Volunteer at Disaster Sites- Is it for you

Do your really want to be a volunteer at disaster sites?

Before you make up your mind there are a few points that you may want to consider.

You may feel inspired to follow in the footsteps of the Good Samaritan, but do you really have what it takes to be a “disaster volunteer?”

  • The first question that you need to ask yourself is-do you really want to do something that will make you work for others without any “monetary” benefits? You will be helping others simply because you want to help them.
  • Volunteering at disaster sites can be a back-breaking task. It can really take a toll on your health, especially if you happen to be a senior citizen. Will you be able to work under difficult or even hostile conditions for long stretches of time? Often, volunteers at disaster sites may have to work for fourteen hours or more, at a stretch. The living conditions may be far from comfortable. At times, volunteers need to make their own arrangements for food and accommodation.
  • Volunteering at disaster sites is one of those rare activities that actually help you touch human lives and make a difference. It is an interesting and rewarding task, but we wouldn’t call it fun.
  • People whom you may be trying to help might not be full of gratitude for the time and effort you’ve invested in helping them. This is quite normal- imagine you have lost your home, or a family member, or a loved one is trapped under the debris and precious seconds are being lost, or maybe you are badly injured; would you have any time for “pleasantries”? At times, people you are desperately trying to help will vent their frustration and anger on you. It can be really difficult. You should ask yourself if you could work under conditions of extreme stress and confusion.
  • One of the roles for volunteers is to counsel victims of disaster. You need experience and training if you want to do this successfully. This is one of the reasons why senior citizens are popular as counselors. At any disaster site, volunteers are faced with death and devastation. Quite often, disaster volunteers are quite overwhelmed with the pain and suffering they are faced with. If you are overwhelmed, how can you counsel a victim to be “steady?”
  • Also, as a volunteer, you cannot “do your own thing.” You have to follow the directions of those who have been appointed to take control of the situation. You should be able to adjust and co-ordinate with others in your group. You have to be a “group performer” and a team member if you really want to work as a volunteer at a disaster site.
  • If you want to work at disaster sites in foreign countries, you need to ensure you have a valid passport and visa.
  • You may be required to leave your home at a moment’s notice, to travel to the site of the disaster.

If you’re still not put off, then perhaps it’s a good idea for you to know about where or how you may receive training to be a volunteer.

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