Seva Sandwich Campaign – Celebrating DaanUtsav

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!!

Hi-Fi your way to Health and Hygiene !

Bim, Bam, Pow, Hairy Back and Sparkle are just like any other super heroes! They save the world from the bad guys! But that’s not all that they do. They have special powers to help children stay healthy and maintain hygiene. Welcome to School of 5 which consists of these 5 superheroes. Each of the character representing hand washing behaviour on five key occasions such as before breakfast, lunch, dinner; after using the toilet and during bath. Why hand washing ? They are most accessible health prevention tool against diarrheal diseases which claims over a million lives around the globe.

school_of_5

The School of 5 superheroes was created by Yoe Studio with Lifebouy. Their message and stories have travelled more than 20 countries across Asia and Africa and have reached more than 120 million children. Lately their stories are being shared by a team of enthusiastic volunteers from Unilever among school children in Bangalore.

Three schools administered by the state government are experiencing the joy and thrill of the adventures of the School of 5 superheros through stories and comic book reading. A four week session has been planned to bring about the change in the hand washing behaviour of 500 school children. Three sessions have already been conducted at the identified schools.

The first session aimed at introducing the School of 5 characters to the children and explaining to them the relevance of hand washing on the five key occasions. Hand washing diaries or report cards were distributed so that the children’s hand washing behaviour can be monitored regularly for 21 days. Research studies have shown that it takes 21 days for a particular behaviour to transform into a habit. The support of the School Prinicipals/ Teachers was sought in encouraging and monitoring the children’s behaviour.

The second session focussed on assessing the children’s recollection of School of 5 comic characters. Enrollment cards were given to the children so that they can encourage their families/friends/relatives to take to the hand washing behaviour. The Unilever volunteers used the Glow Germ Demonstration to showcase the children that water alone cannot get rid of the germs in the hands and that one needs to wash hands with soap for health and hygiene.

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The third session turned out to be the most interactive of all. Since by then the children had the knowledge of School of 5 characters and the significance of hand washing at their finger tips. One of the Unilever volunteers summarized the experience of the session in the following way:

Today we had very interactive and lively session with our group. We had the glow germ demo…kids loved it and I hope this will have more impact. Most of the kids got the enrollment card filled…and few of them said they will get next week. Yes, they do remember all the characters, occasion to wash hand and 10 steps to wash with soap..and our super villain “No Good”

 These Lifesavers will spread the message of hand washing and its health benefits for another final round of session thereby continuing their effort to keep the “No Good”who hides soap from children and makes them sick at bay ! 

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“Working in an NGO means always being available for beneficiaries”

Moumita is a software professional and has been working in the IT industry as a Project Manager and Business Analyst for the past 15 years. Always having an interest in the social development sector, she finally took the decision of furthering this interest, quit her job last year and decided to work with NGOs.

Since she was fairly new to this sector and wanted to learn and understand the different areas that NGOs work in, before committing herself to a specific role or job, she thought that volunteering with NGOs would help her gain knowledge and gather experience.

She signed up as a volunteer with iVolunteer to get access to different kinds of volunteering opportunities and within a couple of days opportunities started rolling in with varied assignments ranging from teaching, designing, documentation, office-work etc.

The assignment that appealed the most to her was that of making an Annual Report for SHIELD Foundation, an NGO based in Dharavi. This NGO focusses on providing holistic care for the elderly, providing them free medical services and counselling, eradication of malnourishment, job skills training for needy women etc.

She met Swati Ingole, the founder of SHIELD Foundation at their Dharavi centre who explained to her about their work, the beginnings of SHIELD Foundation, their achievements over the years and the challenges they face. Moumita was most impressed with Swati’s own story of how she thought of establishing this organisation and found it really commendable that even with meagre resources available, they have managed to help so many elderly people in the community and have provided training and jobs to needy women.

Moumita was given the task of creating their previous year’s Annual report and give it an interesting layout and content. She listened to Swati’s experiences in conducting the programs, asked her several questions about their work, prepared the content and suitable introductions to present the outcomes of their interventions.

She also brought in an eye-catching template, organised the information into separate topics, added relevant photographs and created a professional looking annual report. In the process she visited their Dharavi centre a few times to talk to the other field-workers about what work they had done in the previous year and gathered stories from them about specific beneficiaries whose life was altered because of SHIELD’s intervention.

She spun these stories into heart-warming case studies, which brought out the real successes of their programs. A bit of research was also done to understand the various Government schemes which were mentioned in their programs which gave her a wealth of information about the ICDS facilities, Anganwaadis, terminologies used in malnutrition assessment, etc.

What she liked the most about this assignment was that while she would visit Swati for their discussions, she would see right in front of her eyes, many women approaching Swati for help who would patiently and expertly handle their concerns and guide them towards a solution in spite of being so busy.

Moumita Deb

Moumita Deb

“I realized that working in an NGO means always being available for the beneficiaries and that there are no strict compartmentalized responsibilities for the staff; one has to be available for all kinds of tasks at all times, as the situation demands” says Moumita. “I developed a warm rapport with Swati over the course of our talks and realised that people from my kind of corporate background could get priceless lessons in selflessness, humility and compassion from these interactions”

Moumita hopes to take back useful learnings about the social development sector and continue to lend her expertise and skills to many more such NGOs. “Thank you, iVolunteer for giving me access to so many meaningful opportunities and for giving me a chance to help such organisations” she says signing off.

A Wonderful Learning Experience

Something about yourself

Well…I am a MBA and Engineer by education and it’s too early to figure out which one dominates. The one thing I strongly believe is that there is so much to learn from every experience and the key is to keep absorbing!!!

Why they decided to volunteer

I have had some volunteering stints before and was always interested in doing more. Volunteering experiences have always been enjoyable and thought-provoking. Of late, I had a bit of time and wanted to contribute and learn from the experience of interacting with a NGO at a strategic level. The opportunity that came up provided all this and much more. The fact that I have healthcare domain experience was also a driving factor in engaging with this particular NGO (Sumukha Foundation).

What was the volunteering project

The stint provided an opportunity to contribute to growth plans of the Sumukha Foundation. Sumukha works in the healthcare space and aims to perform free surgeries for children with conditions such as cleft lip. The idea here was to come out with a marketing strategy that could create a sustainable flow of funds into the NGO and help it positively impact the lives of many young children. We looked at various aspects including service offering details, staging and promotions. We also engaged on the HR strategy in terms of candidate hiring.

What were the challenges

It was a pleasure to meet and discuss with Dr. Sunil, who I think comes with such clarity and vision. Dr. Sunil is a veteran dental surgeon and actively teaches in several institutions. He has a very clear and noble purpose in life that he is trying to achieve via the NGO. The idea is to provide treatment and surgeries for the needy, especially children at very high quality levels.

The discussions we had were very constructive and with the experience and knowledge of Dr. Sunil, it was not difficult to come out with a plan. The project took about a month of engagement where most of the work went into outlining marketing plans for creating visibility for the NGO. The biggest challenge in this space is to communicate the purpose of the NGO and showcase its genuine intent. The other key challenge is staging where the plan needs be broken down into steps and agree on timelines and outcomes.

What has been the output

We came out with a phase-wise approach and the first set of actions have been detailed out. The plan lists an integrated set of items that includes social media campaigns, a dental care service initiative and other promotional activities. Once, this was done, it has now come down to execution, which is the critical aspect. I am confident and sincerely wish that Dr. Sunil and Sumukha foundation are successful in their noble mission.

“The small size of the group is good for interaction”

Ms. Shalini Gambhir, a CSR consultant and an alumnus of Delhi University and Delhi School of Economics volunteered her time and efforts in contributing towards GYAN an acronym for Get Your Answers Now. GYAN is an  initiative of iVolunteer that offers Volunteer led capacity building workshops for the Non Profit sector.

We spoke to Shalini about her eShalini-Gambhirxperience of conducting the session on “How to Pitch To a corporate” for the Non Profits in Bangalore. Her decision to volunteer and the following narration of her experience highlights the spirit of  peer learning within the sector;

Tell us something about yourself?

I am fortunate enough to be a part of both the corporate and social sector through the two caps I don. As the Head Community Services at NGO Bangalore Medical Services Trust, I design and head implementation of community outreach programs for youth, community members and workplace populations related to Life Skills, Gender, Gender Based Violence, Alcohol Abuse, Sexual & Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS. As a CSR Consultant to Weir India I have designed their strategic CSR initiatives using the participatory approach. I also facilitate the implementation of their social responsibility initiatives in India. Straddling both sectors has helped me use my subject matter expertise to share best practices with both the sector.

 What is your take on volunteering in the development sector?

I think volunteering is a great motivational factor which is recognized the world over. It can be used as an effective tool for employee engagement and motivation in the corporate sector. It is an opportunity to do something beyond small charitable deeds such as making a donation in the temple, or, donating old clothes.

How did you know about GYAN & what motivated you to volunteer for the initiative?

10375127_818789621484187_7678976910724285642_nI learnt about GYAN through word of mouth. A friend of mine through my professional network referred me to GYAN. What motivated me to volunteer is that I wanted to find the time to share my knowledge of social sector with others who are working towards developmental goals. I had previously been approached by other NGOs to conduct sessions but couldn’t find the time for the same. So when you contacted me for the GYAN Session, it was a tipping point for me and I knew I had to make time for this.

 What was your overall experience of taking the GYAN session? 

It was a fulfilling experience for me. Apart from sharing what I could share I also learnt from the participants. It enabled me to know what others were doing in the social sector. Ours is not a cut-throat sector where people compete with each other. We all are working towards a similar goal and all our efforts add up in achieving it. Hence learning and sharing with each other becomes vital.

As a working professional in the social sector how do you perceive the GYAN approach to training?

960208_818789198150896_7393425688967411293_nThe small size of the group is good for interaction. The session was a nice mix of different sectors in the non-profit segment and it was better represented than the other sessions that I engage with. There were participants working towards disability, child rights and the like. The arrangement of the session was nice, neither was it too formal or informal which made the entire group feel like a whole. I didn’t feel myself apart from the group.

Would you consider volunteering for a GYAN session again ? Would you recommend other volunteers or NGOs to GYAN? If so why?

Yes, if you would like me to conduct another session, I would consider volunteering again. I would also recommend other volunteers and NGOs to take part in GYAN where they could share knowledge and learn from each other in a small group.

To read more about GYAN visit http://gyan.ivolunteer.in/

The other side of volunteering..

So I have been doing on and off volunteering for a couple of years or is that 2 decades now??  I know it started when I was in school and annually we would visit either an orphanage or an old age home. Religion too contributed significantly – at one point we were visiting a Hostel for girls every 2 weeks to teach and just talk to the kids. The passion grew and I took up psychology and social work professionally. Somehow, I was always always inclined to volunteering with children and I was able to continue doing the same at work – organizing opportunities for beneficiary related volunteering and events through CSR.

Ever since I got to know of iVolunteer’s Impact Projects – an opportunity for volunteers to share their skills with NGOs, thereby strengthening the functioning of the NGO, I wanted to get involved. Last year, I did one-off tasks for various NGOs. These projects made a lot of sense to me and gave me flexibility in my volunteering life….I could volunteer from home  or even while travelling on the bus to get back home by editing documents or making calls on behalf of the NGO. Given the fact that I had a two year old and travelled two hours a day, it made a lot of sense and I felt good that I was able to make a teeny tiny contribution to the NGO sector.

This year, I felt I needed to get more involved and when I read the annual report of the NGO Kili Kili, which works on inclusive play spaces in public parks, it thrilled me and I knew I just had to write and connect with them. I quickly met Kavitha Krishnamurthy, who is part of Kili Kili and Sampoorna Music Therapy centre (which is a hop, skip and jump away from home) and have been volunteering for them for three months now – I try to make it once in two weeks or whenever there is a requirement. So far, have helped them with a back log of reports – since they migrated to a new website, I was able to do some backend help. I have also helped create and maintain a mailing list of volunteers, and support the NGO with timely emails and reminders when there is a requirement/programme.Eventually, I hope to be a rapporteur for a monthly event they organize and partly help with their social media. I will continue to volunteer with them and more such organizations in whatever area they feel I can add value. It also helps me practice what I preach on the ethics of volunteering :)

Though these are small and probably insignificant tasks compared to what the NGO does in totality, it feels good to help out – I have a strong belief it helps the organization take its mind off these small tasks and move ahead… so that they can worry about the bigger things that are required to be put into place…and it gives them space to do what they do best…Serve! 

 

Random act of kindness

Recently I was standing outside a mall waiting for my ride to get home when I noticed this elderly couple who I thought was trying to cross the road. They would walk right in middle of the road which was experiencing a mad traffic rush and would return back to the pavement looking disheartened. The elderly gentleman was trembling and the woman holding on to his shoulder was carrying a grocery bag in the other hand.

I walked up to them and offered help when I realized that they were infact looking for a rickshaw.   If you stay in Mumbai you would know that getting a rickshaw at a peak traffic time for short distance is an arduous task. My next few minutes went in pleading, threatening and arguing with atleast 10 rickshaw drivers when finally one person agreed. God Bless him!! The couple happily bid their goodbyes to me from the rickshaw and I felt a sense of achievement. I had volunteered!

Lot of people I talk to often express the desire to volunteer. They have the willingness to do something but cannot make time to take on formal assignments.  So here is my bit to solve this problem. Each one of us can do random acts of kindness without disturbing our routine. Here is a handy list that can help anyone to do small acts of kindness

  • Give a lift : Its getting more and more difficult to find rickshaw’s and taxi’s these days and you will see so many of them plying with single passengers. You can always offer someone to ride with you and ask them to do the same in future.
  • Offer your seat: If you are blessed with good health offer your seat to someone who really needs it. You will always find tired faces with heavy laptop bags, women with children, elderly people who would need the seat more than you. So go on show some chivalry!
  • Connect people: The simplest act ever! There is always someone or the other in need of getting connected to someone – a future employer, a vendor or even a potential life partner. Don’t hesitate to introduce or connect. You never know how it might help.
  • Treat manual laborers more kindly: Offer water/tea to electricians, plumbers, courier guys who would visit your house. They have demanding schedules and strenuous jobs.
  • School books: Our kids would always have more note books that they will ever fill and then there are those who would write in small handwriting to let the notebooks last longer in schools. These kids are everywhere – in a neighbouring municipal school, creches near construction sites and orphanage’s near your house.  Collect and donate these books to children who really need them.

If  you look around there are so many opportunities to do little acts that can make someone’s day and yours too.

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