Many experts believe that in the 21st century, the welfare state and the free market were unable to ensure efficiency and justice in the social sphere, both in relation to people with disabilities and those in need of social support. That is why in many countries of the world, the state relieves the transfer of care of marginalized groups of the population to voluntary communities. This reduces government spending on solving social problems. It is known that M. Thatcher, for example, proposed to preserve social assistance exclusively on a voluntary basis [Brozmanová et Stachoň, 2014].
However, the significant development of public organizations and volunteer programs in the seventies of the 20th century was not only a response to social challenges and imperfect government policies but also an expression of growing civic responsibility, people’s attempts to solve problems on their own, using their own visions and ideas. Volunteers do more than just provide services, they help strengthen social sustainability, they develop social cohesion and participate in the formation of civil societies, and in addition, they fiercely protect vulnerable people.
Thus, the mission of volunteers of the International Association Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), founded in 1971, is to provide vital medical care to the most needy – the affected population, victims of natural or man-made disasters and victims of armed conflicts. They do this regardless of gender, race, religion, creed or political opinion.
As volunteers, members understand the risks and dangers of the tasks they perform and do not claim any form of compensation other than that which the association could afford [Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, 2015].
There is no doubt that volunteering can bring tangible results, but they will be realized only if there is political support at the local and global level. Given the ability of volunteers to achieve and build capacity in communities that are often difficult to achieve in other ways, and the availability of diverse forms of volunteering, experts believe that volunteering will be crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, for example, goal 2 to eliminate hunger and achieve food security, as well as organizing proper nutrition. The participation of local volunteers can significantly affect the development of the initiative, and thus volunteering can contribute to the revitalization of local governments and institutions. Volunteers can be strong advocates for the rights and interests of communities, giving voices to the marginalized and acting as intermediaries and bridges between them and wider communities.
Nonetheless, volunteerism requires investment – in the creation of an enabling environment, training, organizational and technical expenses, equipment, removal of obstacles, protection, and so on [Global Review on Volunteering, 2015].
Formally organized and managed volunteering has evolved over the past few years, especially in the field of social welfare and health care. The emphasis on managerial leadership style in volunteering and the associated trend of professionalizing work with volunteers overlaps with the nature of formally organized social work.
Volunteer management is becoming an important issue for national societies, and it is increasingly being included in strategic development plans for society. On December 30, 2016, Kazakhstan adopted a law on volunteer activities, which establishes the legal framework, goals and objectives, principles, forms, and types, as well as measures to support volunteer activities.
For a national society, efforts to develop volunteering are long-term investments and commitments. Kazakhstan has begun an analysis of the current state of development and support for voluntary movements. It is about monitoring organizations, as well as the current practice of planning and organizing various programs and activities carried out by volunteers. The importance of the initiative lies in the fact that it gives rise to the creation of an enabling environment for volunteering through raising awareness of the importance of volunteering, effective humanitarian assistance. Probably, it is not surprising that youth volunteer organizations, especially those participating in events of national importance, such as EXPO, Universiade, commemorative flash mobs, etc., will be prioritized for support, including funding.
Meanwhile, volunteers in Kazakhstan are implementing many useful, less visible, but no less socially significant cases. Members of the Rina.kz movement are a volunteer organization that searches for missing people in Kazakhstan. They work in 32 cities of the country and cooperate with volunteers from Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Russia. Their pages are in all social networks. Although this organization is not officially registered, all units are supervised through Whatsapp. There are no fees for leaflets and transport. If members of the group have gathered to search, then food, money for travel and everything that may be needed to search for a stranger – at their own expense. Unfortunately, people disappear every day, it happens that many searches are closed after the statute of limitations, but volunteers publish announcements, even if a person disappeared 10 years ago. There are a lot of cases when the search team members find the missing person, and many caring people help them in the mass search. They provide special vehicles, boats, flashlights and even rubber boots for carding hard-to-reach parts of the forest [The Village Kazakhstan, 2018]
For them, being a volunteer means sacrificing time and energy to save someone’s life, to find someone and sometimes risk losing yourself. People from different spheres are trying to make their own contribution in order to preserve human values. This is the essence of a human being.
To realize their need to be useful, people just have to find like-minded people among those who live nearby. Sometimes it is difficult to pass by someone else’s grief. And what else is very important, if today you help someone, then tomorrow maybe other people will help you. Now the Internet provides tremendous opportunities: through any search on social networks, it is easy to find people who are already doing something, find volunteers and connect to them. In the Charity Aruzhan Sain Foundation, there are people who can do something with their own hands. For example, massage for children with cerebral palsy. The surgeon circumcises boys from poor families and orphanages for free. Next to him, oculists, dentists, lawyers, psychologists, and teachers also work for free. An elderly person every week comes to children at the center “Autism can be defeated!” and plays African drums. Here everyone just does what he can and the way he wants [Kruglova, 2018].
There is a very subtle and important moment in the volunteer movement – it must be accomplished from the heart, and not under the pressure of organizational and administrative plans and measures. It’s hard to do good on the orders, I hope that the committees and officials responsible for working with volunteer organizations, understand this. Volunteering is an act of free will of a free person.
Brozmanová Gregorová, Alžbeta et Stachoň, Marek (2014). Volunteering in the Context of Social Work – Historical Connection and Perspectives. Retrieved from Historia i Polityka. – #12 (19). Accessed on 10.03.2019
Global Review on Volunteering (2015). International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Retrieved from https://www.ifrc.org/Global/Publications/volunteers/1301100-Global-Review-on-Volunteering-Report_EN.pdf . Accessed on 10.03.2019
Kruglova, Dana (2018). Aruzhan Sain: I am absolutely not ready to take the chair of the children’s ombudsman. Retrieved from https://informburo.kz/interview/aruzhan-sain-ya-kategoricheski-ne-gotova-zanimat-kreslo-detskogo-ombudsmena.html. Accessed on12.03.2019
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) (2015). Retrieved from https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/principles/charter. Accessed on 12.03.2019
The Village Kazakhstan (2018). Most of the children’s loss occurs through the fault of parents.
Retrieved from https://www.the-village.kz/village/people/people/2593-volontery-rina-kz-bolshinstvo-propazh-detey-na-sovesti-roditeley. Accessed on 11.03.2019
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute’s editorial policy.
Nadirova Gulnar Ermuratovna graduated from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, in 1990 she defended her thesis on the Algerian literature at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, in 2006 doctoral thesis - on modern Tunisian literature at the Tashkent Institute of Oriental Studies, Professor.