When it all came tumbling down – Week 4 – LVP

“Am sorry, you had informed me on Friday, but I forgot to tell you that we have exams in the morning”. I appreciated the Principal mentioning this to me on Monday morning. Her chance meeting with one of the core organizers from the corporate team on a local train resulted in the postponement of the morning session to afternoon. The session on Hand washing techniques and Hygiene was conducted by the volunteers later in the afternoon that day. Here’s what the Lifesaver volunteer has to say:

“Got a good feedback from Headmistress saying children are washing hands with soap before lunch and after they come from toilet. It’s really a positive sign… Everyone remembers “No Good” who is villain and no one likes germs. Everyone wants to keep away “No Good”. Almost all of the kids knows when and how to wash the hands with Soap. They got the enrollment card signed from family and friends..” Hope all the kids follow forever and be role model for others in their community…in keeping oneself clean and healthy… IMG_3740

However that could not be the case with the two other schools where sessions had been planned for the first half of the day. Three sessions had been conducted so far with minimum hitches in terms of venue, time and support from the school authorities. But then that Monday morning had something else in store for us!

One of our representatives from iVolunteer reached a school on time and found that the exams were due to start in half an hour’s time. A volunteer group arrived by then and conducted the sessions.

“The session went well and the children responded to the questions. In future we can plan for some activities for the children during the third and fourth session and complete the story telling in the first two sessions” – expressed one of the Life saver volunteers.

The other volunteer group arrived 10 mins before the exam was to start. Hence there was just enough time to distribute the goodies brought for children and collecting up all the collaterals that were kept at the school premises .

The third school asked us to come a week later to conduct the final session. Exams had started and they didn’t want the students to be disturbed during the week. (Though I contacted the Principal on Friday for firming the session timings I didn’t receive the communication about the exams beginning on session date itself. He also conveyed that many companies had been approaching the school which causes a dent in the teaching hours.)

The entire episode reminded me of the trainer’s words in our GYAN training sessions on ‘Project Planning’ – Plans are meant to change and so you can use post-it notes for writing them. When a program runs successfully it is easy to work as everything falls in the right place as planned. However when things move slightly in wrong direction it is an opportunity to learn about alternative planning and not losing focus in times of stress. Hope to carry this learning forward.

GYAN- Crowd funding for non-profits

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.



Volunteer to capture stories of change


Design For Change (DFC) is a global movement that inspires children to be ‘changemakers’.

We at iVolunteer are inspired by this movement and invite you to pitch in too!

Volunteer to shoot and share stories of children overcoming challenges from ‘teaching their parents to read’ and ‘stopping child marriages’ to ‘fixing potholes on the street’.

Till date 2,70,000+ children have participated in the DFC India School Challenge and have submitted over 5000 compelling stories. Read more…

Help showcase these stories so more children and youth feel encouraged and empowered to participate in India’s social development.

Volunteer to:

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Here is an example of the movie you will help create: http://ow.ly/DIfmp

 We look forward to hearing from you!

About Us: iVolunteer is a social enterprise that promotes volunteering. Our Mission is to bring volunteers and organizations together to share Time, Skills and Passion to promote India’s social development. Read more…

Celebrate Pro Bono Week with us

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We invite you to join us in celebrating ProbonoWeek with a Tweet Chat on the ‘Potential of Pro Bono in India’

But first… are you wondering ‘Why Pro Bono?’

Professionals and corporate organisations alike, are increasingly looking for ways to give back meaningfully. Non Profits on the other hand are expressing a need for voluntary skill based and capacity building support. Pro Bono or Skill based volunteering thus is picking up like never before. Volunteers are contributing their skills, helping Non-profits function more efficiently and to maximize the impact of their work.

We recognize that the current scenario is ideal to leverage this ‘volunteer power’ for social change.

Through this tweet chat (conversation on Twitter) we aim to engage with the key ‘Pro Bono’ stakeholders – Volunteers, Non Profits and Corporate Organisations to raise awareness about the impact and potential of skill based volunteering.

We want to hear from you…

Your presence and thoughts would add a great deal of value to this discussion and help mobilize many more to share their time and skills. Do join us!

To participate:

emailer tweetchat

Where: Login to your Twitter

When  : On October 21, 2014 between 3 to 5 pm IST

What   : Tweet using #probonoIndia or follow the conversation @iVolunteerindia

Register here to confirm your participation: http://ow.ly/CEBh2

About us: iVolunteer has been championing volunteering in India with a focus on skill based projects for over 15 years. We are a social enterprise that promotes volunteering, bringing volunteers and organisations together to share Time, Skills and Passion to promote India’s social development.

How volunteering helped me develop new skills!!

I met a friend from College who is an excellent soft skills trainer during Give Back NGO Expo. She is extremely talented and I was trying to convince her to be GYAN trainer, while she was convinced to give the training she kept on repeating that she has immense stage fear and fear of public speaking.

She questioned me then about how I overcame my fear of public speaking and my immediate response was ‘Volunteering helped me overcome it’. I was a happy go silent person who used to keep to herself in most of the situations- From that silent person to a highly noisy and energetic person is what defines my volunteering journey and my days at iVolunteer.

The very first day of volunteering with children made me self aware of my inability of people management, my second volunteering experience with children made me aware of importance of controlling a situation. Subsequent days with children and beneficiary taught me ways to keep them occupied to lessen the noise levels and to delegate responsibilities well. Non profit work culture and staff interaction helped me in widening my problem solving, networking and critical thinking attitude. Various cross functional skills got enhanced due to working in limited resources and time.

Volunteering with senior citizens taught me to be respectful and to not take things for granted. Volunteering with self help group made me a more confident person and somebody who could raise voice for a cause. Orientations to other volunteers has led me to become a more involved person to the surrounding and definitely made me learn how to address people in huge gathering. While I was learning all of the above, I somewhere lost my inhibitions of stage fear and of speaking in huge crowd.

My role has evolved from being a volunteer to a volunteer manager and everything that makes me a successful manager is been learnt through Volunteering. After listening to my experience my friend is convinced to be a GYAN trainer and I hope more and more people will be convinced by her to volunteer!

“It’s a perfect arrangement to not just build capacity of others but self-learn as part of this process”

Greetings for the festive season ! and this month it’s only fair to get a little extra.. So please welcome the very FIRST “Featured Trainer Duo” for the month. Yes not one but two volunteers who shared their expertise on Using Excel for data management & Reporting, to improve the efficiency of 10 NGO’s working in rural areas of Maharashtra. iVolunteer is GLAD and considers itself fortunate to be able to give them the platform of
“GYAN-(Get Your Answers Now) workshops” to bring about this change. So let me introduce you to them and thereafter get on to hear their journey of this change.

Devendra Jani_GSC Pune Curator

Devendra Jani

“Devendra Jani is an MS in IT and Executive MBA from IIMC and currently works as Product Owner with Amdocs India. A few other hats that he dons are that of a Curator of Global Shapers Community Pune Hub, a Quiz Master & a Mentor. ”


Maneesh Ingale

Maneesh is also a post-graduate in Computer Management however with a passion for building capacity he has pursued the profession of a trainer for almost 20 years now. Working with Amdocs for the past two years as a Senior Instructor, he has gained expertise on conducting public & corporate trainings. Outside of work Maneesh can be seen reading, travelling and cooking !

Over to the duo.

What was your perspective to the social sector before volunteering for GYAN and what does volunteering mean to you?

An active contributor and volunteer with many Non Profits, Devendra is not new to this sector “I have been associated with Amdocs India CSR Program, leading various high impact projects in the Education domain for underprivileged children and youth. Before joining Amdocs, I was an active volunteer leader at Infosys and Tech Mahindra Ltd. In my view volunteering is doing our part for the society we live in and contributing towards the change we want to see”

Maneesh always had the urge to contribute to the social sector in every possible ways & means and eventually got his chance at Amdocs. “I have been associated with activities related to social cause and volunteering to me means being selfless and contributing with the best of whatever you are good at & gifted with”

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

I 1960082_10152257382315490_98308919_ncame to know about GYAN through Global Shapers Community and iVolunteer” says Maneesh “What really motivated me to volunteer for GYAN was the fact that I would be sharing my knowledge with participants from NGOs, who were working at the grass-root level in remote parts of Maharashtra, with a motto of social upliftment.

Devendra was approached for this session by one of his friends. “I was motivated by the concept and the objective of this training. There wasn’t any room to put down such a noble request” says Devendra

What difference do you think your skills made to the work of the non-profits? Any take ways for you as a trainer?

“These NGO’s are doing great work on the ground and spend most of their time at the field. Helping them use technology for their daily work, not only makes things faster  but also enables them to present data & showcase their work effectively.” Interestingly Devendra could see the same response from the participants. “They understood that hard work would create impact but smart work will help them grow, sustain and reach many. We feel gratified to have achieved this through GYAN session.”
I too feel my skills will help them to do their work independently and enable them to understand how to capture, organize & store their data” says Maneesh.

How was your experience of taking the GYAN session?

 10151837_10152257390355490_315931696_n“I was unaware of their personal background prior to the session however was delighted to meet them and listen to their amazing work experiences.” says Devendra. ”All the trainees came from rural and remote parts of Maharashtra, where we see limited economic development, farmers committing suicides and hardly any reach of educational institutes. I was more than touched to conduct the session and see the responses we got from all of them”

Maneesh,on t1006074_10152257389690490_1515514473_nhe other hand, was a bit apprehensive before the session “I thought that it might be a bit difficult as I anticipated there could be language problem and was wondering if the participants will be willing to learn. However to my delight I saw that the participants were very eager to learn and seek guidance on how to use technology to work efficiently and make their data more meaningful & presentable. I was surprised to know that one participant was operating the computer hands-on, for the first time in his life!”

Struck with reality, in such close quarters he says “though it was a very satisfying experience, I feel whatever was done, is very little and a lot needs to be done. Many of us need to come forward and contribute to make our world a better place to live. As a trainer I learnt that there are many who are still far away from technology & we need to educate masses and empower them so that they can be confident in calling themselves as citizens of the twentieth century.”
Famous lines by Robert Frost best summarize his feeling post the session,
” I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep “

Would you recommend GYAN to your colleagues If so Why?

YGYAN-slideres definitely” say the duo in chorus! “It’s a great platform to share your knowledge, interact and learn as much if not more from such interactions. It’s a perfect arrangement to not just let others learn but self-learn as part of this process.” 
Maneesh recommends aspiring trainers of GYAN to understand the needs & challenges of participants make them comfortable and involve them in the process of problem solving, Devendra on the other hand suggests to look at the bigger picture and let the training revolve around it.

The journey will be incomplete without sharing what the participants had to say about this experience. We therefore sign off with the same along with A BIG THANK YOU to  both our volunteers

“We have only one computer at our NGO, but this workshop opened my eyes and I come to know the potential benefits of maintaining data and using it in reporting by using the excel” participant Shri. Keshav Ghadge, Gadge nagar, shindi b.k. Achalpur, Amravati1396033_10152257380940490_1934099642_n

“My office bearer’s uses Excel but I never thought that there are so many options in Excel which they have to learn too. Next time I will bring them to this workshop. Really the workshop was so useful for us to maintain data and producing reports out of it”
Participant Shri. Lahu Gaikwad, President, Pavitra Bahuuddeshiy Sevabhavi Sanstha , Dist : Hingoli

T read more on Get Your Answers Now 

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!!


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