The Cedar Mentorship Program coordinates monthly community service activities. The aim of the community service activities is to inculcate the values of servant leadership in our mentees and help our mentees appreciate and demand higher ideals therein. In the past, we have visited the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, elderly persons’ homes, motherless babies’ homes and others but on the 1st of April, 2017, we went for a clean-up exercise at Jabi Park Abuja. We call this “Adopt a Park”.
At first, when our Strategist Mr Shola Ola, suggested that we embark on this activity, it did not make much sense to me. Lots of thoughts raced through my mind and I voiced concerns such as:
- It’s a huge park and we are few in number, how much could we actually clean?
- I hate domestic work and physical activities, yet I now have to come clean the park in addition to the Saturday house chores which I am already obliged to do? What difference would it make, it would most probably still get littered again anyway.
I kept other thoughts to myself, thoughts such as, this guy has come with his American lifestyle, this is not America, this is Nigeria, he better wake up to the Naija life. I eventually decided to attend but already decided not to participate. I decided that I would just watch them and cheer them up, while they do the cleaning.
We conveyed at Jabi Park by 5pm. Hand gloves and disposable trash bags were distributed amongst the mentors and mentees, I reluctantly decided to participate. Wow – was my initial reaction when seeing the park! The park was really dirty! We spent about 5 minutes deciding how we would tackle the challenge in front of us. It became obvious to us that we would not be able to clean the whole park so we quickly decided to clean a section of the park.
We divided ourselves into teams of two. We picked trash – especially particles that would not decompose naturally. While we were going about our business, some of the park sanitation officials came to meet us and asked what we were doing. When we told them, they expressed how they were very impressed with the activity. They asked more about we do and how they could get involved. It was funny that they came to encourage us to do their work. This exercise lasted for about 2 hours, we had light refreshments played games, won gifts from “try your luck games “and the end of it all, I was glad that I participated.
There are so many benefits to participating in community service especially for young people and some of them are:
- Through community service, young people develop an increased sense of social responsibility, they learn to become agents of change, this is particularly important especially in Nigeria where community service is not common, we are more acquainted with the “what do I stand to gain” mind-set.
- There are still personal benefits to participating in community service, for example, young people get to build relationships with their peers and adults. It was so much fun bonding with Alexis and Ada king while we worked.
- It improves one’s physical and mental health. It reduces stress and tension because you are forced to engage in activities for the good of others, it serves as a mild form of exercise. It gives a sense of self efficacy and confidence which stems from the satisfaction we get from helping other people. It is therapeutic!
I look forward to more of these activities, I would also encourage parents, guardians and schools to inculcate the spirit of community service in young people. Do not be overwhelmed by the voluminous work to be done, do not think that your little effort would not make a difference, for example, during our cleaning exercise, I observed a lady who threw her snack packs on the floor and after staring at me for a while, she picked it up and threw it in the trash can (maybe, because I gave her a side eye). The lesson here is this, people get to learn from us, our actions can influence others to be better. And most importantly, our actions change us as individuals. We might not have made much of a difference in terms of the cleanliness of the park that day. But we, that participated in that activity, we know that it changed our perspective on little things like this and helped us to know that we are stewards of our world.
So, make an effort to volunteer today, daily, weekly, bi weekly, bi monthly or monthly. Just do what you can according to your capacity, share your resources such as energy, time, knowledge, money clothes etc.
#do something today# community service is fun #cedar mentorship program# one act of peace initiative.