YALI Voices: What I Learned From My #YALIServes Event
Volunteering is a rewarding experience — whether it’s taking a few hours to clean up a beach, donating blood, or reading to orphans. In this blog post, YALI Network members share what made their #YALIServes events successful, offer advice to organizers, and talk about what they would do differently:
“It pays to volunteer”
In the neighborhood of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria, Omotosho Oluwashina Ahmad and a group of volunteers organized a series of talks about leadership, environmental cleanliness and tips for healthy living. His event included motivational talks, vocational training, sensitization on the need for joint efforts to improve the public health in their community, as well as furnishing other information needed to improve the Makoko community.
“I was most proud of the happiness of the community people after the event. The support we received from fellow YALI Network members, like-minded volunteers, and donations from well wishers, motivates me to fulfill my #YALIServes promise amidst challenges,” he said. “Organizing events puts things into perspective. In the course of solving other people’s problems, yours will automatically go away…It pays to volunteer!”
Be the Mandela of your community
For his #YALIServes event, Mohamed Humbe organized the “Keep Kajiado Klean (3K)” event with more than 75 people. His was a clean-up exercise in Kajiado Town in Kenya with more afterwards, including an educational forum at the Maa Institute of Professional Studies (MIPS) College to sensitize participants on sustainable environmental management practices, a motivational talk and career advice. Later, YALI members discussed future YALIServes and YALILearns events and promised to meet at the end of every month.
Part of what made his event successful was partnering with local organizations. The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Ewaso Ng’iro South Development Authority, County Government of Kajiado, Mayian FM Radio, Kajiado County Press, and MIPS College provided refreshments, promotional materials and supplies. Additionally, “they promised to partner with us in future,” he said. “They lauded our work.”
At the heart of this YALIServes event was the enthusiasm and passion demonstrated by all volunteers and participants, giving hope that “more Mandelas” will rise up from the county of Kajiado and that someday the city of Kajiado will demonstrate to the rest of the world that it is easy and possible to have the cleanest city in Africa. He says,
“Hosting a YALIServes event is [a] commitment we have taken upon ourselves to make a small change in the small world around us. If each one of us makes a small, positive contribution towards our communities then our collective efforts can truly bring a sustainable change in our communities. We must not complain of how our government are failing us, but stand up and take action together to be that change we would like to see in our communities. To effectively influence a positive change, we should fully utilize YALI Network online resources, and together we can grow and be the Mandelas of our communities and the world at-large.”
Humbe said that the participants now plan to meet at the end of every month to brainstorm on what actions to take. They are currently recruiting more YALI Network members in Kajiado and will be holding a meeting on July 29, a YALILearns event, where they will discuss the next YALIServes event. He said there are many issues they can tackle, including environment, health and reproduction, youth unemployment and entrepreneurship, FGM and early marriages, drug abuse and responsible lifestyle, and open data and research information. “Ours is to have as big impact as possible. We will continue sharing with you our successes,” he said.
See the skills you were born with
At an orphanage in Kintambo, Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Carine Kanku and a group of about 10 people spent the day cleaning for their #YALIServes event. Using both the event planning toolkit and the “Joy of Volunteering” video lessons, they cleaned the outdoor and indoor environment of the orphanage, did laundry, prepared breakfast for the children and read to the children. She said,
“We are proud to have spent time with the children, to show them affection by holding them in our arms and to alleviate some of the domestic tasks of the morning to the staff of the orphanage.
I encourage anyone thinking about doing community service work to banish their fear because by accepting to organize a YALIServes event, you see the skills you were born with come to life and you do good to your community.”
She said that, in the future, she would like to receive computer materials to introduce these disadvantaged children to computer science and also books to introduce them to reading by creating reading clubs and toys.
Find resources to plan your own event on our #YALIServes page.