It has been more than 10 years now since I was introduced to AID India. It all began at a walk on the shore between Callengute and Baga beach at Goa. I couldn’t believe that the walk would be a life changing one!.It was during 2004 I along with the students of mine from IIT Delhi were on an industrial visit to Goa. On that evening me along with my students who were also my close friends, started to walk from Callengute to Baga. The casual talk about the philanthropic activities lead to my students inquiring about my interest in social work and shared them the details of some initiatives I took as an individual. They then suggested me to try volunteering with AID. That’s where I got introduced to AID India.
I used to volunteer with an organization during my college days in the late 90’s where I had a pretty bad experience during those days and that’s when I decided that I shall not associate with any organization from then on. That was also a reason why I decided to visit the Tsunami relief work on my own for 10 days during 2004.
However, my students suggested me to just visit the group and understand their idealogy and told me that I can volunteer only if I get convinced by the group and their action. I started to attend the fortnightly community service hours meeting. After knowing AID and listening to its stories about the inspiring people who participated, I decided to just meet and interact with the volunteers regularly and thoroughly learn about the organization and its work.
I attended a CSH [Community Service Hour] at Meera aunty’s,[a professor in AIIMS] house at AIIMS and there I got to know more about AID as an organization and the way they function with the help of volunteers.
At my very first meet I heard Mr. Srinivasan, sharing his experience at the Tsunami relief work at Chennai. He was an AID US volunteer who was at Delhi.
Intially, the new volunteers who joined AID Delhi were requested to visit Parichay, an organization working for community development in Bhajanpura of North east Delhi. As AID did not have its own projects by then, AID partnered with local organizations who share similar philosophy and way of working. Parichay was my next volunteering destination.
At Parichay, I happened to interact with children and was asked to teach children of 3-6 years. I was trying to teach them English. When I was teaching them the English alphabets, a child very curiously asked me “bhaiya yeh A kyun hai?”. [why is this called A?]. I actually had no answer to that and I realized that teaching smaller children was something which is tough and is not my area of expertise.
Thanks to Anirban and Somen (both were senior volunteers at AID) who were with me answering all my queries and solving all my problems in understanding the organization. After 6 odd months I got to know AID completely as an organization and almost after a year I got a chance to attend the conference at Chennai where I got to meet a lot of people who were participating and leading several struggles [Sangharsh] across the country and understood that Sewa and Nirmaan would not be possible without Sangharsh.. Till then I seriously had a question on the protest, activism and always have criticized on the same.
Not only on the views, AID has also helped in taking critical decisions in my life as well. It actually taught me the process of an alternate way of living and seeing / solving problems with a different note. I would say that AID got a third eye / vision into my life. I also made a lot of friends at AID who’ve been very valuable and have played crucial part in my life. I slowly started to integrate my life into AID by understanding and experiencing its concept. It has been a pleasant journey from there on. AID believed in sensitizing people on the concept of Sewa, Sangarsh and Nirman. While sewa fulfilled the need for one to volunteer, they also believed and made me believe that Sangarsh is important whenever the beneficiaries are denied their right and nirmaan is equally important to have a socially developed nation.
Though there are lot of distractions for young people at the age between 16 & 30, a place like AID provides an opportunity to be a better human being..
One thing I understood even before starting to volunteer and also learnt fro m AID is that we volunteer with a sense of responsibility and not just for the sake of feel good factor
If you volunteer majorly to ‘feel good’ then you will not be able to see the bigger picture of what change is.
Change your perspective to see the good volunteering can do instead of only trying to feel good Be the change yourself!…. you along with a many others can make this a better world This is something which I learned after I began volunteering… starting to volunteer.