Brazilian Student Ambassador Sandra Rocha is an experienced volunteer. She has volunteered with a number of charities and community initiatives during her time in Dublin and believes it to be one of the most rewarding things to do in your free time. She’s here to give you all the information you need to start your volunteering journey. 

Through voluntary work, you will make many friends, feel good about the work you’re doing and feel a sense of fulfilment. 

When I arrived in Ireland, one of the first thrift stores went to was Gorta (Self Help Africa) – a charity that helps vulnerable African children. There, I learned how to organise clothes according to brands and quality, set prices and work as a cashier. The experience was amazing; learning the profession in retail and meeting people from different cultures who also work in social work. 

After that I volunteered at Oxfam – a confederation of 20 independent philanthropic organisations focused on global poverty alleviation – it’s also retail so I did the same jobs as when I worked in Gorta – Self Help Africa. The main difference here was that I worked through the peak of the pandemic and so we needed to follow all of the government’s safety guidelines such as enforcing the use of masks and taking the temperatures of customers. We found a lot of resistance from customers regarding the use of the mask.

Oxfam (photo: Oxfam Ireland)

As well as volunteering with charities, I also help the Stoneybatter community in my neighbourhood to keep the streets clean. Once a month cleaning is done to keep everything organised and, as a reward,  the environment thanks you. I have met some amazing people in the neighbourhood through this work. 

I also volunteered with the Hope Foundation – a charity that serves children from slums in Calcutta. I volunteered at an electronic music event, I made many friends. I worked in a bar and even watched the show for free and at the end, we had the biggest party, it was unforgettable. An experience to remember. 

When you live in another country, away from family and friends, volunteering helps you to connect and feel special. It is possible to volunteer for any cause of your choice or in a specific area of your profession if you want to have experience in another country. 

If you have a busy routine, it is possible to volunteer just one day a week for few hours.

If you don’t know where to start, here are some important tips…

Choosing a cause… 

Is there a cause close to your heart? Would you like to help an organisation that believes in achieving an important goal? Volunteering can make an invaluable difference to an organisation – just the right combination is enough to reap the benefits and rewards of volunteering. Children/youth, animals, art and culture, community development, health/hospitals, mental health, education/literacy, homeless – the list goes on. Find out what cause you would like to embrace. 

Follow the link below: 

Sandra is doing a BA(Hons) in Business at CCT College Dublin.