Although Lebanon is a relatively small country, it’s densely packed with its share of problems. Our shoreline is polluted, our labour laws are backwards and unfair, and we have around a million Syrian refugees lacking proper treatment, to name a few. Young people often often feel overwhelmed by the enormity of these problems, with too much to handle ultimately leaving them wanting to help but not knowing where to begin.
For anyone who has felt this way, there’s finally a tool to help bridge that gap. The Volunteer Circle (TVC) is a new non-profit start up that aims to connect prospective volunteers with NGOs. Founded by Nadine Makarem and Malak Yacout, the idea of TVC occurred to them when they realised that a huge pool of people want to help but do not know what the first step is.
“When I lived in the UK, the Syria crisis had just started. So many international students at university asked me “How can we help Lebanon deal with the impact? Where can we volunteer? Where can we donate?” And I was ashamed that I had no answer, even though my entire professional experience was with the third sector,” Makarem told Beirut Today.
Currently raising funds through crowdfunding to kickstart the non-profit organization, The Volunteer Circle hopes to create an easy and convenient platform to connect NGOs and volunteers. Interested NGOs will register with TVC and put up classified ads listing what they are looking for; it could be something as small as a beach clean up or as major as a longer term position requiring specific skills.
Since all these NGOs will be under one roof, volunteers will be able to find something that specifically fits their skills, location, interests and schedule.
“We are keen on the term “skill-sharing platform” because the idea is to contribute quality, more than just your presence.” Makarem explains.
People often complain that nothing is changing, but nothing can obviously change without collective effort. It is clear that two parallel mountains stretch across Lebanon: the need for action by civil society and people’s desire to help. With The Volunteer Circle, finding volunteer work will be made easily accessible to everyone.
Makarem also explained how TVC is designed to provide ordinary young Lebanese citizens with much needed opportunities.
“With an employment crisis across the country, volunteering is NOT a solution, but could be a means to an end and a way by which to expand one’s experience and social network,” she said.
So let’s say you’ve just graduated from University with a degree in Education and are currently stuck looking for employment. Through The Volunteer Circle, you might find a listing from an NGO looking for teachers. Or perhaps you have a free weekend and are interested in humanitarian work; you could potentially find a soup kitchen looking for someone to fill a spot.
The Volunteer Circle is definitely a vital tool in remedying some of the problems facing Lebanon today. It almost feels like a no-brainer, a thing that should already exist. Supporting TVC is a simple way to empower civil society and to work towards building a brighter future for all. You can help this project reach its potential by donating or even just sharing their link on social media. All proceeds will go to designing and managing the website and enabling TVC to reach out to as many NGOs as possible.