There are 23 Rotary clubs in Singapore with about 1,000 members. This foundation is jointly supported by all 23 clubs. The Rotary movement is a worldwide organisation founded in 1905 by Paul Harris. Its motto is "Service above self".
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Challenging the notions of volunteerism
“Rotarians are all a certain type,” a friend recently remarked. “They all have such strong convictions and are always ever-ready to meet needs.”
Recalling my time with my junior college’s Interact Club (an arm of the Rotary Club), I realised I couldn’t agree more.
A common scepticism towards volunteer organisations like the Rotary Club is whether they are truly genuine in engaging real needs, or simply creating a false sense of altruism and “feel-good”. While I signed on quite readily with the club, I’ll have to admit I did share those reservations, especially with the floods of applications and hype created by the club’s myriad of activities.
My views, however, soon changed with my first few club sessions. Instead of the usual dangling of incentives to gain participation, I was amazed at the club’s dedication in challenging us towards “service above self” and equipping us for volunteering. I particularly remember an early training session where a fellow Rotarian left us this thought-provoking question, “What are our motivations for service? How often do we treat volunteerism as a means to fulfilling our own agendas, while disregarding the real needs of our target groups?” It’s little wonder that many of us eventually took great seriousness and initiative in our service involvements, even if we did not gain recognition for it.
Though I’ve since graduated and moved on from the club, it always amuses me how I would still be plagued by that nagging sense of injustice whenever volunteerism is treated as “just another programme”. The club is certainly far more than a warm and cushy place to interact – it’s a place to be challenged out of one’s comfort zone and rediscover what service truly entails.