City’s ‘Do-gooders’ can be annoying as hell

NGOs and citizens who organise drives to help less-privileged say that volunteers can often behave thoughtlessly.

Published: 09th January 2018 03:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th January 2018 08:23 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Bengaluru now seems caught in a storm of volunteering, with people helping the less fortunate, cleaning up dirty spots and sharing all of it on social media. But volunteers are not always happy to help or generous-spirited. They do not follow instructions or simply refuse certain jobs, because they find it ‘beneath’ them, say organisers of events and drives. City Express asks volunteers and organisations to share their experiences with ‘do-gooders’ from hell


A volunteer Karthik who has been working for several causes with a group says there are a few who come to the events 'only to flirt with women'. "They take advantage of any situation. They get the contact details of girls, insist on traveling with them even when the girls don't look comfortable with it," he says.


There are volunteers who don’t follow instructions given by an NGO’s management. Sanjana Mandappa from CUPA says a volunteer had reached the center late, when it had closed for the day, and tried to play with the dogs there. "She got bitten by a dog. Luckily, our manager was there and an immediate intervention could be done. Had he not been there, it could have been disastrous," she says. “They do not follow simple instructions, which leads to an accident…and then the dog or the NGO is blamed," she says. Keerthan Vignesh R P, a wildlife rehabilitator from People for Animals (PFA), says volunteers are not patient enough to learn the entire rescue operation, thus risking their and animal's safety. "After a two-day session with a senior rescuer, they attempt a rescue themselves. A volunteer got bitten by a Russel Viper snake once after he tried rescuing the snake. He had observed a senior rescuer doing it and thought it's easy," he says.


Indian volunteers are not open to doing every task like foreign volunteers are, says Fr George Kannanthanam, founder of Project Vision and a social worker. He has worked with leprosy patients in the rehab center in Sumanahalli and he recalls how volunteers were assigned administrative jobs because they refuse to interact with patients. "They are not comfortable working with HIV or leprosy survivors,” he says. “They ask for accommodation in guest houses even when we ask them to stay in the block where the patients are lodged”. He adds that these patients, shunned by families and villagers, are hurt by this behavior. He says foreign volunteers are better, even though there is a language barrier, they play with them and interact with them using sign language.


Children are encouraged to do social work at school, which then rewards them with points or certificate. But this does not inspire generosity in the students. "A few children had to come to an old-age home for a paper-bag-making workshop, as part of their school work. They were there for scoring points and were hardly interacting with the elderly people. Children are too young to understand how much their help means to the elderly," says Amarnath Ganesh from the group Volunteer For a Cause. Adult donors and volunteers too can act without thought, he says, like celebrating their child's birthday at orphanages, he adds. “The home’s children may end up feeling bad that they can’t have such bashes”.


Selfies to show off on social media are the biggest problem, adds Keerthan. He was training a volunteer group a few years back, and one of the members decide to try rescue without the necessary training. "He would click pictures with the animals and post them on Facebook. When I came to know of this, I yelled at him and he agreed to stop. But he continued the same practice on another social media website. I heard about this through friends and kept advising him. Finally, after many sessions, he realised his mistake and stopped, he says. Karthik says that people behave meanly to children at orphanages too. “Children get excited and come to sit on their laps, a few volunteers push them away. They stand with the children only when it is time to click photos, which they then share on Facebook," he says. "When a requirement to help children with special needs or assist visually impaired people on a trip out of town are posted on our WhatsApp group, nobody comes forward, but if it's a birthday celebration at an orphanage or a carnival we organise, volunteers pour in," he adds.

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