Why I Volunteer: “Because I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired”
A virus that swept millions from the planet, unprecedented lockdowns, layoffs, death of a dear one, the casual killing of minorities and, races still fighting for their rights! With instability in all areas and events of the current times unveiling the reality of society, are you primed for a complete meltdown? Or do you feel the need to buckle up and stand up taller than ever to voice out?
Unanticipated situations often lead to the most thought-provoking and toughest moments in life. These situations often have the potential to open doors to new events that we have always wanted to pursue. Numbing my emotions to achieving personal goals and muting the happenings to find comfort in hobbies helped for a certain time and then I paused.
This time, the ‘pause’ needed a response, not a reaction, a conscious action based on my thoughtful assessment of the situations. Working in the content industry, I knew where I belonged and how I could contribute my bit to bring a change.
I was looking for an organization that had a strong voice against social injustice, a group that believed in amplifying the voice of the suppressed, a group that not only understood the consequence of human right violation but also took steps to help them at the ground level. My search led me to Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice (EYEJ), where I met the Founder and Executive Director, Mai Moore, and discussed our mutual goals and agenda. With that conversation, I felt I truly found a place where my skills could make an impact.
Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice (EYEJ) amplifies youth voices and convenes them with diverse community leaders and business professionals to engage in interactive discussions centered around social justice. One thing, out of the many, that drew me towards EYEJ is the diversity of the youth participants and volunteers. With about 60 back-end volunteers from diverse backgrounds coming from all across the world serving over 1,500 youth annually, this NGO (non-governmental organization) firmly believes that it is important for the youth to have diverse role models in the community. EYEJ not only recognizes the diversity of its workforce by creating an inclusive culture but also respects the diversity of perspective that these people bring along.
Coming from a different background, with no social connections and restricted to my domestic realm, EYEJ gave me a sense of belonging. It helped me feel included and safe. It helped me contribute my bit to better the community and in large build a world that we all would love to live in. I wanted something big; something beyond just me or my 9 to 5 schedule. I wanted to use my skills and knowledge to assist in empowering the people around me and making them big. Voila, EYEJ!
I come from India where 34.33% of the total population is youth and the majority of these young people have limited or no access to education, which makes employment one of the country’s biggest challenges. Though there has been a transition towards better in recent times, this is not uniform across social groups. No matter where in the world you are, social differences lead to a certain community suffering. The number of youths who continue education from these communities is lower. Lack of education, skills, and lack of guidance on topics that matter to us as global citizens, are holding back the youth from flourishing.
EYEJ gives the youth of Cleveland the voice to pinpoint areas of injustice that they consider most needed in order to create positive change. This nonprofit organization not only helps young lives to identify the issue and build solutions but also connects them to a diverse set of entities: media, sports, government, other non-profit entities, social enterprises; to come together to help positive change come to fruition. The trust youth have in the program was highlighted in a recent conversation I had with Arieanna Saddler, Tremont Youth Council Representative, and 7th Grade student from Cleveland. “I have been a part of YODJ (Youth Online Discussing Justice) for two weeks now. It helps me calm down. I can share my issues with them.”
And here I am, volunteering to bring a change because I am tired of just being.
Learn more about EYEJ and sign up as a volunteer here: http://eyej.org/volunteer/. To support the social justice work of EYEJ, please make a contribution to our #EMPOWER campaign at http://eyej.org/giving/.