Students taking part in Al Sadi Changing Lives programme

There are countless reasons that people get involved in work related to volunteering. For Tanim, it was an earlier trip to Bangladesh, when he witnessed the horror of real poverty for the first time. It was from then that he knew he wanted to help to make a positive difference in the lives of others and volunteering would be part of his future. Therefore, when the opportunity to take part in the Al Sadi Changing Lives programme came about in September 2016, Sheikh jumped at the chance.

Organised by the University of Westminster in partnership with the Al Sadi Changing Lives programme, Tanim travelled to Amman in Jordan to help complete work for refugees in the country. The work involved refurbishing and decorating a school and providing support to refugee children as well as others experiencing difficulties due to their personal situations.

“The experience gave me an indication of why it's so important to understand different people's situations. From poverty to those that are suffering inside, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. It's important to understand that volunteering is not a necessity but something you pursue because you genuinely want to make a change without the intention of making a personal gain from it. It should be for the good of the people,” says Tanim.

Tanim was struck by how his volunteering efforts allowed him to gain a deeper insight into different cultures and societies and strongly feels that every student should have the opportunity to volunteer at least once during their time at University. 

“It highlights the importance of togetherness, and unity. University has the apparent feel of ‘me, myself and I’, whereby you are constantly thinking about your grades and how you'll pass and what you'll get and where you'll work. Giving up some of your free time to help someone else in need is refreshing at the very least, but also mentally rewarding for both the volunteers and those that are being helped,” says Tanim. 

For Tanim, volunteering gave him bigger lessons that now guide how he lives his life.

Tanim said: “The world needs acts of selflessness and kindness. You'll have all the time to work and make money as you progress through life, but it's about lending a hand to others that are in difficult positions.” 

Journey highlight:  “My trip to Jordan and how these things are organised too. Helping and listening to the dreams and ambitions of the refugee kids was by far, the highlight for me. The strong belief and determination of these kids is admirable, and it had taught a lot of us not to take the things we have for granted.”

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