Article by Zuzana Brianza
December fifth will mark the International Volunteers Day. The United Nations Assembly mandated that day in 1985 to encourage volunteering at the local, national and international level and recognize the invaluable contributions of volunteers around the world.
This year more than any other highlighted the power of volunteering when communities all over the world united to fight COVID-19. Calls for volunteers in the lockdown were met with an overwhelming response.
“When people volunteer they connect with others and foster a sense of purpose.” Antonio Guttieres, United Nations Secretary-General
For many people, sitting at home in the face of the pandemic was not an option. They joined the thousands of volunteers who supplied food to the most vulnerable or helped out in hospitals. Others managed to provide much-needed support while sitting at home, proving that goodwill can manifest in different ways and you can in fact do a lot of good while sitting at home, through online volunteering.
Online volunteering has removed physical borders and allowed organizations in the most remote regions of the world to gain access to skills. It also created truly global virtual communities.
People from all walks of life, living in different time zones can connect and work for the same goal, generating little or no carbon footprint in the process.
The men and women volunteering for the Lockdown Economy initiative are a perfect example of such cooperation.
Gradually growing in size, we are currently 61 people with varied backgrounds and based in 24 different countries, joined together to help small businesses and self-employed professionals to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.
About a fifth of the group are students who are hoping to develop new life skills and work practice to complement their studies while contributing to a positive cause. Some have previous work experience others are just “dipping their feet” in their first volunteering opportunity. This is the case for Daniele Alexander Busato who’s currently studying Bachelor of Science degree in International Government and volunteers as a transcriber.
Our Local Interview Host in the Netherlands, Rosie Allison, is studying a Masters in Media and the Creative Industries. Through volunteering, she can share her knowledge and at the same time get hands-on work experience.
Others like Ryan Mitchell, an Urban planning graduate student from Canada, or Julian Infante, who is completing a Masters Degree in Paris, already had work or volunteering experience in different parts of the world.
Rony Alonzo is studying a degree in tourism in his native Mexico and, by volunteering for Lockdown Economy, he would like to help local entrepreneurs in Yucatan.
Holly Aboh, the Local Interview Host in Nigeria, is studying Actuarial Science. Holly is also a poet.
There are also many entrepreneurs volunteering for the Lockdown Economy initiative. Most of them have been affected by the lockdown themselves and would like to help other small business owners by participating in this initiative.
Maja Javier Rojas is one of them. Originally from Peru, Maja moved to Spain to start a business in sustainable fashion and to study digital marketing. Her knowledge of digital marketing tools helped her business adapt during the lockdown. She is a Local Interview Host in Barcelona and is very eager to help “create collaborative ecosystems around the world”
Collaboration is also very important to Jane Bertch, an American who set up a cooking school in Paris. She too had to readjust her business model during the pandemic. Participating in the Lockdown Economy helps her expand her ideas and strategies but also her capacity to help other entrepreneurs who also face difficult circumstances.
Arshia Bhatnagar is a co-founder of an initiative that empowers rural Indian women. As a Local Interview Host in India, she will use her knowledge to provide a much-needed platform to local small-business owners.
“Volunteerism is a global phenomenon
that transcends boundaries, religions
and cultural divides.” Ban Ki Mon
The Lockdown Economy also benefits from the experience of many more entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals, who volunteer their time and knowledge to help others through this initiative. You can read about all the wonderful people and their backgrounds here.
We have an attorney, researchers, journalist, aspiring chemical engineer, digital marketing managers and an anthropologist. We also have a number of teachers.
Arwin Medrano is a teacher from the Philippines and is currently studying Master of Arts in Education and Karlina Lubis is a University teacher from Indonesia. Leviana Vinanda, also from Indonesia, is an English language educator. She is studying a postgraduate program in English language teaching and at the same time, she is an entrepreneur, a co-founder of several non-profit foundations as well as a small business in wood crafting. Her motivation for participating in the Lockdown Economy is to give a voice to small business owners. Leviana is also as a full-time mother.
There are in fact several full-time mothers. Most had to juggle full-time jobs and full-time childcare. Some, like me, had to put their career on hold in the lockdown to look after their young families. Online volunteering gives me, and I’m sure many others, a purpose and connection in these uncertain times.
No matter what our background, profession or nationality, the Lockdown Economy initiative is what unites us. We have also all been affected by the pandemic. Either directly as business owners but also as a community. We all have our favourite café and shops and businesses, which serve our community. And we have been saddened by the loss of many of these businesses during the pandemic. Small businesses are an important part of our communities and no matter what small or big role we play in this initiative, we are all here to keep them going!