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

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!!

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.

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