When I hear the word “Volunteer”, several images from famous comics Asterix come to my mind. A small legion of Romans settles near to the village of crazy Gauls. Commander of the legion looks for a volunteer who will go to the village in secret and gain information. He commands that volunteers come out one step forward.  All the legionaries go one step backwards. Except a soldier in the front… This soldier without knowing that his friends went backwards, looks at his commander with empty eyes. The quest becomes this victim’s naturally and he takes off to the village of crazy Gauls…

Years ago, before I go to do my military service, close friends of mine gave a farewell dinner. During dinner, an experienced friend who has done his military service before, gave me an advice: “Be smart! Don’t rush if they look for a volunteer!” In that moment, I remembered the naive Roman soldier in Asterix and laughed so much that they couldn’t understand why.

I can’t stand when someone says “volunteer”! The word “volunteer” has a magic sound for me; being volunteer comes from the heart of a person…During my military service I didn’t listen to my friend and volunteered for a lot of tasks. I can say that these provided me lots of benefit and experience, not giving any harm.

I had the chance to do different duties in ngos so much that I forgot to count. I enjoyed the successful “volunteering jobs” many times. Sometimes I did them so intensely that I encountered with this question: “What is your profit in this?

Profit or benefit… Every job must have its profit, that’s right. Otherwise it will be drudgery and this is against Constitution. Then, isn’t there any profit when you do something voluntarily? Here is the magic of the word  “heart”*. What does ‘heart’ mean? Let’s look at the dictionary*:

   “1) Source of feelings like love, desire, thinkink, remembering which occurs in the heart;

    2)  Carrier of feelings, spiritual actions, inner efforts (extended meaning);

    3) Inner spiritual power that relates the person with God, human and the world;

    4) Ability of feeling loyalty: containment of emotional loyalty and unity;

    5) Heart.”

What other word has so much meaning? Can material values or money in short, replace it? For some yes, for some maybe, for some no…

For me absolutely no!

I confess: My benefit is recorded in the five items above.


*In Turkish “voluntariness” comes from a word that has no equivalent in English, the closest word is “heart”. (translator’s note) * Turkish Language Society, Big Turkish Dictionary