THE VISION BOARD

To Be or Not to Be: Humanitarian and Disaster Volunteer

5 min read

Apr 22, 2020

Join in the Action 

Has all this idle time gotten you thinking? Overanalyzing and worrying about the future? The uncertainty can create a lot of anxiety, but why not put this energy into planning your career path instead? 

And if you’ve been inspired by our frontliners, why not consider a career as a humanitarian and disaster volunteer? Apart from the reasons listed here, it’s a good way of paying forward their bravery and sacrifices.

Here are three paths you can consider when choosing the right volunteer program for you. It’s good to think about it now, so that once the ECQ is lifted, you’ll be ready!

The Traditionalist

If you’re looking to roll up your sleeves, step out of your comfort zone, and be as close to the frontline as possible, you might be a ‘traditionalist’. Traditional volunteers prefer to contribute directly to people in need. 

This kind of volunteering demands lots of time and effort. But the benefits are enormous. You will acquire life skills such as basic first aid and life support. You will also gain on-the-ground experience that can help you in your future career.

A traditionalist is likely to volunteer with established groups like The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) or a Barangay DRRM Committee (BDRRMC).

PRC has youth programs and organized systems for school-based volunteers. They have the know-how and capacity to develop and assign you to worthwhile activities. And their emphasis on principled humanitarian action can assure you that people will be at the center of your services. 

You can also join your friendly neighborhood (no, not Spiderman) BDRRMC and represent the youth! You’ll learn many useful things like what sort of risks your community faces and how you can help yourself prepare for them. Plus, you’ll also get lots of chances to socialize with your neighbors.

Ready for a stretch? This path is sure to give you one.

The Hobbyist

Hobbyist volunteers seek to apply their specialized knowledge and skills to more meaningful purposes – and you could too. 

In 2009, Typhoon Ondoy brought a record-high amount of rainfall in a day, severely flooding parts of Metro Manila. It was volunteers from special interest groups, many of them young people, who stepped up and filled gaps in government response. 

Surfers paddled their way to deliver disaster relief goods to those stuck in their houses, while mountaineers used climbing and navigation techniques to conduct search and rescue operations.

Now, more and more groups are blending hobbies with humanitarian action and disaster management. For example, the MMDA K-9 Corps that promotes disaster preparedness among dog enthusiasts have assisted in locating people buried under landslides and rubble. 

Check them out if you are seeking interesting ways of keeping things going with your best bud! You’ll get to learn responsible and safe dog training and handling canines for disaster response, all for FREE.

Every hobbyist has transferable knowledge and skills that can be applied during crises and calamities. What will yours be?

The Techie 

Who says gadgets are just for games and social media? Techie volunteers know that technology can and should be harnessed to solve the many problems of society.

Increasing access to rapidly evolving technologies have created new opportunities to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The two most impactful ways are through crowdsourcing and information management

Humanitarian workers and disaster responders can’t be in all places at once, to monitor the situation as it unfolds. Nor do they have the capacity to deal with the overflow of information coming in from all sides. This is where digital volunteers come in. They can be anyone capable and willing to use technology to save lives and alleviate suffering.

The advantage of this type of volunteering is that you can do it on your own, based on your capability and availability. Your effort is amplified when combined with that of other digital volunteers. 

For instance, Project Agos, a collaborative platform for disaster management, allows netizens to raise critical disaster information. It’s Alert Map has been successfully used to report hazards, people needing rescue, and many more. 

Yes! All you need is an internet connection, a social media account, and a mobile device.

And there you have it! Three ways of becoming a humanitarian and disaster volunteer. What are you waiting for? Join the action.

Want to learn more about Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM)? Thinking of starting a career in Humanitarian Affairs? Or are you seeking personal development in this field? The General Academic Strand (GAS) strand offers Disaster Readiness and Risk Reduction as a core subject for Senior High School students.

Learn more about DRMM and how you can take action about it. Read more articles like this on the Commune blog section at Edukasyon.ph now!

Sources

Lozada, D. Tanay Mountaineers: A Model of Youth Empowerment. Rappler, 2014.

Meier, P. “Digital Humanitarians”. Taylor & Francis Press, 2015.

MMDA K-9 Corps. Official Page of MMDA K-9 Corps. 2016.

Philippine Red Cross. Volunteer Service. 2019.

Project Agos. Alert Map. 2020.

Surf Trip. Surfers in Manila, Helps Typhoon Ondoy Victims. 2009.

Videos 

Be More Than a Bystander: Preparing Communities for Disaster

Why it is Important for Kids to Volunteer

 

Written By:

Angelo Trias

Angelo Trias believes that we cannot sustain growth and progress in societies unless we build safer and more resilient communities first. He contributes articles to raise awareness on the dangers we face. He continues to pursue lifelong learning and holds degrees and certificates in emergency and disaster management, political science, crisis management and psychology.

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