Do you spend more hours a week watching mind-numbing TV shows or surfing the net than you have to? Do you wish you spent your time more constructively? Do you feel empathy towards people, animals and/or the environment? Do you want to make a positive contribution to your community? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then you should really consider volunteering.
Volunteering is not only an extremely rewarding personal experience, more importantly it is an invaluable contribution to the community you live in. By dedicating just a few hours a week towards a worthwhile cause, you will have the chance to build on your personal and professional skills, learn more about the world you live in, make new friends and, of course, help improve the problems faced by your community. China faces a number of acute problems: be it the environment, poverty, disease, lack of education, substandard public facilities such as hospitals or orphanages or animal mistreatment, there are plenty of worthy causes to get involved with.
There are hundreds of NGO’s, charities and organizations in Beijing who try to tackle some of the major problems facing China and its people every day. But they can’t improve the world’s most populous nation alone. Many organizations in Beijing look for volunteers throughout the year, most just asking for a few hours of your time per week. Some don’t even require you to leave your home. Below is a list of some of the various organizations in Beijing looking for help. Don’t just think, act!
The biggest problem facing mankind is the deterioration of the environment, and this crisis is especially obvious in Beijing, where dense smog, pollution and related health problems have long become commonplace. One organization playing an active roll in raising awareness of Beijing’s environmental problems is Greening the Beige (GtB). GtB are often looking for passionate environmentalists to join their team, especially those with bilingual (Chinese/English) language skills. They also have a very useful “green” job listings section on their website. Visit www.greeningthebeige.org for more info.
China Dialogue, a bilingual online not-for-profit publication focusing on environmental issues in China, is always looking for volunteer translators from Chinese to English and vice-versa. Volunteers can translate on a flexible basis from home, and the only requirement is that your bilingual language skills are up to scratch. Visit their website www.chinadialogue.net for more details.
Roots and Shoots is a program of the Jane Goodall Institute that focuses on environmental awareness and sustainable development among young people. Every year they launch a number of environmental campaigns, and members can get involved by joining groups in a chosen area of interest. Roots & Shoots is a global initiative, but has an office based in Beijing. They regularly look for volunteers to help out, and also offer internships and occasional jobs. Log on to www.rootsandshoots.org to learn more.
China is a country of extremes: one the one hand, Beijing is home to some of the world’s richest people; on the other hand, some parents can’t even afford to give their children a proper education. At the same time the privileged few are buying designer products, people are dying of disease because they can’t afford the medical treatment.
Compassion for Migrant Children builds community centers in the hearts of migrant areas in Beijing. They offer various social and education programs for the children of migrant workers and are always looking for passionate volunteers to dedicate a few hours a week teaching and playing games with the kids. They have a number of volunteering programs to choose from, such as an After School Program for helping children with homework and taking part in fun activities, Open House Weekends where volunteers participate in activities and Super Saturday Programs where volunteers teach the children English. More details are available on their website www.cmc-china.org.
Prevention Through Education focuses on educating school children about AIDS, and reducing stigma and discrimination directed at people suffering from the disease. Volunteers are central to all their education programs. They offer summer, fall and spring semester internships, as well as yearlong programs for recent graduates, undergraduates and graduate students. Volunteers work in the Beijing office and can choose an area of focus, such as administration, translating, fundraising or web page/graphic design. For more info visit www.pte-china.org.
So what if animals can’t talk to us or think exactly the way we do? They, like all living beings, have just as much right to a good life as us. However, unfortunately not everyone sees it this way. In Beijing, as in many other places, animals are mistreated and abandoned every day. There are a number of organizations and animal shelters operating in Beijing that constantly need volunteers to help out. If you love animals but don’t have the means to actually raise one full-time in Beijing, then helping out at one of the places below may be right for you.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was the first conservation organization to be invited to operate in China. Since 1980, the organization has been involved in dozens of projects, ranging from restoration of the Yantze River wetlands to panda conservation, protecting the Tibetan antelope to monitoring trade in wild animals and plants. WWF welcomes skilled volunteers to help with their mission. Volunteers can generally help with translation work, polishing and editing. More info is available on their website www.wwfchina.org.
Beijing Human and Animal Environmental Education Center is actively involved in protecting animals and placing abandoned ones into loving homes. They also promote animal rights and cultivate a consciousness about love and care for animals. BHAECC are always in need of volunteers with experience handling cats and dogs. Tasks include dog/cat-walking, cleaning feeding, assisting staff on any assignment, promotion work and assisting kennel staff. Find out more at www.animalschina.org.
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