Volunteers without limit: How to start helping other people

August 27
Social sector

Moscow volunteers helped the city overcome the pandemic. They were engaged in the delivery of groceries and medicines to people during the lockdown and helped the doctors at hospitals. Last week, Moscow volunteers received commemorative medals For Selfless Contribution to the Organisation of the Nation-Wide Volunteer Campaign #WeAreTogether (#МыВместе). Medals were presented to the most active volunteers who supported people during the lockdown.

The large-scale volunteer campaign #WeAreTogether took place from late March to June all around the country and involved over 21,000 Muscovites. In addition, the volunteer marathon brought together over 400 organisations, including grocery chains, cafes, transport services, mobile network operators, drinking water producers and others.

Volunteers helped those who needed special attention, such as elderly people and families with many children. Over the course of three months, volunteers delivered groceries, medicines, pet food and other everyday items. Mos.ru spoke with the volunteers and learned what they did during the lockdown and how one can join the volunteer movement.

Dzhemiyat Kurbanova: Volunteers are everywhere

Dzemiyat is a student and coordinator of the Moscow office of the Medical Volunteers nationwide public movement

— During the lockdown, I worked at the #WeAreTogether campaign office and coordinated assistance to three hospitals: War Veteran Hospital No 3 and City hospitals No 31 and 67. I also helped organise blood donations as part of the Moscow campaign Follow Me! #IAmResponsibleDonor, which marked World Blood Donor Day. I am a medical student; I just finished my fourth year at the Yevdokimov Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry. I am specially interested in volunteer projects in healthcare.

I think that we are surrounded by volunteer activities. Since childhood, all of us have sometimes played this role: when we help an elderly person or simply express sympathy and support. So, there is no definite starting point. This is the opportunity to not sit on the sidelines, but to help those who need you, and see that you can really help. The organised volunteer activity helps you to become not an accidental helper, but to do something useful and kind all the time.

Thanks to the volunteer movement, I can also develop in my profession. During the #WeAreTogether campaign, over 500 medical students helped in hospitals where they gained experience and developed their professional skills.

Being a volunteer gives you an opportunity to communicate with a large number of people, to learn something new and broaden your perspective. We constantly hold education courses. For instance, I study dentistry but I have learned a lot about a healthy lifestyle, diabetes and other diseases.

Humans need humans: Volunteers help medical workers in hospitals

Any person of any age can become a volunteer.

The most important thing is not to be afraid to take the first step because you will gain so much in return and this activity will have an impact on your development. You understand that what you are doing is not just an activity, but somebody needs it and it is important to somebody.

Many of those who decide to attend just one event get involved really fast and in a month they begin attending all volunteer events. They are happy and want to continue helping people.

Actually, I would welcome anyone in our friendly team of Moscow volunteers. It is really cool here; there are many kind-hearted people and the world gets better when you are surrounded by such people.

Vladislav Muntyanu: There are no restrictions in volunteering

Vladislav is a student and curator of the volunteer movement at the Victory Museum on Poklonnaya Gora

— I am a law student at the Pedagogical Skills Centre. As a volunteer, I help at the Victory Museum on Poklonnaya Gora where I supervise over 1,000 volunteers.

We assist in holding tours, exhibitions and international conferences. Among our helpers there are many school students who learn about the history of the Great Patriotic War. We invite veterans, interesting people, heads of public organisations and organise meetings of several generations of people who share their knowledge and experience.

In March, when the museum was closed during the lockdown, I joined the #WeAreTogether campaign and spent three months with medical volunteers. Every day we visited elderly men and women. We processed applications and helped deliver food and medicines. Our working day began at 9 am and ended at 9 pm, sometimes even later because there were many applications and we dealt with 5-6 of them per day. We lacked volunteers at that time.

To me, volunteering is a hobby, something I do for my soul. It is a good distraction from studying and working because every day you take part in new events and do not focus on anything specific.

There are no restrictions on volunteering, neither financial ones, nor related to age.

Anyone can become a volunteer, those who are under 18 or even 14, and those who are way over 50 or 60. We have a huge group of volunteers aged over 55. They make a significant contribution to the development of the volunteer movement in Moscow and the country: when school and university students have to study, these volunteers take on the everyday activities.

Svetlana Bilibina: You need to assess your abilities and try volunteering

Svetlana is a volunteer and an expert in contracts and procurement

— I am an office worker at Russian Railways. I have two children, aged 8 and 14.

Within the volunteer movement, I am part of the smallest group, working middle-aged people. For me it all began several years ago, when the International Student Festival was looking for assistants. My job is quiet and very organised, while I am a very energetic person. I wanted to do something else in my spare time. Since 2017, I have been taking part in various volunteer projects. These are mainly large patriotic, sports and cultural events, such as the Red Square book fair and the Spasskaya Tower International Military Tattoo.

I do different things in each project: from welcoming and assisting visitors to concrete tasks that the organisers and volunteer face. For instance, I had an honorable mission to assist veterans during the Victory Parade. It was very moving.

The most unique event for me, and I was even awarded a medal, was the #WeAreTogether campaign, a nationwide project that involved a huge number of people. Even those who had never heard about the volunteer movement before, eagerly took part in it. The campaign showed that volunteering is assistance that can be permanent. Some of those who joined the project are continuing their voluntary work. Many are helpers to elderly people they met, to whom they delivered groceries and medicines or supported in other ways.

I would suggest that those who want to become a volunteer assess their capabilities. Volunteering takes time and effort, and it is not as easy as it seems. When you put on your volunteer uniform, people do not know what you do, whether you hand out ribbons or assist visitors. They can ask any question and make any request.

You need to assess your abilities and try it. You can begin with any project, but it is better if you try something you like. It is important. If a person has a positive attitude from the very beginning, it will be much more fun to take part in the first project.

Being a volunteer is to do things altruistically, not for money. It is also an opportunity to broaden your perspective. We sometimes take part in events that we would never have been involved in if we were not volunteers.

From demonstrations to forums: Where Moscow volunteers work

Moscow has over 6,000 socially oriented non-profit organisations. Their members support children with disabilities and orphaned children, as well as low-income families and those with many children. They also take care of the environment and homeless animals, help preserve cultural heritage and organise campaigns and events.

One of the largest of these organisations, with over 92,000 members, is the Mosvolonter resource centre. Active residents of Moscow help hold such major events as the FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Confederations Cup, the World Festival of Youth and Students, the Moscow Urban Forum, the Immortal Regiment march and the Memory Watch event. The resource centre organises some 170 events every year.

Source: mos.ru

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