Team Johor – The Spirit of Volunteerism

By : Benedict Weerasena and Mohd Daud Mat Din

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Volunteerism has no expiry date. 

Doing good has no time limit.

It is something we do every time the opportunity arises.

This is similar to Johor’s future.

It must be driven by doing good things for an indefinite period of time. It must be part of our character.

Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, the Chief Minister of Johor

 

There is certainly no time limit to the passion of volunteering. It is a never-ending commitment to to make use of the resources we have to help the underprivileged and taking a step forward to eradicate inequality. By pursuing an active interest in the civic cultural social and moral welfare of community, we act as beacons of light in society.

It is not just merely giving financially to various charitable organizations, but it is also sacrificing our time, our efforts and most importantly sharing our hearts with those who need it the most. It is about seeing a need in society and choosing to meet that need.

For instance, around 200 volunteers from Sukarelawan Darul Ta’zim (SDT), an 18,000 strong volunteer member society based in Johor made preparations to assist Penang’s flood victims in the recent floods in November 2017. This was a beautiful and proactive offer of help to fellow Malaysians who were badly affected by the unprecedented flood waters rising to about 10 to 12 feet in several areas, with some houses completely inundated. In an act of compassion and love, the volunteering team supported by the state government of Johor travelled over 700 kilometres to lend a helping hand in flood relief efforts.

Indeed, volunteerism does not and should never have a political motive. It is free and sincere, positive and proactive. It doesn’t consider one’s class, creed or colour. It doesn’t consider one’s position, prestige or profession. It’s about helping everyone regardless of race, religion and political ideology.

Besides, one highly significant value underlying the spirit of volunteerism is how it is societal driven, and not entirely dependent on the government or authorities of the day. This is what we want Johor to be – a state driven by society. One excellent example of this is the charitable work carried out by Pertubuhan Ihsan Johor, which includes building homes for the less fortunate, flood relief efforts and educational assistance. To date, 20 sturdy homes have been built, with the 21st and 22nd home being built from the 19th till the 21st of January. In fact, Bait Al-Amanah was priveleged to partner with them in a recent food distribution project.

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Ihsan Johor Rangers building homes (Picture taken from Ihsan Johor Website)

 

Another example of a ‘state driven by society’ includes 700 volunteers from the SDT team who headed for flood-hit areas in Segamat, Muar and Labis for a post-flood relief mission. This mission which was launched on the 1st of February 2017 included efforts to clean up public premises, community centres, mosques and houses in addition to delivering food to areas that were previously inaccessible and looking into the people’s medical needs.

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SDT volunteers assisting in Flood Relief Projects (Picture taken from SDT's facebook page

 

These noble missions truly highlight the sacrifice of many of young Johoreans in helping to make the world a better place. They exemplify the spirit of Volunteerism, that it is all about serving genuinely without an ulterior motive, without seeking rewards, without looking for recognition. It is about valuing others and seeking the interest of others above ourselves, a true embodiment of the spirit of Team Johor.

Looking forward, we need to constantly engage our youths in participating actively in volunteerism. With such exciting energy and vibrant vigour, our youths should be the main drivers of volunteerism. We need to constantly look for new ways to engage our youth as partners and leaders in service. They are not just the voice of tomorrow; they should be the Voice of Today.

Engaging our next generation involves various initiatives and concrete steps. For instance, it is crucial to create a strong online presence to increase youth participation. Zeroing our attention to just a few prominent social websites such as Twitter and Facebook with regular updates and visuals of community projects certainly helps.

In addition, creating awareness and raising funds for community projects should be carried out creatively. We need to remember that we are not limited by state and national borders anymore due to a globalized online world.

Today, many noble initiatives by youths worldwide thrive through crowdfunding where a project initiator proposes an idea to be funded, individuals support the idea and a moderating organization as the platform brings the parties to launch the idea. In fact, crowdfunding platforms raised $16.2 billion in 2014 and this escalated to $34.4 billion in 2015.

This example and many other ingenious methods such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are a breath of fresh air in the worldwide trend of how creating awareness works. Hence, volunteers and service organizations need to innovate. What better way than to tap into the innovative minds of our youth!

However, we must also not forget that those who are more advanced in age, but surely young at heart are still very much needed to inspire the next generation. In serving the community, there is no such thing as a retirement age.

Let us be reminded that all these efforts will flourish within a healthy ecosystem of volunteerism and firm support from the public and government of the day. That is why the State Government actively encourages and supports the spirit of volunteerism through various initiatives including providing funding where it is most needed and facilitating a vibrant society where volunteers, charitable bodies and service organizations are able to flourish.

It is in knowing that when each and everyone of us chips in a little effort, gives a little love, shares a little smile in our efforts to empower another human being, we are making a difference in society. In the words of Dato’ Zulkurnain bin Haji Kamisan, the Youth and Sports Committee Chairman of Johor,

We can’t change history, but we can create history.

 

*For information on how to sign up to be a part of Sukarelawan Darul Ta’zim, please kindly refer to https://sukarelawandt.wordpress.com/pendaftaransukarelawandt/

*For information on how to sign up to be a Ihsan Johor Rangers, please kindly refer to http://ihsanjohor.org.my/pages/sertai-kami/

 

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