Results of the Happiness Survey

Back in March I crafted a survey to help understand what makes people happy and if technology can help us become happier. Volunteers completed the survey anonymously either online or on paper. There were two groups of respondents: a) middle class, age range of 20-40 y.o., who use technology for social purpose, not particularly religious, mainly employed, b) middle to upper class retired people, i.e. 50 y.o. and above, who are not too fond of technology vs. face-to-face meetings for social purpose, mainly non-religious, but with high priorities on ethics and humanism (representatives from Boston Ethical Society). Thank you to all participants!

The Happiness survey is phase One of The Ultimate Answer project, which is about:

  • ›What makes people happy?
  • ›How open are people to share their ideas about happiness and help each other?
  • ›Are there any “common denominators” of happiness?
  • ›Is it possible to measure happiness and how?
  • ›How can happiness be increased in the world?
  • ›Can technology leverage human potential to increase happiness and how?
  • ›What is the meaning of life and how to find it?

82 people answered the survey: 15 from Boston Ethical Society(BES) and 67 from non-BES.

Here are some highlights:

  • 99% knows what happiness is, but only 72% knows what the meaning of life is. Those 28% who have no clue really need to catch up on Monty Python…
  • People are more likely to give a piece of advice than to receive it.
  • 9 out of 10 said that happiness is not permanent, it changes over time.
  • Answers from BES (more ethical and older) group were different from non-BES respondents.
  • Meaning of life is different from personal happiness.

Please, feel free to check out the results of the survey for yourself Happiness Survey Results

via Results of the Happiness Survey.


June 3, 2011 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year Resolution

I don’t know why I delayed publishing this blog post from 5 months ago, but maybe it was meant to be, here it goes:

I finally formulated my New Year resolution. This year I want to stop worrying and being anxious – I want to Embrace Impermanence. The ambition is quite Buddhist, even though I’m not. Why impermanence? 2010 was an interesting year in my life and I learned a lot from it. Looking back I can see the same trend – constantly worrying about different things, waiting for some changes to come to only find later that there is always something else to worry about. The lack of job or dissatisfaction with existing job, being too idle or too busy, the lack of passion for something or too much passion which is excessive, not enough money or enough money but then not enough time for hobbies. Have you experienced that too? It goes on and on. And finally I realized: it is all temporary,  just like our lives. 

There were several years when I wanted to go to grad school to use my brain more and do something great. I was anxious about this big plan. Then I did it and struggled to support myself through the expensive course of studying. At last I graduated and then I was anxious about finding a job to pay off my school debt. I found the job, but not long after I again was anxious about finding an even better job with event better pay, more challenging and in a better location. I found it, but somehow along the lines I lost my purpose, and was disgusted by making money for already rich guys, while putting others out of work. After suffering though all that, I learned that I should do what I think is right for me, not what others think is good for me.

Then in 2010 I left my job and went to Vietnam, where I was truly happy except for suffering from heat. I was in Saigon for three months volunteering for OLPC . And then I was pondering my next steps. I came back home and again became anxious about finding the job that I like. I went to Central America to connect with non-profits about volunteering, and got kidnapped. There was a moment I thought I might die… and that moment I realized how stupid I was worrying about something all my life, mainly things that are not important. I felt sorry for my parents, who may not accept losing me, and that all this happened in my life because I always trespassed status quo … although robbed I got away unharmed. I returned home and felt so ungrounded and free of all worries for a while…

Right after that I embarked on a journey to start my own website for volunteers, but several developers/designers turned out to be unreliable. My idea of the website failed but after worrying a little I accepted, that it was for the best, because my business model was not that great and later I’d come up with a  better idea, timing would be right and I’d have enough resources to implement it.  Instead I decided to turn my website idea into a blog, and besides SaigonOLPC I created ChebVolunteer to tell people about volunteering.

Then somehow I forgot the feeling of lightness and started worrying about being unemployed and became anti-social. I still worried I would not find the right job and would stay unproductive for the rest of my life.  But I met great people over the summer and started socializing again. There was a moment I wasn’t doing much and felt very idle, just like a plant, but then … olpcMAP opportunity came up and I grabbed it, as I sensed it was exactly what I wanted to do. And then …

I found a much better job than I thought I could possibly find in this economy. I became so productive, that I managed to work in a new field, organize exciting  fundraising events for my writers group, volunteer for OLPC and move to a new place at the same time. 

I’m not anxious or worrying anymore. I realized, that worrying and anxiousness is meaningless. It only takes time and energy from our lives and brings negativity. All is temporary, we all in our lives go through waves and circles (like in Hinduism), which repeat, come and go, move us up and down and we should not be obsessed about controlling them. We just need to be prepared for the next phase while accepting what life gives us at present and trying to make positive changes. There always be idle and negative moments, but they are all temporary.

I also realized that when we don’t worry, but stay open to right opportunities and follow our heart, we make right decisions. I went to Vietnam instead of working in Boston last winter and it made me happy. I went to SF OLPC Summit instead of an annual social party in Boston, and that helped me find what I love to do. It gave me answers to many questions I had before. Do I even have a talent? How can I help others who are in need? How can I be useful and improve the world?

We all have moments when others expect us to do something, but we know it is not right. Follow your heart so that you don’t blame yourself for the rest of your life for not doing what you really had to do… Find courage to do what is right and even if  you fall after that, there will be an even bigger rising. Find similar minded people and continue doing what you are destined to do. Eric Johannson said it better in his Photo Collage Work.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Survey About Volunteering

Dear all!

Whether you are a current volunteer or not, whether you have ever tried to volunteer or not, I really appreciate your feedback.

I’ve been researching the topic of volunteering for more than a year. And it still seems that some people know more about volunteering than others. Some people try to volunteer and continue doing it, other stop because they either burn out or don’t like it. And there are those who’ve never done it  but some of them could potentially try it if given an opportunity to participate in an interesting project. What many people still don’t know is that there are many great purposes volunteering serves for everyone involved, especially volunteers.

Please give your feedback as I’m trying to understand what motivates people to volunteer and why some people are interested in volunteering and others are not. It is only 10 questions and totally anonymous! Please, take this Survey.


1. Are you currently volunteering with any organization and why?

2. Whould you like to volunteer in your or foreign country (which ones)?

3. How much time do you have for volunteering (number of hours/days per week/year)?

4. What type of volunteer work are you most interested in?

5. What kind of recognition/incentive do you deserve for volunteering?

6. What do you want to know about others and others to know about you?

7. If the world were a game/contest, what would it be?

8. Would you want to participate in community events/workshops/summits?

9. Do you need help deciding whether volunteering  is right for you and where exactly your help is needed?

10. Any other comments and suggestions?

December 17, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fraud in Volunteer World

I received a comment from to one of my posts and would like to share it with you. Remember, that everyone would want to take your money and help you volunteer abroad, but be warned that some of the organizations are either fraud or simply bad for everyone involved. Always do research beforehand and check feedback from former volunteers:

“If you are interested in visiting Africa on a Volunteer program, for heaven’s sake do not go any where near “Dr” Peter Mc Hendry or Global Adventures, Christian ski or any other companies run by “Dr” Peter McHendry – have a look at what he did to this poor chap!

Peter McHendry is a fraudster who has been deported from Zambia for breeching labour laws (not paying his poor village staff) and failing to register any sort of business interest in Zambia, he does not legally own any land there, only the President of Zambia can grant a lease in Zambia, most of his deceptions are based on owning things he quite clearly cannot and does not!

The Police in South Africa are looking for McHendry in regards to Insurance Fraud and conning investors into his failed Global Bio Diesel and Akula Trading 227 PTY Companies.

This man is very dangerous and is believed to have several personality disorders, such as Jerusalem syndrome, his wife and other girls have complained of violent behaviour and at nearly 60 “Dr” Peter McHendry has an unhealthy interest in young vulnerable women and strippers as the Lonely Planet article shows.

The Lonely Planet confirms that “Dr” Peter McHendry had not paid his staff for at least two months when the volunteers’ had paid over $2500 US each to live in a tent with no food!


He steals from poor African Villagers and may have molested several village children which is why a deportation order was issued by the Zambian government and why the South African Police are looking for him!

Do not give him any money it will not go on any sort of good, it will all be spent on young girls that “Dr” McHendry has no chance of sleeping with, you can see lots of them on his website which makes many, many, false claims all of which are badly spelt!

South African Police are looking for investors into a franchise scam run by Dr Peter McHendry in 2008 under the name “Global Bio Diesel” A company which does not exist!

Here is a list of investors who should contact COMMISSIONER KWEYAMA ON +2782556758 at Pinetown Police Station or Commercial Branch in Durban

DJW / Nelson Mbatha Invested R4,000,000.00 on 30/05/2008
Kitesh Cara Invested R160,000.00 on 04/06/2008
Mr Kwazi N Sithole Invested R800,000.00 on 19/09/2008

These funds were paid into Akula Trading 227 PTY and then spent on McHendrys mortgage arrears, court cases in respect of unpaid debts, which are still owed as Peter McHendry has lost every case against him, details below.,_Volume_511_(Part_2_of_2),_141/,_Volume_506,_B,_128/

Reposted from

December 12, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tufts Health Plan and Volunteer Work

Three weeks ago I started working for Tufts Health Plan (THP), and on the first day during orientation I learned about volunteer opportunities available for employees, which impressed me tremendously! Here is what I found:

1. Full-time employees are offered 8 paid hours to volunteer wherever they would like to contribute. Employees have a chance to leave work and volunteer their time to any organization they choose.

2. There are numerous volunteer opportunities listed on the THP website. There are about 20 organizations listed, among them are:

Boston Health Care for the homeless Program – Volunteers play a critical role at BHCHP. They help out in countless ways, like offering recreational activities at the in-patient respite care facility, working behind the scenes in our administrative departments, engaging patients in caring conversations, organizing fundraising events and helping out in the clinics.

Springwell House – Volunteer to spend time with elders by becoming a friend, being a medical escort or teaching elders about health insurance options and how to manage money.

3. That is what homepage for volunteering says:

Volunteering Is Not for Anyone; It’s for Everyone!
Volunteering gets good people and good causes together to make a difference in the community. Volunteering is the perfect vehicle to discover something you are really good at and develop a new skill. Take some time out of your year to give back to your community, make new friends and network, feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, and most importantly, give back to someone in need. Part of being a great volunteer is loving what you’re doing. Find something that you’re passionate about or something that inspires you, and then find a need in your community.

4. There are numerous Onsite Philanthrophy Activities.  Each year, THP organizes several opportunities for employee philanthropy, often to benefit local service agencies. Examples: Holiday wish Tree, Blood Drives, Food Drives, Workplace giving Back to Schools Drive and others. Right now employees can donate gifts for the holiday season to Cambridge Salvation Army and Department of Mental Retardation-Fernald Center.

5. Very compelling line Think You Don’t Have Time to Volunteer? You Do!
Busy schedules and hectic lives seem to be the norm these days. But, thanks to THP, take a deep breath, step back from your desk and use a paid day off to volunteer. THP has worked with a number of agencies in the area. In addition, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley Web site provides an easy-to-use, online database of current volunteer opportunities that can be searched using a number of variables, including location and type of agency (children, elders, etc.).

I decided to suggest Strategic Volunteering Workshop for our employees.

I’m so proud to be working at Tufts Health Plan, and I mean it! In my opinion, encouraging employees to volunteer and giving them opportunities for it  is very important for employee’s own health and happiness !

December 6, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Volunteer to write a book!

I joined Writers Anonymous meetup group about two years ago, and I did it because I like to write and I was looking for similar-minded people to share my interest with. I was so lucky to join one of the most exciting groups I’ve ever been a member of! Besides reading each other’s work, we have been encouraging each other to write and discuss our experiences. Our latest project is Seven Word Memoir Book, which we will be self-publishing very soon. No matter if  I felt sad or happy, I would always come to our meetings on Tuesdays in Beacon Hill and have a chat with people, who bring joy into my life. You have an opportunity to meet these great people. See our formal Invitation to the event on Tuesday, Dec 7 at 7Pm at Beacon Hill Pub:

Dear Friends,

Writers Anonymous Boston is finally breaking out from the underground! It’s been a year since we started our Seven-Word Memoir Book project, a creative process of collecting our life experiences, profound and witty insights captured in seven words.

We are hosting a Seven-Word Memoir Party and Fundraiser to support and promote the publication of our first book, Writers Anonymous Boston: Seven at The Sevens. Hemingway said, “All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened.” While writing seven-word memoirs, we let our imaginations get the best of us.

Come get a sneak peek at the book and take a shot at writing your own seven-word memoir to be included in the book! Win great prizes in our raffle and show off your trivia prowess during our literature quiz. Hang out with a group of people who share a passion for writing.

Tickets/suggested donation is $10-$20. Snacks will be provided. Space is limited so please reserve early. To buy tickets, visit:

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to support your local writers!

More info about Writers Anonymous: and

Tentative Event Schedule:

 7:00PM – Reception and Social Hour with hors d’oeuvres

 7:00PM – Silent Auction starts

 8:00PM – Introduction to Writers Anonymous Boston and Seven Word Memoir book project

 8:15PM – Guest Seven Word Memoir submission starts

 8:45PM – Guest Seven Word Memoir submission ends

 8:45PM – Literature Quiz and prizes

 9:00PM – Seven word memoir contest rating starts

 9:45PM – Seven word memoir contest rating ends

 9:45PM – Raffle based on ticket numbers

10:00PM – Silent Auction closes and Winners are announced

10:15PM – Winners of Seven Word Memoir contest announced

10:30PM – Happy drinking!

Writers Anonymous

December 5, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Burma Volunteer Project

The Burma Volunteer Program (BVP), a project under Thabyay Education Network, was set up in Thailand in January 2001 to bridge the gap between pro-democratic Burmese organizations looking for assistance and volunteers wishing to donate time and skills toward the creation of a democratic and just Burma.

Volunteers work closely with Burmese organizations (political groups, ethnic groups and women’s groups) working for political and social development in Burma. 

BVP volunteers work with groups located in Thailand in areas near the Thai-Burma border. Volunteers are primarily involved with English communications training programs and skills workshops.  Apart from English teaching, volunteers can also assist host organizations with fundraising and organizational development, human rights documentation, and special skills training such as multimedia
communications and journalism, depending on specific organizational requests.  BVP staff makes an effort to ensure that volunteer placements correspond to volunteers’ prior work experience and the need of the organizations.

BVP does not charge a program fee, and prides itself on the fact that many volunteers have leveraged their volunteer experience to gain full-time employment with both international NGOs and host organizations at the border. Positions are non-remunerated, however, accommodation, 2-3 meals per day, as well as local transport (where applicable) are provided throughout the placement. Volunteers are responsible for their own airfare, health insurance, and incurred travel expenses. Volunteers are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Candidates should be native English speakers, or fluent English speakers. Experience with human rights or international politics is a plus. To learn more about the project visit, to participate contact

November 13, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CASA Volunteer Project

CASA volunteers are everyday citizens, judges appoint to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who have been removed from their homes due to parental abuse and neglect. They stand up for these children and change their lives.

History: In 1977, a Seattle juvenile court judge concerned about making drastic decisions with insufficient information conceived the idea of citizen volunteers speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom. From that first program has grown a network of more than 1,000 CASA and guardian ad litem program offices that are recruiting, training and supporting volunteers in 49 states. Read more about the history of the CASA movement

Last year, more than 70,900 CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers helped 237,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes. Each year, more than 700,000 children experience foster care in this country. Because there are not enough CASA volunteers to represent all of the children in care, judges typically assign CASA volunteers to their most difficult cases.

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.

CASA volunteers make a difference in the lives of foster children, one child at a time, by ensuring they receive the support and help they deserve.

Are you looking for ways to get involved with CASA? Whether you have lots of time or little time to contribute, whether you want to work directly with a child in need or would rather help with social events, there is a volunteer opportunity that is the right fit for you.

Find out more about how to participate in CASA Boston,  New York City, LA or find another city

November 11, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mapping Party at MIT

Ben and I were lucky to attend the Map party on Sunday at MIT. We had no idea what it was going to be like, but were instructed by Adam H to show up and learn more about mapping and demonstrate our MAP activity on XO and

The event surprised me because I realized that 1) google maps are not perfect, 2) people do ALL kinds of volunteer work, even map creation! This project appeals to people who like technology, maps and making positive impact in the community.

Open Street Map (OSM) is the largest open source mapping project in the world that was launched in 2008 in UK. It’s been growing rapidly thanks to volunteers.

So what OSM participants do? They get their GPS with them every time they go on a hike, bike ride, etc. and when they come home – upload their route to the website and edit the map. They correct or add what they saw – new buildings, hiking trails, bike lanes and more. 

The event started with presentations, then one team went outside to collect track/data with GPS units and another team used imagery to update features locally. I didn’t go outside but stayed in and added new bike lane (Somerville Ave) to the map. Ben braved the cold and gathered info on footpath in the Front Park at MIT.

Later we all uploaded GPS traces either from walking maps (you can scan and upload), I-phones or other GPS devices(Garmin60). There are various free mobile apps for iPhone/iPad (trackrec, Motion X GPS Lite, BTD mapper), on the Android platform My Tracks and Ridetrac are also free GPS tracking apps  for that.

We uploaded GPX format files into either OSM or JOSM and used feature “edit and save” for upload later. There were some editing conflicts, as several people worked on similar edits, but at the end conflicts was resolved and the map was improved.

For more information please visit and

If you are interested in participating, please contact Lisa at, David at or Lars at

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet Cheb and Advocates

Cheb, N/A,

Privet, I don’t know where exactly I’m from, but it is a tropical country with lush vegetation.

One day I squirmed into a box of oranges, only to be mistakenly shipped to Russia, and brought to a toy store.  I was so different from everyone else that no one was interested in me; I was neglected, living in a cage and very lonely. One day an alligator named Gene came to the store, saw me, and adopted me. We became best friends.

Being helped by Gene inspired me to give back to the community and do something good for others. Today I volunteer and promote the Olympic games in Russia, and you can see my picture on many billboards. I feel so happy and proud that I can be useful.  Many people in Russia are enthusiastic about the Olympiad because of my efforts to promote it.  Long Live Volunteerism!

Mathieu, 25

I am from Aix en Provence, France. Growing up, I was into music and I turned my passion into my profession.  I am a former actor, and today I’m a musician, sound engineer and sound designer.
Because of years of studying and working, I did not take time to travel, but this year I decided to take time off work and travel to Vietnam to volunteer and just explore a new country.
I was up for a big surprise! I was teaching English to children from low-income families in a day shelter. We played games, and I even had an opportunity to teach them how to play music on the OLPC computers! I had great time, made friends, and tried myself as a teacher, which was very fulfilling. I cannot wait to go and volunteer again!

Carrie, 37

Guten tag. I was born in Eastern Germany. Growing up there I didn’t feel free to do things I wanted to do and travel where I wanted to travel. After years of waiting for permission to move, my parents and I relocated to Western Germany where I was introduced to a different world. Since then I traveled a lot, and my favorite country is India. More than traveling I like to volunteer and help children who do no have the means and opportunities like I had in life. In India I worked with street kids, who have nothing but their thirst for life and hopes to survive. I went to University and finished my studies in social work. I like to be exposed to different cultures and people. I am a vagabond at heart. My next place to volunteer will be somewhere in South America!

Kris, 56

Hello! I live in Spokane, Washington. I have a daughter and a husband. I have been a teacher for many years, and now I’m retired and have more free time. I’m actively involved in several organizations as a volunteer to help refugees get settled in the States by tutoring them.  Every year I sponsor several students to get a high school and university education in Albania, Vietnam and Bangladesh. We write letters to each other, and it warms my heart to see them graduate and achieve new heights of success in their lives. I have many interests like sewing, baking and traveling abroad or locally. You can always find volunteering/coaching opportunities where you live because those opportunities are everywhere.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Volunteering | , , , , , | Leave a comment