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This guest blog is by John Bird, co-founder of The Big Issue magazine who says that homeless people need a “hand up, not a hand-out”. Anyone who has seen the power of volunteerism must welcome the advent of Sewa Day. A day when you are asked to volunteer for the betterment of others, without reward, anonymously and without praise.
I have over many years seen the profound affects that being a volunteer can bring in the lives of people. It reminds you of our humanity, and how only by banding together into joint actions can we bring goodness and justice into the world.
Doug, a homeless man lost in defeat and self pity, in drunk and personality problems was lifted high when we got him to volunteer. But once he saw the magic of the ability to help others on his own life he was transformed. We did not have to cajole him into helping ever again; he was ahead of us.
Sewa Day, which, acts internationally, needs to be supported for its devotion to delivering to those who volunteer and those whom are helped. This is “a hand up and not a handout”, the mantra that is behind The Big Issue. It is a way of helping us all engage at many levels in what needs to be done in society.
I started The Big Issue in order to bring people in need in contact with people who have the means to help. Every person who buys the Big Issue is in some ways a volunteer to the cause of social justice and social opportunity. I started The Big Issue to bring people together who seldom met, and out of this our great international project grew.
Ours is a partnership between the homeless, the public, the voluntary section, business and government. We unify and we make things happen. That is why when we were offered the chance of working with Sewa Day we jumped at the chance to make some contribution.
Thousands of people will be rallying to Sewa Day and I recommend that we all join in. Let us make the care and help and encouragement and support of others, our big and mighty call. Especially, at a time, when people are looking for guidance and leadership. Let us help those who cannot help themselves so that one-day they can not only help themselves, but can also grow to help others.
Let the poorest and the most comfortable among us make the big difference that only the care of others make sense of our lives. Let us be bullish in this market place of purpose.
I salute and warmly welcome the efforts of Sewa Day to get us all off of our collective butts and into action on 7th October 2012.