Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK
I noticed #volunteersweek trending on Twitter and the messages people were posting about the volunteers that are so important to so many charitable groups. It made me think about how important volunteering is to members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community here in the UK and around the world. In fact volunteering is so much a part of being an Ahmadi Muslim that most of the time we do not even realise that is what we are doing.
From an early age our youth are encouraged to volunteer at events; in fact this process begins with children who are encouraged to help out when they see adults doing so.
Jalsa UK, an annual convention, every summer is a prime example of this; the bulk of the event, hosting over 30,000 people, is set up and run by a team of 5000 volunteers. From installing a water supply system, directing traffic, cooking and serving three meals a day to children keeping guests supplied with water, the event would not be possible without these volunteers. And most of the time you will find these people working long hours with smiles on their faces.
In the parts of Jalsa run by the women’s auxiliary it is the same; teams of women are enabled to work five days accommodating guests from around the world, driving buggies to transport guests and luggage and ensuring toilets and showers are kept clean and well stocked. During the time of the Jalsa programme itself teams are present to direct and assist guests, keep them fed and hydrated, provide first aid and pick up litter.
It is not only during Jalsa that we see volunteers appear; any event during the year is the same with teams of volunteers on standby to make these smaller events successful. The recent Lajna UK meena bazaar, a traditional ladies only fete, was awash with colour and a display of skills in arts and craft as well as home cooked food. The reason it was successful was, of course, the teams of dedicated women creating the beautiful displays, running various stands and cleaning up afterwards.
The numerous fundraising events held by the youth and men’s auxiliaries as well as members of Lajna are so successful because participants and organisers volunteer their time and efforts. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are raised in this way through events at local as well as national level.
So after being given the opportunity and ability to participate in all this volunteering what do the volunteers actually get out of it that keeps them continuing to volunteer? They get to learn skills they would not otherwise learn, the satisfaction of helping others and the ultimate goal, to win the pleasure of God. And, incidentally, as the young are kept busy and given responsibilities in helping others they don’t have the inclination to get involved in any antisocial, misguided activities which is an added by-product.
I have to say though, for most of us we don’t even think that we are specifically volunteering anymore because it has become so much a part of our lives and without it we feel like we’re missing out somehow.
During the time I have been enabled to volunteer at events, I have served water, cleaned toilets, picked up litter, arranged duty rotas, driven golf buggies and served meals to a couple of thousand people at a time. I’ve picked up many skills, enjoyed working with lots of different people and loved all of it. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve and after all this I can really appreciate all of the people who sacrifice their time to help others.
So finally a big thank you to all volunteers everywhere, without whom the world would not be the same!