O'Donnell Kerr Financial Planners
  • 30 July, 2015

Volunteering: The gift of giving

Tealey and I, along with a group of colleagues, clients, and their families, who attended the AAP conference, recently had an opportunity to spend a day at the Malomalo Primary School at Nadroga on the south west coast of Viti Levu (Fiji). As two of about 30 volunteers, we spent the day painting the exterior of two of the school’s classrooms, interacting with, and being entertained by the students. Between the rain showers we managed to complete our painting, thereby refreshing the exterior of the classrooms. But the biggest joy was the interaction with the students.

The Malomalo Primary School is very basic when compared to Australian schools. Electricity and water were only connected in 2009. There were certainly no computers, iPads or electronic whiteboards in sight. However the commitment and dedication of the teaching staff was amazing.

As part of its community outreach, the hotel we were staying at for our conference, the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, has been an active supporter of the school since the resort opened in 2009. In 2012 a new kindergarten building was built; paid for by the generous donations from the Hotel and its guests.

Our day at Malomalo got me thinking about volunteering.

Many Australians volunteer on either a formal, or informal basis, every day of the week. In fact, without dedicated volunteers, I am sure many aspects of our life would be considerably worse. According to statistics¹ produced by Volunteering Australia, in 2010, 36.2% (6.1 million) Australians had participated in formal volunteering.

And, also in the same year, 20% of people aged 18 years and over provided care to someone with a disability, long-term illness or problems associated with old age. 49% of people provided informal assistance to people not living in the same household.

We often hear of people approaching retirement suggesting they intend to spend some of their time volunteering and “giving something back”. However, we don’t have to wait until retirement to volunteer. In fact, I suspect that many of us engage in voluntary work of some sort without even realising it.

Volunteering, either on a formal or informal basis can be extremely satisfying. It gives us a chance to touch the lives or landscape of our community, thereby making life a little bit better for everyone.

Mark’s and my day, as part of a team that volunteered to paint the classrooms at the Malomalo Primary School, resulted in some freshly painted classrooms for the school, but I can say the greatest benefit by far was for the volunteers who had the opportunity to “give something back”. We all wear our paint splattered clothes with pride.

For more information on volunteering, and the opportunities it can deliver, visit the Volunteering Australia website.

If you’re interested to learn more about the support being given to the Malomalo Primary School by the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, visit InterContinental Fiji – Malomalo Primary School.

¹ Volunteering Australia – Key Facts and Statistics Information Sheet | 16 April 2015

The Realise Your Dream blogs are written by Peter Kelly and Mark Teale. More information about the authors can be found here

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