Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another. 

– Erma Bombeck, American humourist

Time, or a moment in our life, once utilised cannot be revisited and is irreversible. From this perspective, it is a precious and priceless resource.

It would be nice to take a step back to ponder at this time how to spend it. An option is to be a volunteer.

A volunteer, it is generally accepted, is a person who offers their time and effort to serve a worthy cause, especially helping others and does this service willingly and without any form of payment.

The practice of volunteerism for the benefit of other people in our community is time well spent.

Ideally, it ought to be embedded into our psyche as a social responsibility.

Volunteerism can be challenging at the best of times as it does on many occasions take planning and time-consuming effort, not to mention personal funds as well.

During this period of MCO and CMCO, our Sarawak government has done a good job of mitigating the economic hardship befalling the people.

Various critical aid packages have been announced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg. Many of these aid packages have been implemented and have been of real and significant help. Much assistance is on-going and will continue to be distributed to quite some time to come.

However, there are always some gaps in the system in terms of either response time, lack of information and those who slip through the welfare ‘safety net’ due to their ineligible status and so on.

It is difficult to cover 100 per cent of the situations, especially in times of disasters and emergencies.

This is where volunteers come in and play a crucial role in our community.

It has been amazing to see the significant increase in volunteers during these difficult times. There have been endless acts of kindness extended by people.

There have been farmers who donated their farm produce. Individuals who raised funds or used their monies to buy and distributed food aid ranging from simple basic rations to more substantial food aid.

Some people assisted in raising funds, others in preparing food and others in delivering the meals.

Some volunteers made pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) at home, others collected the pieces, others assembled them and there are those who passed the finished items to hospitals. An entire supply-chain team made up of volunteers.

Kind souls who bought masks and sanitisers and delivered them to those who could not afford these or to front-liners.

Many helped to share information on hygiene and social behaviours related to avoiding getting the Covid-19 virus. 

We had many blood donors who volunteered to come forward and donate blood throughout Sarawak to keep the blood stocks in hospitals replenished. This is real life-saving action.

Some people kept in touch with neighbours, especially those who become isolated and lonely.

During such times some became online volunteers to communicate and establish links between volunteers to facilitate assistance to the needy.

I am sure you know of numerous other acts of charity and volunteerism.

The MCO has brought out the best and humanitarianism in many people and organisations, and has been welcomed by many in need.

I observed that the unity across the races, religions and communities was at an all-time high and is to be applauded. Let’s hope these tough times have built lasting bonds between all the people.

It would be good in the future to have a web-based platform to connect people to organisations so that they can work as a team.

I have not mentioned any one specific person or welfare-based organisation because so many came forward.

We must celebrate volunteerism in all its various forms and the positive impact it brings to our communities in Sarawak.

Therefore Sarawakians, let’s make the time to become a volunteer. There are just so many ways you can do it. Whether it is by joining a welfare-based organisation or just doing it as an individual, it is your choice.

You can also do it is as a one-off activity, spend just a little of your time or if you can spare more time — you choose.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said that the essence of life is “to serve others and do good,”, therefore what better way if not by sparing some of our time by volunteering.

To all the volunteers out there, thank you and be rest assured, your time and effort will always make a huge difference to the lives of many at all times and especially during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Sarawakians, let us keeping volunteering to get through this together.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.