“My volunteer journey did not start fully until I was in college. Up until 2012, I was a very shy kid with no confidence at all. That changed when I was introduced to Y-PEER in college and started volunteering as a peer educator. I also noticed that many 1st year students in my college tried drugs and excessively drank in the name of fun. This did not mean that they were bad kids, so I decided to open a center called “Shine Youth Shine” to deter my college friends from drug and alcohol abuse and to help remind us to have fun in a positive way. Volunteerism opens a door to our inner selves and to the external world too. Personally, it feels as though deciding to start volunteering gave me wings to fly, before which I did not even have a feather.

Although I started out late, I feel like I have gotten far. I took up leadership roles from college level to national level and international level, all out of volunteerism. With Y-PEER I have taken up roles of trainer, communication coordinator, national coordinator and international coordinator. These roles enabled me to work with many other young people, within the country as well as in the region, which gave me immense knowledge and networking skills. I have had the opportunity to receive exposure to different countries and different people all thanks to volunteerism. In 2019, the once shy kid who had no confidence at all, had grown enough to win the Noble Citizen Award. The whole journey has been fun, rewarding and full of learning and there are still miles to go.

There were many things that inspired me on my journey. One of them was seeing young people who took leadership roles at different levels and realising that they were all volunteers. However, we cannot neglect that there are major challenges that come along with being a volunteer. Sometimes it is difficult to manage time, especially if you are a full time student. There is also a common misjudgement that we volunteer only for recognition. As a society, it is important that we allow space for our young people to contribute to nation building, and the basics of this is providing support to their volunteer journey. It can also be difficult for some volunteers to get support, especially if they are not linked with some organisations or groups. But the journey is worth it. So keep standing up for things you believe in and keep doing what you feel is best. I have come a long way and there is still so much more that I want to do for my community.”

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