I recently conducted a GYAN session on crowd funding for non-profits in Dehradoon where I shared my experiences of raising money through crowd funding for a range of projects. These projects included raising money for a school to raising money for rehabilitation work in Uttarakhand. I shared how one can create a projects on crowd funding websites and how one can then go about raising awareness about the same.
As I sat there answering questions about crowd funding I realised that most of the questions were around communication and not so much about raising money on the internet. I feel NGOs do a fairly good job of raising money and very soon they will figure out how to do it through the internet. My worry is that even after so much capacity building in the field of communications NGOs seems to have very little idea of what to communicate and how to communicate. On top of it the array of tools available also confuses them. Half of the questions that were asked to me were about what is a blog and how to open a blog and what are the benefits of having a blog. And then there is facebook. NGOs are still unsure about how to create a facebook page and whether they need facebook or not.
The other problem is that no one wants to write. Everyone wants to find someone else to do their job. Unless people who work in NGOs start writing themselves and share what is happening in their work the problem of communicating with the wider world is not going to be over in the near future.
I guess the need is to do more and more communications workshops with small NGOs and get their staff and founders used to the idea of writing and sharing. The world has changed tremendously in the last few years and days of sending printed stuff are over. All of us have to create and share and over the internet. That is the only way forward.
While returning from the event, we saw this kid running after us, so we stopped and asked him “What happened? He said “Thank you and would you like to share my cake?“- Mahek Siddhartha [Kolkata Volunteer], Siliguri.
Read how Mahek and team of volunteers planned and executed “Seva Sandwich Campaign” so well.
One fine day while accessing Facebook I came across a post asking people to volunteer for a social cause, distribute sandwiches and bring smiles on the faces of people in need.
Bang On!! “We (I + Siddhartha)” have always been into social service and love distributing food to kids and people on the road or anywhere possible. So this was something we would love to do. Finally I went to iVolunteer Facebook Page and messaged them asking to lend a hand for this social cause. We sorted out a few things and decided to lead this campaign from Siliguri, West Bengal India. There were no other group or people from NGO to join us. So we decided to do it all by ourselves. Since we are new to the city we dint know a lot of people than Siddhartha’s office Colleagues. We could not decide when and where to start from, we didn’t lose hope. Later when I spoke to Tanveer (From iVolunteer), he helped us with the campaign details, goals, and all other basic details that we need to keep in mind while leading this event.
We froze 21st September 2014, for our campaign day!! Day Well Spent for a Social Cause
“A well-spent day brings happy sleep” – Leonardo da Vinci
Oh my, I completely agree with this quote, it already describes half of our day today. With so many hurdles and problems, we dint stop but came out shining by seeing these lovely smiles
Some preparations started in the morning!!
Later in the afternoon around 3 pm, we (Siddhartha & Me) and some of Siddhartha team members (5) gathered to start making sandwiches at our home. Some were busy peeling a cucumber, some applying mayonnaise to bread, some cutting tomatoes; everyone was busy with some work or the other
Finally we made 60 Sandwiches and got cakes from market for these kids!!
After a lot of research a colleague of Siddhartha (Sankha Sen) found out a Day Dropping Centre providing food and imparting knowledge to kids lost on station. Another was Shelter Home where kids resided, got training and knowledge. At both these places kids were the ones who lost their parents in any accident or who gets separated from their family while travelling to a new place.
Everything was ready by 4 pm and we decided to head towards these shelter homes. On our way we met other colleagues who wanted to join in and go with us to Shelter home and spend time with these kids
Now, we were 14 of us visiting shelter home!! All of us were so excited and happy to meet these kids
We reached the first place which was near NJP Station; people who take care had cleaned the place and told the kids that we coming with food. On a daily basis these kids were given one hour class about their welfare and some studies. Some of them knew ABCs and greeting people who come to meet them. Since these kids live on the station or nearby streets, they were not as others. The reason they came to visit this Day-Care, each day was because of television and food provided. These kids were very sweet. The moment we entered they were so happy and everyone started shouting “Good Morning, Good evening, so many hello“ They all got so excited when they saw us; they wanted to know what we brought in those packets for them.
We first distributed our sandwiches and cakes, and then spent time with these kids. We sang songs, danced and made these kids share a thought about them. We got so emotional and touched by what we saw, so much pain but a lasting smile!! It really inspired me and others!!
Finally we had to bid Bye to these kids as we had our other kids waiting at Shelter Home!! The moment we said Bye and stepped out, few kids came running after us, some saying thank you and other said “ Abar asbe” – that’s Bengali which means please come again. While returning we saw this kid running after us, so we stopped and asked him “What Happened?” He said – Thank You and would you like to share my cake?
Next, we were going to the Shelter Home which was around 3kms from here. It took around 15 minutes for us to reach. We rushed to Shelter Home. This was a better place and much cleaner than the other one. All the kids had gathered in a big hall and were waiting for us to arrive. The moment we stepped in the hall everyone wished us “Good Evening”. These kids were silent till we started interacting. Kids at this Shelter home were given proper training and made to study and keep them neat and clean. When we started talking, some wanted to say a poem, someone wanted to sing a song, and some danced. We really enjoyed our time with them. Everyone of us got emotional the moment a kid stood up to sing and said “ 1,2,3 start – “Saat Samundar paar se, gudiyon ke bazaar se, Chotti si ek gudiyan lana, Gudiyan Chahey mat lana, Pappa jaldi aa jana..!!” I really wanted to capture this song being sung and click many more pictures, but we were not allowed to due to certain restrictions.
I am short on words when I describe the emotions and hope every child had in their eyes. Simple yet such lovely group of kids who smiled and smiled and smiled. There were two kids who were not mentally fit, some could not talk, but everyone there enjoyed the time we spent together. The kids asked us to come again!!
It was indeed a great day and a lovely evening that really touched our hearts. We are lucky that we have a family, a place to live in and a loaf of bread to eat when we are hungry; but there are so many people on roads, different places who live without anyone, they survive on water.
Thanks to iVolunteer for giving us an opportunity to carry on this campaign and give our time towards such a great social cause. Every Kid is special, it needs effort and love to go ahead and create a small difference. These small things will become big if each one of us come together and join hands. I would ask all my friends and family to step forward and start today. It will bring happiness and peace to your soul too!!
Our Team of Volunteers
- Siddhartha Rupramka & Mahek Rupramka
- Sankha Sen
- S Kartik
- Saikat Chatterjee
- Saikat Sharma
- Swarup Dey
- Subhankar Rakshit
- Sanjeev Chauhan
- Jhimly Dey
- Lopa Das
- Abhijit Chattoraj
- Pritam Sinha
- Dipankar Sarkar
- Abhisek Ghosh
- Saptarshi Bhattacharjee
Let’s create Happiness!! Smiles!!