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!!
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.
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.