Thousands of volunteers from our corporate partners donate their time to teach, train and mentor young people to help build their confidence and employability skills. To mark International Volunteering Day 2019, SOS Children’s Villages spoke to volunteers from our global partners to hear how volunteering has affected them and the communities where they work.
"Volunteering is the ultimate payback to those who helped me on my road,” says volunteer Olga Zaytseva, head of the Business Training Center at AkzoNobel Russia. “In difficult moments in life, there were people nearby who gave me hope.”
AkzoNobel is one of six global partners working with SOS Children’s Villages to address global youth unemployment through the YouthCan! programme. YouthCan! matches young people with employees who provide guidance, first work experience and training to support their transition to independent adulthood. The programme is an example of a shift from corporate social responsibility to corporate shared value, as it goes beyond giving back to society and moves toward action that adds value to both society and business.
Siegwerk employee and YouthCan! volunteer Nelson Figueroa, based in Bogota, Colombia, recalls his own eye-opening experience with community engagement.
“Seeing the young people so interested, excited and grateful for the opportunity to develop plans for their own futures was powerful,” Mr Figueroa, Commercial Director at Siegwerk Colombia, says. “With the support of initiatives such as YouthCan!, lives will be saved."
Volunteers tell us they benefit from the mentor-mentee relationship as much as the young people. Studies have shown that employees who volunteer are more motivated and engaged, becoming more satisfied with their employer. Through volunteering activities, employees can improve upon useful skills such as presentation and mentoring skills, while also gaining insight into future generations and deepening their understanding of the communities they live in.
Lynn Rifayi works as a Medical Science Liaison at Janssen EMEA in Beirut, Lebanon and volunteers with YouthCan! as part of the SOS Children’s Villages global partnership with Johnson & Johnson.
“I am fortunate to work for a company that supports employees in volunteering in their communities and values community service as much as I do,” says Ms Rifayi, who has personally experienced the far-reaching benefits of volunteering. “To be a mentor makes you a more understanding human being, but it also lets you learn new things and improve your communication and interpersonal skills.”
The effect and impact of volunteering on the volunteer is often unexpected and leaves a long-lasting impression on both parties.
Tefy works for DHL Express Madagascar as an IT officer. As part of the YouthCan! initiative, DHL Madagascar is providing mentoring, training and practice opportunities to young people from SOS Children’s Villages programmes.
Tefy Rakotondralambo, IT officer at DHL Express Madagascar, remembers being the mentor of a young man who grew up in a local SOS village. “It was a really special and valuable experience for me,” says Mr Rakotondralambo. “He took the internships very seriously, and I am happy to have been able to support his integration into professional life.”
Positively impacting a life sometimes takes little more than listening or letting someone’s voice be heard, says Viviane Lopes Fonseca, Human Resource Analyst at thyssenkrupp Elevator Brazil.
“Volunteer work is an exchange where you believe you are doing something for someone, but it is you who ends up learning,” Ms Fonseca adds.
Angitta nur Fazila, who works as an Internal Communications Specialist at Allianz Indonesia, say that volunteering is worth the time and effort.
“By seeing the smiles and laughter of young people, all negative feelings and thoughts are instantly gone, and I feel my hard work has paid off,” says Ms Nur Fazila, a YouthCan! volunteer.
“In the end, all volunteering activities will become part of your life and you will be left feeling more 'human'," she says.
SOS Children’s Villages works to confront the challenge of youth employment rates across the globe.
The global youth employment initiative YouthCan!, which encompasses a number of corporate partners, has now reached more than 5,000 young people in more than 30 countries. Working with around 1,300 corporate volunteers to offer trainings, exposure to their first working environment and in-person and online mentoring, YouthCan! strives to bridge the opportunity gap for disadvantaged youths so they can reach their potential.