Now... something is not right with the title here... but I do get asked that question sometimes by people who think it is impossible anyone would do anything for strangers without getting paid. Some don't even ask, they assume we volunteers get paid and so it is our duty to carry out whatever it is that we do.
Once a lady called up (got my number from my NGO brochure). She suspected her brother was infected and therefore she needed help to arrange for the brother to get properly tested. So I met up with her at the hospital. At the end of it she thanked me for my help but before I left she asked who was paying for my services. When I told her it was part of my voluntary work, she asked, "Habis tu? Takkan tak ada elaun langsung? Kerajaan tak bagi elaun ke?" When I said no, she looked at me with that amused look. Like, "Biar betul dia ni...!"
Then there was a PLWHA's mother who thought I was actually a hospital staff whose job was to help patients like her daughter... to the extent of running errands! She always told her daughter to call me for every single thing the daughter needed. To her it was part of the job I was paid to do. Thank goodness the daughter had better understanding of what voluntary work was all about so she didn't call me unless she really needed to. One day I was there when the mother was bragging to another lady about this nice hospital staff (that's me!) assigned to take care of her daughter. I took the opportunity to tell her that I wasn't a hospital staff - I was only a volunteer. "Tak dapat gaji?" she asked. She stopped pestering her daughter to call me after she found out I was doing things without getting paid.
Well, I have to admit I'm at the hospital quite often... voluntary clinic duty, meeting up with my PLWHA clients when they have appointments with the doctor (especially those from outstation), visiting the PLWHAs who just delivered babies, visiting PLWHAs who got hospitalised, etc.
But no, I'm not a hospital staff. And neither are most of my fellow volunteers. Only one of the volunteer in my NGO is a nurse. The rest are lawyers, bankers, company executives etc. And the nurse don't get any extra allowance for joining our NGO.
Yes, we do get reimbursed for expenses incurred. My NGO pays for mileage claims when we do outstation house visits or other expenses necessary in carrying out our work. But that's it. No special allowance for clinic duty, no special allowance for outreach work, no special allowance for doing house visits.
Hello people... we're talking about voluntary work here ok? If I needed any extra pay, I'd get myself a part-time job instead....
So, why am I doing this when I don't get anything out of it?
Hey, who says I don't get anything? The self-satisfaction I get and the new things I learn from voluntary work are more precious than all that money can buy. I wish can do this full time, but I can't as I need to earn a living. How am I supposed to help people if I can't even support myself, right?