Every day, volunteers from all around the world dedicate their time and effort to make our planet a better place to live. Whether it is helping the elderly, organising awareness campaigns about environmental issues or using their skills to support those in need, each activity enriches not only those they help, but also the volunteers themselves. Read an interview with our volunteer Eliška, who talks about her motivation that convinced her to start volunteering.
In just a few days we will celebrate International Volunteer Day, which falls on Sunday 5 December. On this occasion we interviewed one of our volunteers. Eliška Sladovníková is a journalism student at Charles University and in her free time she helps the Caritas Czech Republic's foreign department with preparing graphic materials and creating texts for social media. Why did she decide to start volunteering and what has this activity brought to her life? Eliška answers these and other questions in the folowing interview.
When did you first get into volunteering?
Coincidentally, volunteering for Caritas Czech Republic is my first experience of volunteering. I started at Caritas in January this year, so in a few months it will be almost a year that I have been helping out. I am surprised myself now that it has been so long.
At the moment you are helping in the international department of Caritas Czech Republic. How did you originally come to this opportunity?
A year ago I decided to apply to study journalism at Charles University and I wanted to gain experience somewhere. So I looked for different opportunities. I came across a Caritas advert where they were looking for volunteers to write texts for the website and it seemed like a great opportunity. Not only will I be helping a great organisation, but I'll be educating myself and gaining experience in a slightly different way. I ended up working on social media, which I also really enjoy.
There are many different volunteer opportunities to choose from. Why did you decide to start helping out in the Humanitarian Aid and Development Cooperation department of Caritas Czech Republic?
As I mentioned, I wanted to gain more experience in writing and I also like foreign languages. That's why I liked writing posts in both Czech and English, or translating articles. I'm also interested in what's happening in different parts of the world and I thought I would learn information from a different perspective.
Can you explain what exactly you do for Caritas Czech Republic as a volunteer?
As a volunteer, I create several social media posts a month for the organisation. I enjoy graphic design a lot, so I create simple informational posts that aim to engage and highlight important events happening in the world.
That sounds interesting. Is it a challenging job?
Sometimes I come up with a concept very quickly, but some of the heavier topics take me longer because I try to get the issue right without making it light or distorted.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
I enjoy the fact that I can use my skills for a good cause and help someone else. I feel good about creating something and then seeing it on Instagram. I'm most pleased when a post has a positive response. Then I can only hope that it finds the right people and achieves its goal, whether it is educating users, bringing attention to a problem, or calling for help.
You got into volunteering earlier this year. Would you say it has managed to make a difference to your life in that time?
Definitely. I've gained a different perspective on what's going on in the world. I'm also much more aware now of how bad the situation is in some parts of the world. It seems to me that the media always talks about it for a little while, so you don't realise that the problems are still there and need to be addressed.
What do you do when you are not volunteering?
I already mentioned that I'm studying at university for a master's degree in journalism. Now I'm getting to know the field and finding out how challenging it is. As an undergraduate, I majored in multimedia at the Prague University of Economics and Business, and so professionally, I'm doing marketing, graphic design, or photography. Otherwise, I love to travel, when there's not a pandemic. I fell in love with Portugal at Erasmus and I plan to go back at least once more. I also like to bake, especially brownies, draw or play sports.
How do people in your neighbourhood perceive your volunteering?
I admit that I don't really discuss my volunteering with my friends or family. Rather, I discuss with them the problems and events I write about. Sometimes they are surprised when I bring up a detailed fact that sticks in my mind, for example, about the situation in Afghanistan.
Why do you think volunteering is important - both for those the volunteer is helping and for the volunteers themselves?
It is definitely important for the volunteer to gain new experiences and develop in a slightly different direction than in a normal working environment. Because working with people who are fighting for something with motivations other than money and power is something completely different. I love it when I meet someone who is really passionate about a good cause, it's always very inspiring.
It can mean hope for the people the volunteer helps, a feeling that someone is thinking of them and hasn't forgotten them. It can also give them the courage to fight for their lives.
What message would you give to people who are thinking about volunteering?
I hope my answer doesn't sound too cliché, but if you enjoy something and want to develop your skills, volunteering is a great way to do it. It will recharge you with a whole different energy and after all, feeling good for the work you do is priceless.
Thank you for the interview.
Want to volunteer? Check out the current opportunities in the Humanitarian aid and development cooperation department of Caritas Czech Republic.