Cyrillis Micheal is not a healthcare professional but he works tirelessly to ensure his community in Kampung Mototou in Sook, Sabah stays safe during the pandemic.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the security guard has been distributing face masks and educating villagers on safety measures to keep the virus at bay as part of his volunteer work with humanitarian organisation World Vision Malaysia (WVM).
"I've read so much about Covid-19 and I am actually scared to contract the infectious disease. Because of that, I take steps to protect my community from being infected and infecting others.
"I actively raise awareness among my community on the ways to curb and prevent the spread of Covid-19 so that I can protect myself and my family," said Micheal, 32, in an email interview.
International Volunteer Day, mandated by the United Nations General Assembly, is celebrated annually on Dec 5. It is a special day set aside to recognise volunteers like Micheal and their efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
"I found out about WVM through my village leaders. I was impressed with WVM and their work and decided to join them to help improve the wellbeing of children in my village.
"The lack of youths in my village makes me feel that I need to partner with WVM in carrying out the activities. It is an opportunity for me to serve and be an agent of change in my community.
"My biggest challenge is getting the villagers to participate in community-based activities," shared Micheal, who works at a school in Sook, an interior town two hours' drive from the state capital. Micheal encourages youths to be agents of change in their own community. Photo: Freepik
Over the years, he's been educating his community on the importance of education, nutrition and child protection.
"I am always thrilled to hear success stories from the community. The best ones are about children who once participated in WVM activities who are now more focused and excel in their academic studies. These changes touch my heart," said Micheal.
Often, his own children accompany him during his volunteer efforts. They help him put up banners, posters and distribute them to the community.
"One of them will also act as a photographer. I expose them to volunteer work at an early age so that they will understand that it is a good practice that will make the load lighter when many hands come together to help others.
"In addition, they can be good examples for the other children to help one another regardless of age or gender."
Micheal views charity work as a noble deed and encourages people to do their part to help others in need.
"Volunteer work has opened my mind and it has helped me become more mature.
"In addition, my volunteering experience has given me a better understanding of the wellbeing of children, which starts from the awareness of parents, adults and their peers.
"I call on Malaysian youths to band together and be agents of change starting from their own community." Tan (centre) thinks anyone can start volunteering by choosing a cause they are passionate about.
Meanwhile, Tan Ming Sen, 41, has been a WVM volunteer for 23 years. The Batu Pahat, Johor-born Tan first signed up for the role during WVM's 30-Hour Famine – an advocacy campaign against hunger and poverty – event in 1997.
"During the event, I noticed the staff was busy and worked non-stop. So I volunteered to help with data entry, and that's how I started my volunteering journey with WVM.
"Over the years, I have helped during WVM's roadshows, activities and events, including leading its security team during the 30-Hour Famine in 2005," said Tan, who has also volunteered with the International Red Cross and Lions Club.
He believes anyone can start volunteering by choosing a cause they are passionate about.
"When there's a will, there's a way. Start with volunteer work that does not require too much commitment. There will naturally be no time constraints after you have found the sense of participation," said Petaling Jaya-based Tan, who works as a lead project manager at a telecommunications company.
His volunteer work is per project basis and based on WVM's activities."I am fortunate that I don't have to compromise much of my full-time work for my volunteer activities. There always seems to be no clash between my volunteer work and my job; it is like a miracle!"
Tan said volunteer work has changed his perspective of life.
"I cherish life and relationships more, especially the love for my parents.
"In the past, I wasn't an outspoken person, but through volunteer work, I have had the opportunity to lead a team and grow as a volunteer leader. I am thankful for all the recognition I received from WVM over the years," he said.
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