi-Tawi and regularly conduct Bayani Challenge activities. Keep checking their website for ongoing or upcoming events.
If you’re passionate about pets
PAWS (The Philippine Animal Welfare Society)
If you’re a pet lover, donations in kind, service, or financial support are always welcome at PAWS. Depending on your interests and talents, you can help by taking care of the animals at the center, donating goods, or even organizing animal awareness campaigns.
If you and your dog qualify, you guys can even join the Dr. Dog Program under Animal Asia, where your fluffy best friend can work as a therapy dog. Or if you have room in your home (and heart), you can foster or adopt a rescue animal. And if you’re the proud owner of an aspin, you can join the PAWS Aspin Club and become an advocate for our native dogs!
CARA (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) Welfare Philippines
From adoption to fundraising and website development, there are different committees at CARA that you can join. Many CARA members have been involved in information and education campaigns, as well as fieldwork such as spaying and neutering stray cats and dogs. They help find homes for strays, too.
One of their committees is the Laguna Pit Bull Project, which focuses on the rehabilitation of the pit bulls CARA rescued in 2012 from a Laguna dog fighting operation. You can adopt or sponsor a pit bull, or help rehabilitate one through socialization. Depending on your skills and experience, you can become a dog walker, an assistant dog trainer, or a groomer. There are a lot of ways you can become involved in the project. Check out helpsavethepitbulls.com for more information.
If you’re passionate about the environment
Haribon’s ROAD (Rainforestation Organizations and Advocates) to 2020 program aims to restore one million hectares of rainforests in the Philippines by 2020. You can help them achieve this goal by supporting any of their projects: For their Adopt a Seedling project, you can adopt a native tree seedling for only P350, and Haribon will take care of your adopted tree for three years. For the Nurture a Tree project, Haribon will nurture a previously planted seedling in your name for a year for only P100. For the Give a Gift Tree project, your P125 donation gets you a Gift Tree Pack. Interested in something more hands on? Why not join one of their tree planting events?
Calling all beach bums! This is a cause that’s probably close to your hearts. You can do your part in keeping our world-renowned waters pristine and protecting the unique biodiversity in our oceans. Save Philippine Seas does research as well as lobbies for the enforcement of environmental laws. The organization welcomes interested philanthropists to share their skills in writing, photography, the arts, or any other of the various opportunities listed on the SPS website. You can fill up the volunteer form on their website to get updates on their programs, projects, and campaigns.
Giving back to the community should be a selfless act of love and commitment. Force yourself to do it and you’ll end up whining and cursing the heavens. But if your act of compassion comes from the heart, the sense of fulfillment is heaps more rewarding. You’ll be your own hero, contribute to society, and help save the world—faith in humanity restored!