Volunteering in Oceania

Cathy Aiavao

Why volunteer? Many other jobs have better pay and benefits. More equipment and resources as well, the further south you travel.

I have done volunteer work in places like Samoa, Fiji and, for the last ten years, New Zealand.

There are obvious differences: Samoa and Fiji have fewer people (one million+) than NZ (nearing five million), are smaller island economies, and much less funding and resources.

Yet, from personal experience, the volunteer sector there is just as committed, and just as stressful, rewarding and exciting.

I believe job satisfaction comes into it more than we might realise. This is not to say life as a volunteer is perfect, far from it.

Who hasn’t had days when you end up frustrated, and just want to ….

Anyway, I believe we, individually and as a community, place a high value on volunteering because it uses something more precious than money and materials.

It requires your time. You will never get it back.

You can make more money somewhere else. And you can build something over and over again.

But what a volunteer gives up, for someone else, has its own value.

As a volunteer, and currently as a manager of volunteers, I get to work with some awesome, committed young people who are giving up their time and expertise on a cause that they are most passionate about.

Volunteers come from all backgrounds.

They join for various reasons, and stay for different lengths of time, but their work is building a culture of volunteering that we should be proud of, wherever they serve.

Whether you work as a volunteer fulltime, or in between other responsibilities, it all adds up.

I hope more people think of volunteering in their community. Someone, somewhere, will thank you for it.

Cathy Aiavao
Cathy Aiavao, Board Member – Pacific Peoples

Cathy works for the youth development organisation Youthline. Before returning to New Zealand 10 years ago, she spent 20+ years in Fiji and Samoa, as a volunteer and in airline services.

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