Take a look at our world; we have the poor and the rich. One might say it is fate that decides our status in life but I say it’s just a matter of opportunities.

Underprivileged people rarely get opportunities to succeed in life. There are scholarships for the poor children in schools but what about those who barely have enough money to survive through the night, let alone go to school? And we, we have so much.

Now I’m not saying that just only because we’re better-off, we should pity the underprivileged and help them out. No, I’m trying to say that you should try to understand where they come from and why they need help; understand that we can help them live a better life. We can help.

We can help through community service. Community service has been defined as service performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions.

So basically, it means donating or volunteering for the good of our society. However, when people think about donating, the word ‘money’ immediately comes to mind. Money is not the only thing that matters. Sure, it is an important factor in determining where we stand, but when it comes to giving, money is not the only thing that matters. There are so many things we can donate! We can donate food, clothes, books and blankets. Clothes are the simplest donating choice as many people have used clothes that they no longer wear. Books are another choice as they open doors into a new world, as I firmly believe. It would also take us a step further to ending illiteracy and thus, providing more opportunities for the people.

Also, here is one thing we can always give – our time. I think that can be defined as volunteering. Just a little bit of devotion, perhaps once a month or so, of volunteering at an orphanage, for example, would mean so much to the staff and the children themselves. If you’re a busy person, maybe just sending a simple letter each month to a child there, asking about his/her current situation and news would make them feel cared for. There is much more to a sincere gesture of genuine curiosity about a person’s wellbeing than you would think. All it takes is a small, “How are you?” to make you feel as though someone cares, that someone is out there looking out for you.

I myself have volunteered at animal shelters where they take in stray dogs for spaying and medical attention. All I would do was go in every weekend, clean up the area, feed the dogs, clean up after and take a few good ones on a walk and it would be of so much help to the staff there, especially since the animal shelter was run by one person or group’s pure love for the helpless strays, meaning that they didn’t have funds from governments or many volunteers at all. I could see the relief on their faces when I would drop by to help out. But the thing is when I took over those small chores, they wouldn’t take the time to rest. They would use that time to organize papers and do something productive for the shelter rather than laze around. These people who didn’t get any profits from doing any of this were so hardworking and motivated to help the helpless. You could imagine how positively that affected me.

It brought about a spark in me – I could help someone; I was helping someone and it felt great! That fact that just a tiny chore would aid someone encouraged me to volunteer more. That was not the main and only reason of course. Seeing the sad plight of these helpless animals that, by no fault of theirs, were stuck out in the harsh winter nights without food or love, how could I have so much to give but not give even a bit?

And imagine! Imagine the thousands, no, millions of people and animals that are out there, sad, lonely and hungry, just so we couldn’t devote a minute or two to their sorrowful plight! One voice is all it takes to start something. With a million voices, we could change something.

I believe my generation will be the one to bring about this change. That is why I believe in community service and this is also why I believe our university should take a step and promote community services among our students and our faculty members.

As of now, our university is alright. Posters on saving electricity usage are posted on walls. Our university looks lush and green enough already so there aren’t many places we can green up more. There are boxes put up around the campus for students to donate extra clothes too and that sight itself brings smiles to my face, knowing that we will be providing warmth to people; it’s like a hug through shared clothes.

However, I feel as though we can take more steps. There are hundreds of us in this university. How hard will it be if we just take one step each?

We can start out by taking the students on trips to a local nearby orphanage or old age home every month, where they can provide comfort and company to the people living there. They could even make small notes or cards for them. Every year, we could hold a fundraiser for a cause that is dear to our hearts, like for example, the starving children of Delhi NCR or the freezing homeless during winter. To improve attendance on such trips, however sad it may sound, the school could provide certificates of the hours of community services a student has performed at the end of each school year. With the global need for a sign of humility, organizations would prefer a prospective employee with community service hours. To do this, we don’t always have to go out of the campus too.

We could start from the inside. I have noticed the amount of plastic cups that go to waste after one use. The plastic cups should be recycled material or recycled, if they aren’t already or the water dispenser could simply be replaced by drinking water fountains that don’t require the use of cups. This especially would immensely reduce the number of plastic waste.

There should be recycling bins on the campus grounds for paper, metal and plastic. A Coke/Pepsi lover, I know how fast the bottles or cans of these soft drinks get sold so the plastic or metal waste could be deposited in the respective recycling bins to be recycled. The university cafeteria should replace their disposable utensils with reusable utensils so as to reduce the amount of waste from these disposable ones. In fact, the university should try to replace products with environmental-friendly ones wherever possible. They should discourage the use of plastic bags in shops in the campus as well. Used books no longer needed by the seniors could all be sold in fair trades to the juniors through the university so as to not let those books go to waste. Teachers could try to reduce the number of written assignments and instead encourage sending in assignments through emails.

Our students themselves can take their own initiative and do the things by themselves. All the better if they don’t need to be forced to volunteer for the benefit of the underprivileged. All the better if they knew why they need to volunteer and why these people, animals or the environment need our help. These are all what I think our university and its members could try to do. Community service isn’t really a hard thing to practice. Simply not littering in public could be a small form of community service, or dropping change into a beggar’s bowl.

There are so many things we can do if only we looked or tried a bit harder. All it takes is one step to start the journey and it doesn’t matter how small that step is. Like Mother Teresa once said, “we ourselves feel that what we are doing is a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Blog Writer: Kamana Rai, BA (Hons) Psychology, SOHSS

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