For the last eight years I have been a volunteer an organization called A New World Altogether (http://neworldaltogether.org/) where we reach out to communities, especially to vulnerable children, widows the hospitalised and the incarcerated. We do so by identifying the needs of these vulnerable groups and working towards practical steps (free medical services, free education, basic necessities, spiritual counselling)that will enable these groups of persons live decent lives.
Have you ever thought about what it means to be of service?
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Recently we went on another relief mission to Garoua, the Northern part of my Country. Garoua, also spelled Garua, is a town located in northeastern Cameroon. The town lies along the right bank of the Benue River, north-northeast of Yaoundé, the national capital. It is situated at the junction of the road between Maroua and Ngaoundéré and the Benue waterway and is the chief commercial centre of the region.Predominantly a muslim region, it has in the recent years been marked alongside the other two northern regions as unsafe because of terrorist activities by the Boko Haram extremist terrorist group. Though home to the first president of Cameroon, inhabitants have their fair share of problems ranging from health care, feeding, clothing, education.. added to coping with the influx of thousands of refugees who fled from the Central African Republic (CAR) to Cameroon, many of them wounded from attacks, dehydrated or traumatised.
Benefits of compassionate service:
Looking back over my life I must admit that most of my happiest times have occurred when I was actively engaged in helping others. That’s why it should come as no surprise that it is practically impossible to create a happy, meaningful and rewarding life without being of service to others in some way. Even more, serving others ultimately serves us in many ways.
We are Happy/ Fulfilled.
According to science a part of our brain lights up when we help others. That part of our brain then sends out feel-good chemicals like dopamine, and possibly serotonin. “These chemicals help us feel joy and delight — helper’s high.” A common reaction is that “some people feel more tranquil, peaceful, serene; others, warmer and more trusting.” When we serve others we gain a deeper purpose and meaning and that always results in greater happiness and fulfilment.
It Reduces stress.
When we help others our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin, which buffers stress and helps us maintain social trust and tranquility. Along with oxytocin are the other chemicals like dopamine, which is a mood-elevating neurotransmitter. These drugs tend to push aside negative emotions and reduce the stress level.
We have a Longer lifespan.
Several international studies confirm that serving can add years to your life. In fact, current studies suggest up to a 22% reduction in mortality rates! How much do we have to do? Studies confirm that a regular commitment of as little as 25 hours per year is beneficial.
Great health Benefits
Statistics show volunteering will lower blood pressure, because of the lower stress, and the effects of being active, social and altruistic. It also reduces mild depression. Mild depression is linked to isolation in most cases. Volunteering helps to keep a person in regular contact with others and to help develop a social support system.
It Benefits your career.
That’s right. Volunteering for the right reasons can turn your life around and affect your work. When you lead with your heart as well as your head, the result is always good. Instead of feeling depressed or unfulfilled at work, you will feel more happy, confident and energised. Find something that makes you feel generous and purposeful — and that will spread to every single area of your life.
This is what gave my life a sense of purpose and worth. While serving others I discovered what really made me happy:
It birth in me compassion and a desire to help people grow and stand out.
I got out of depression and health issues.
My youth is renewed. Many are surprised when I tell them how old I am because I look way younger.
I found a community of selfless people who support and care for me.
It brought me to a deep understanding of God as love. Taught me how this love can flow through me to others.
I got a deeper and more purposeful vision for my work. I know am not just an entrepreneur, I am an entrepreneur with compassion and a heart for others.
So does all form of volunteering have benefit?
Not really. Helping can be good for you if you really care about those you’re helping. If you feel exploited or compelled in any way, refrain than stress out doing it for the wrong reason.
Volunteering isn’t always fun. On the last trip we had to travel for close to 30hours to get to destination by road and by train. I have never sat down so long in my life but it is always meaningful and gratifying. Looking back at it today i know I will do it again. I am conscious contributing to others and my community is a privilege. This has boosted my awareness of the blessings in my life.
Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.”
While crafting yourself from inside out, go confidently into the world. SMILE at a stranger, even when you don’t feel like smiling. Live a life of service.You will discover that as much as you give selflessly, it will return to you abundantly.
So start today. Start by noticing the first opportunity you come across to serve someone else. I choose to serve my community through http://neworldaltogether.org/ You can do same.
Take that opportunity. And then the next. And the next.