Today I am member of the UN Global Education First Youth Advocacy Group. Many young people have come across me to ask how I got to be in such an initiative. It has always been a pleasure for me to share my volunteer experiences because it is from these experiences that I was selected out of 500 applications to serve in this group.
It all started when I was in secondary school. I was engaged in student affairs as the president of UNESCO club, a school platform that brings students together to discuss school matters and the pressing and current issues concerning them.
After secondary school, I started volunteering within non-governmental organizations. It was in this moment that I began to understand a lot about community development. I was involved in projects and activities relating to peace, human rights, environment and HIV/AIDS. It was a great pleasure for me to contribute to the development of my community through volunteering because the impact was visible.
I had many obstacles while volunteering because people don't value volunteer work. In Cameroon and especially in my community, people consider volunteering as waste of time and resources. They cannot conceive the fact that someone can work without remuneration or a salary. My friends and family relatives advised me on several occasions to stop volunteering. I felt very discouraged at some point but I could not stop because I loved doing it. Volunteering was the top priority of my life. I decided not to pay attention to their advice but to concentrate on my work.
One day, a group of young people came to me and said they had something to say. I was very surprised. They said they were all grateful for the changes I brought into their lives through peer education. I was so happy to hear such statement because it aroused joy in my heart. This experience has made me to understand that when relying on what others think, we cannot create impact in people life, as it's the case in volunteer work.
There are three elements that permitted me to succeed in life through volunteering: passion, determination and patience. Volunteering has helped me to become a job creator not a job seeker.
My advice to my peers is that we cannot succeed in life overnight. We have to work hard to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Even if you have the diploma from the best school in the world, it is not enough because what matters most is your skills, your talent. The best way to discover who you are in order to integrate yourself in the society is to volunteer. Volunteering does not only allow you to offer your services, but to learn and discover new things and improve your skills. One secret in volunteer work is to avoid thinking about money because that is where the problem is. Young people expect to be paid as they are volunteering.