THE public is fully aware of the crucial role of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and international organisations have played in alleviating poverty, assisting the physically challenged, promoting health awareness, vocational service, assisting schools, brightening the faces of those victims of natural disasters such as flooding, and also helping underprivileged children.
Throughout the world, non-governmental organisations such as the Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions have complemented the role of governments and philanthropists who are working assiduously to uplift and improve the lives of the poverty-stricken, downtrodden, alienated and marginalised.
Undoubtedly, we need more citizens who possess a vision and mindset as the many volunteers and civic-minded citizens.
Indeed, it is a noble gesture and definitely worthy of the highest commendation to voluntarily serve others, especially when the recipients are really in need and are neither relatives nor friends and nothing is expected in return, – no kickbacks. It is unfortunate that only a minority of our population are humanitarians and philanthropists. It is sad to say but many of the citizens prefer to choose lives of apathy or are selfishly materialistic rather than one of service.
Such negative attitudes have contributed to many of our social problems and spiralling crime rate. We often tend to talk and criticize rather than intervene to make a positive change.
The creation and functioning of clubs and organisations for teenagers and young adults to assist the less fortunate is another outstanding legacy. These groups will definitely mould the younger generation to be productive and disciplined citizens of high ethical standards within the workplace.
Furthermore, the humble mission of involvement in mentoring and job-training programmes will certainly help contribute to goodwill and peace in our country and the rest of the world. When you help the needy, mentally challenged, you are living the lives as expounded by all the great religions, religious leaders and so fulfilling your dharma.
Interestingly, but in my own small way I have also been attempting to create peace and goodwill among men and women by promoting the annual observance of International Men’s Day on 19 November. The objectives of International Men’s Day include promoting positive male role models, focusing on men’s positive contributions, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality and striving to create a safer, better world
Today, the challenge I want to pose to you, is to strive to find permanent solutions to eradicate poverty, homelessness, illiteracy and unemployment. You would be aware that there is a difference in meaning between the words ‘alleviate’: which means “to lessen or make easier to bear” and ‘eradicate’ meaning “to uproot” and “get rid of completely.”
We must be serious when striving to heal the wounds in society and work to eradicate social problems, then the initial step is to believe that this could be achieved. I want you to prove economists wrong, I want you to prove all the pessimists and politicians wrong. Be the eternal optimist. Many Governments wrongly believe that social problems as poverty will always exist.
Dr Jerome Teelucksingh is an activist. He initiated the inaugural observances of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Men and Boys (January 31) and World Day of the Boy Child (May 16). He has made academic presentations at tertiary institutions including Harvard University and Oxford University.
See other articles by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh on AZP News: