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What Have You Given Today?

Photo by: Andronicus Gonsalverz

Andronicus Gonsalverz vividly remembers as a teenager meeting a group of people who had been living in houses made out of recycled items. Haunted by that memory, the 19-year-old has been spurred to volunteer for his community. To start, he volunteers two days a week to teach the unprivileged high school refugee students who cannot afford tuition at St. Joseph under the Educare program.

These students are international IGCSE students who are aged 13-15 years old. Andronicus says he has been successful in getting dozens of teenagers in getting proper tuition.

As Andronicus continues to serve the community’s youth, he has become an exemplary volunteer to many others. Moreover, he has made outstanding contributions in fostering mutual understanding and respect among people.

“I think it all started from church. My group of friends and I had always been interested in volunteering; thus, we associated ourselves with camps, and our teachers taught us a lot of things. It instilled ambition in our hearts; hence we took it as a challenge upon ourselves,” answers Andronicus to a question about what sparked an interest in him to volunteer. He obstinately believes that giving has no limits as generosity takes on many forms.

Photo by: Andronicus Gonsalverz

Christmas of 2019 represents a milestone moment for him as it was the most memorable accomplishment of his volunteer experience. Andronicus tells the story as if it happened yesterday: It was during Christmas when he was 18 years old. He and a group of friends came together for carolling at a children’s orphanage.

Although some of his friends had difficulties with their schedules, they came together to make the carolling successful. However, Andronicus started volunteering during his high school days. He finds the importance of curriculum-based programmes not only provides a unique opportunity for students but can help students to find a way to integrate their interests in the outdoors into their future academic and career paths.

“Yes, I think it’s very important to engage young people in charities through the school curriculum. It’s a compulsory thing for the teachers to do so and the government to implement. With this, we can actually find a lot of talent, form leaders and spark creativity,” he says. These experiences became an integral part of his development, and as attested by Andronicus, helped him see the bigger picture of his impact, as well as recognize his privilege.

“I’m very thankful to have been gifted with the life that I have. The volunteer experience was far more rewarding and meaningful use of my time. Just being able to help them in any way that I can and seeing them smile makes me happy,” Andronicus exclaimed

He thinks being relatively young at the time of volunteering was a very pivotal point in his growth. His worldview had changed, and his desire to always make a difference for other people grew.

Photo by: Andronicus Gonsalverz

The idea of learning and acquiring knowledge made volunteering effortless for him. “I’m someone who seeks knowledge and enjoys learning therefore, I think the experience was the biggest personal benefit that I have learned throughout my experience as a volunteer,” Andronicus said.

Last but not least, Andronicus did not forget to pass on a message to those starting their volunteering journey. “There is mounting evidence that volunteering and other forms of community involvement are more than feel-good activities. ​Ultimately, volunteering allows youth to work through real and meaningful change. No matter how big or small the help might be, at the end of the day, other people’s happiness is what matters. Go out there and make a definite change.”

By Premi a/p T. Saravanan


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