Being a volunteer for a good cause comes naturally to some people. We all know of someone who fits this category, and we admire them. But what happens when we’re put on the spot and asked to ‘help out a bit’? Our pained expression belies our guilt at really wanting to do some good, but then we start thinking about our limited time, the pressures of work and our own families (kids’ extra-curricula activities take up our time, there’s the supermarket shop to fit in, an MBA to study for…and so on).
We’ve all been in the ‘I would help, if I could, but you know what it’s like….’ situation. But late last year, a group of students at the University of Malta came up with a new style of volunteering which makes it far easier for us to give some time, using our particular expertise, when and where we can. There are obligations, but within a far more manageable framework of volunteering. Here’s how it works, in their words.
What is Get up, Stand Up?
GetupStandup is a new voluntary organisation created to offer more channels for activism in Malta. The desire to promote love and friendship among all people is at the core of our beliefs. In Malta, there are many community-oriented projects, but the areas of human rights and cultural acceptance are often neglected. So, our initial focus has been on improving the conditions of immigrants, spreading awareness about human rights and campaigning for improved inter-cultural relations.
Whilst the immigration issue is close to our heart, there are many other social causes which we feel deserve more awareness. The environment, education and poverty, are particular aspects of human life which we feel passionate about, and which we want to devote our energies towards changing.
A new approach to volunteering
We feel that there are plenty of people who have a passion for social causes, but many don’t end up getting involved with any projects because of a fear of long commitments. Our website is designed to allow people to commit to roles within different projects and events. This means that you can choose a role depending not only on how much it interests you, but also to the extent of time you can give to it and playing to your strengths and areas of expertise.
Each project or event that we take on is coordinated by one or two project managers. This means that any project can be undertaken by the group, as long as there is a project manager to take responsibility for it. So if you can identify with our causes, or you feel like a cause you are passionate about ties in with our group, please contact us!
Apart from affecting change with small steps through our projects we also feel passionate about creating an environment where we challenge ourselves. Thomas Edison summed it up when he said “Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress”. We want to create an environment where young people challenge their beliefs and think creatively without the inhibitions of dogma. We hope to create a platform for debate, discussion and friendship!
Come and visit us here: www.getupstandup.org.mt
Final word (Editor’s note)
Clearly, some roles like project manager need people who can commit more. But, the ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ way in which we can give time frees us up to help with less worry about committing and at least gives some projects man-hours that otherwise would never come their way. Finally, don’t be cynical about this initiative; and note too that being generous and compassionate lifts our own spirits and can bring us well being (if we still have the need to think of ourselves as we volunteer).
Photo: Walter Lo Cascio