Volunteering has long been a source of solace and reward both for those who devote their time and those who benefit from the hours given. Impact investigates two student-run volunteer projects to examine their effect on the societies they help.

After the November 2013 typhoons in the Philippines, a team of four MBA students from the National University of Singapore came together to create a project designed to help those affected by the typhoons. The students work tirelessly to provide safe sources of drinking water for the impoverished people suffering due to the merciless typhoons.

A student who is part of this phenomenal project, Ragragio, says: “Local people have had to walk to open, shallow-dug wells that are highly contaminated and take back containers to their houses. This water is prone to germs and disease.” Students at NUS have been working with the non-profit organization SIBAT ,to create solar-powered water pumps. But all good things come at a price. Each water pump costs $4000 USD, a price the local government cannot afford to spend, even to help those in desperate need. This is where the student volunteers have stepped in.

“Local people have had to walk to open, shallow-dug wells that are highly contaminated and take back containers to their houses”

Ragragio said: “It’s expensive, but fitting a pump deep into the ground provides much safer water. We hope that the pump in Tolosa is the first of many to be installed in the region.”

Ragragio’s is just one example of many student volunteer projects. Liam Rodgers’ story is very different from Ragragio’s: his is a story of Upscribe, a project he set up in 2014 to help disadvantaged people communicate through an online forum. According to the website, “The emphasis is on using creativity to boost self-esteem and accessibility to the arts with an additional consequence of social inclusion and impact.”

This year, Liam won the Student Volunteer Award due to the success of his project. Upscribe provides workshops to help vulnerable people; Liam and fellow students work alongside the group to produce creative writing in all forms. The pieces produced are then edited by the students and published. This gives both students and writers an immense sense of achievement and self worth, and further empowerment which goes far beyond merely seeing their name in print. This imbues both motivation for the writers and satisfaction for the volunteers.

“There is one thing both volunteering projects have in common: they show us the ability of a small number to make a big change”

Volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes. Ragragio’s project is particularly practical, whilst Liam’s works with subtlety to provide those in need with purpose and direction. However, there is one thing both volunteering projects have in common: they show us the ability of a small number to make a big change.

Beth Webb-Strong

Image courtesy of Daniel Thornton on flickr 

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