Volunteerism: Group celebrates 35 years of peaceful engagement

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JD Lovrenciear looks at how one organisation is bridging racial, religious and social divides in the spirit of volunteerism.

The Service Civil International (SCI) Malaysia chapter celebrated its 35th anniversary in its hallmark fashion of peaceful coexistence.

SCI is a volunteer organisation dedicated to promoting a culture of peace by organising international voluntary projects for people of all ages and backgrounds. Founded in 1921, it promotes peace through community work.

SCI Malaysia is one of 43 branches worldwide. Under the stewardship of Stephen Nah, who has given three decades of his time and energy to the SCI cause, Malaysians of all creeds and cultures have witnessed 35 years of community activities that are characteristic of this non-political, non-religious, international not-for-profit association.

In Malaysia, the colourful history of SCI is filled with countless work camps, environmental engagements to care for the planet, awareness-building and working with disadvantaged segments of multiracial Malaysia – always carried out in the universal SCI spirit of selfless volunteerism.

Its humble, frills-free anniversary celebration at MAKPEN (Majlis Kebajikan dan Pembangunan Masyarakat Kebangsaan Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 1 April, coincided with its annual general meeting. Members and associates gathered for a potluck meal and walked down memory lane, recalling the untiring work they had done in a spirit of ‘muhibah’ for the love of people in need and to promote peace.

This included planting trees, erecting peace poles at strategic venues including institutions of higher learning, holding gotong royong activities and caring for those neglected by society.

Members celebrated the many opportunities to work in the region and elsewhere as they learnt more about the meaning and power of bringing peace to humanity through work.

The untiring power of volunteer work (labour) that cuts across racial, religious and social divides has kept the vision and mission goals of SCI still relevant to this day, all over the world. Young and old, newcomers and veterans of SCI Malaysia, shared meaningful stories about their work during the celebration.

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