Originally posted on Monday, 2 June 2008 at 09:10
Remembering the time when I was back in university… out of my 5 years of study, I spent more than 2 years being a volunteer for an NGO which mission is to end world hunger.
Of course, it was local NGO, We helped WFP to distribute the rice, and more things, giving out counseling to the poor, educating some people on how important it is to have a perfect balance of nutrition in their everyday diet. There were so many things that we did. All of them are in Indonesia. Seems like our work was never done, there was always another new starving family every month, and I could bet that there were a lot more that weren’t even listed in our list of poor family, yet, they’re still living in deep poverty more than you could imagine.
Sometimes you could drop your tears just looking at the whole image of people lining up for rice, not really sure, if you can actually think clearly if you see kids crying of hunger, faces of mothers who couldn’t afford to feed their children.
This is the time when you don’t know whether you should be using your feeling and give them as much food as we could, or sometimes you just have to be straightly logical that you don’t have much that you could give.
Other than the crying episodes, we also had our angry episodes.
Where there are not many company that could sponsor us. Seriously, do you think just by being a volunteer we make a lot of money? We didn’t get much. Sometimes I had to pay for my own taxi fare, and back then it costed me over Rp.100K to go home from work. The only reimburse I got was a bus reimburse of Rp.10K, and almost every night I had to go home pass midnight, and there was absolutely no bus that late, beside going home alone by bus after midnight is not the safest way of traveling home for a girl in Jakarta.
Other than paying off more than I got reimbursed for, I also had to go around Jakarta meeting people from WFP, Unicef, ILO, and all those INGO so that they could sponsor some of our program.
Some people looking at us like beggars, they didn’t even care that we existed, they didn’t even thank us for going all the way to the small villages that they didn’t feel like it’s safe to go. So who’s gonna go there if not the smaller NGO that they’ve approved to distribute the donations.
When we decided to ask from sponsors outside the INGO, we started going to some of the biggest food company in the country, we had a couple of boxes of biscuits and shirts, and some money that was just enough for our transportation. And they thought that they were just so great for giving us some biscuits to distribute and giving us a couple of million rupiahs for our operational cost. We were thankful for what they gave us, at least they contributed something. But then again, we still had to dig our own pocket for more operational costs.
Not only all the volunteer were just poor students, we had to stay over at the office sometimes, and leaving our parents stressing out at home for their kids that hadn’t come home for the last few days.
We got yelled A LOT by our parents, it’s a good thing if our parents didn’t have a heart problem, but one of parents did. That’s when we felt very guilty. We were caring so much about other people, but we’ve been neglecting our family’s feelings at home.
One day, we got an idea of making an event, so people would notice us as a big NGO, this of course, will help us finding more sponsors. When we want to have an event, it will be great, if we ask some celebrities to join the event, but none of them would actually do it for free. What?? Man, this is a charity program and you still asked for money from us, the poor volunteer who sometimes had to borrow money to buy us some food so that we wouldn’t be ending up starving?
Catch 22… We need to be big to get sponsors, and yet, we will never get big without sponsors.
Watching the infotainment this morning on how all these celebrities having a big event “Ending World Hunger”, I can finally smile, maybe this time they were not paid to sing on the stage.
The other good thing is that the NGO that I was in, has been getting some sponsors, which is good, at least, this time they didn’t have to go through all the troubles that we went through. Sometimes I feel like popping by the office and just say hi to the current volunteer, I hope to see all the smiling face that show that they’ve gone through much better condition than when I and my other volunteer friends did back then…