‘Why you should volunteer’

2014-06-28 00:00

A UNITED States nurse who spent five months in Pietermaritzburg last year was so charmed by South Africa that she has returned, this time as a volunteer.

Meghann Nath (24) is working with Mama Ntombi’s Community Projects (MNCP), an NGO based in PMB.

And she has issued a challenge to others saying they must volunteer their time.

“Many people might ask, ‘Why should I volunteer?’ or ‘What benefit am I getting out of volunteering?’, but those individuals are asking the wrong questions,” she said.

Nath said volunteering is about giving to others without expecting something in return.

“What people don’t realise is that by volunteering you often receive more than you can ever imagine,” said Nath.

She said when she first came here in January last year to study, she fell in love with the culture and hospitality of the people of South Africa. “These are poor people but they are so giving and willing to offer their last food to a stranger like myself,” she said.

Nath said her perceptions of Africa had changed considerably. “What really struck me is how it was a third world and first world clash. I mean, you drive into the Liberty Midlands Mall and a kilometre from the mall is the Jika Joe informal settlement, which is a total contrast,” she said.

Nath said she came back to help those in need of love and support in the Jika Joe informal settlement — especially the children who need guidance.

Coming to South Africa has made her realise how lucky she has been in life compared to some of the children who have crossed her path.

“Many people may not realise that giving does not always have to be physical such as giving money or gifts, but rather just spending an hour or two on a Sunday with kids and providing them with love,” she said.

She has been volunteering since she was a child.

“Initially, volunteer opportunities were just so I could get hours signed for, but what I didn’t realise is that this would soon become a huge and regular part of my life,” said Nath.

She has been a volunteer for Special Olympics for about 10 years now and Guide Dogs of America for about eight years.

“I now volunteer because my heart was changed through my volunteer experiences and I have found a new passion in my life,” she said.

She has been serving destitute children in the informal settlements of Ezinketheni and Jika Joe.

“We do a variety of things to serve the community such as life skills programmes, educational support, mentoring of the children and poverty alleviation,” said Nath.

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