Commitment of the social volunteer

When a social volunteer visits a public official, he is sometimes treated as if he was asking for a job, or he is given an appointment “in a couple of months” or the secretary dismisses him with a “come back some other day.”
If nobody forces us to do volunteer work, besides an ethical imperative that yells at the skies in the face of so much injustice, it is as true that some people have their cables mixed.
A social volunteer tends to be a person with a job, with a family and who follows his or her obligations as a citizen. More so if the volunteer takes responsibility in a humanitarian association. These people steal some hours to their free time to give backup to civil society by denouncing injustice, giving alternative proposals filled with imagination, while keeping company to a sick person in the terminal stage, while attending a prison, the house of an elderly person who lives alone, while bathing the disabled people in a Cottolengo, while going to a center that receives immigrants, while sharing the harsh path of those who try to break free from drugs or while preparing medicine or books to be sent to other countries. All this without pretending to change anyone but rather by appreciating the luxury of being accepted by those who suffer the abuses of our development model or the lack of sensitivity of the people on power or the blindness of those who live for their work and who take their benefits as their life horizon.
A volunteer is a person committed to justice, a person who has taken sides with the weakest and who does not ask for money, favors or any other privilege. On the contrary, this person offers the opportunity of being admitted in the concert of the majority to participate in the reconstruction of the structures that our ignorance damaged.
It is hard to be treated as a foreigner in your own atmosphere, in your workplace, by your work mates, who forget your professional prestige or your human value.
One quits being oneself while carrying out volunteer duties and has the same right to demand the same treatment that a client, a benefactor or simply an intelligent human being would receive.
If one allows the wound to bleed it is to urge those millions of messengers for the peace who sooner or later will open up the wide boulevards.

José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez

This article was published in the Center of Collaborations for Solidarity (CCS) on 01/17/2005