So on a visit to the villages of India during a rural internship project, lead then MBA students Shalabh Sahai and Rahul Nainwal to start iVolunteer. The Non-Governmental Organisation or NGO-volunteer connection programme started in 2001 and has been organizing the #iVolunteerAwards for volunteers and NGOs for the last three years.
Co-founder Shalabh Sahai says, “We started with the premise that there are a large number of NGOs in Mumbai as well as India and that connectivity to these is difficult for the common person who wants to volunteer. At the time we started, iVolunteer was purely online. The digital revolution in India had just started. Rahul and I were studying in Pune so we started everything from a small hostel room.”
Thanks to the Awards, many Volunteering stories that Inspire by example have been brought to light.
This concept helped Information Technology (IT) professional Niraj Ramjiyani to volunteer with Toybank, an NGO that works with children. He says, “An urge to give back to society, to spread smiles and share happiness inspired me to spend my free time volunteering. Children’s shelters, hospital wards, old age homes and similar places afforded enough opportunities to volunteer. But the work Toybank was doing touched my heart.” He says, “I am really grateful to iVolunteer for helping me to help others. Volunteering is much simpler and one can choose the cause that he or she wants with ease, rather than search for an NGO, oneself which is time consuming and often, a tiresome affair.”
Pravin Tulpule, a retired officer from the Indian Navy is now a professional clown also working for Toybank. He says, “I like to consider myself a professional clown, and magical ‘Edutainer’ who spreads laughter, joy and happiness all around me. My clown persona is ‘Happy Toybanker’ and I visit slums, children’s shelters, anganwadis, orphanages, etc to spread smiles. Clowning helps break barriers and connect easily with children.”
Tulpule also volunteers with SPROUTS, an NGO that spreads awareness about the environment, anti-littering, pollution, water conservation, rainwater harvesting among other things. Between 2012 to 2014 his clown avatar Happy has visited 400 schools in and around Mumbai to conduct the ‘Go Green’ Clown Acts.
He says, “I try to spread messages on serious issues with humour. This works very well for adults and children. Making others happy gives me immense joy and satisfaction and so I volunteer with two NGOs and work with many organisations to help as many people as I can, and make this world a better place.”
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student Kannupriya Sethi also has similar wishes. The Bhumi (an NGO that works with youth, education and environment) volunteer says, “Initially, when you join, you don’t know how things will work out. You join for a purpose. Mine was to impact lives positively in any way I can. So I started with it. The smiles on the faces of kids when I meet and work with them inspires me to give more.” Sethi says, “Under the guidance of Rajashri Sai, one of the Bhumi coordinators, I approached orphanages in Mumbai in July last year, when Bhumi in Mumbai, particularly, was weak and had no significant presence. Centres were identified, and after contacting at least 35 centres, we found a centre where we presently teach Maths and Computers at.” Working from scratch has helped the 19-year-old grow as a person. She says, “I was looking for an education related NGO where I could volunteer. There were big NGOs that were options, but I wanted to work for an organisation which was growing and struggling. The good part about Bhumi is they accept you as their family member, make you feel at ease, and the entire team is amazingly enthusiastic.”
Through iVolunteer, Sandip G Patil is helping 30 NGOs in Mumbai and Thane with his IT skills. He donated an app he created to Sankalp Foundation which works in the field of education. The app helps students earn and learn.
He says, “I also counsel students when it comes to personal issues as well as their careers and conduct confidence building sessions, too. I help NGOs to make new websites and create awareness campaigns for students. I also help with book distribution and free seminars.”
Civil engineer Ratish Ramachandran is a football enthusiast and he has been using his love for the beautiful game to give to others. The 24-year-old says, “I work with Vision Rescue, an NGO that seeks to transform the lives of underprivileged children through sport. I work with kids in Shivaji Nagar slum and take regular football coaching sessions for them. Sport teaches you a lot of life skills such as hard work, leadership, team spirit, the right competitive attitude, taking a loss positively. Most importantly, it keeps one fit and healthy, which is a necessity for underprivileged children who do not have proper access to food.” Play There are two sessions every week — on Wednesday and Saturday at 7 am. The slum has an open ground next to it which is used as a practice ground. Ramachandran says, “Initially, there were 10 kids, this increased to almost 25 kids in a few more sessions as the children really enjoyed football as a sport and were very excited to learn. The process of teaching is better when the students also have an equal passion.”
Explaining how he learnt about iVolunteer, Ramachandran says, “I came to know about iVolunteer through my workplace. I have always believed that giving back to society is very essential. Volunteering gives me peace of mind and satisfaction.”
When Sahai and Nainwal started iVolunteer, many NGOs were unaware of going online and the power of the web, so getting people onboard was tough. “In 2003, we started iVolunteer in Mumbai and at that time there was a big mismatch between volunteers and NGOs. There was a lot of on field work that was done to convince NGOs to seek volunteers online,” says Sahai.
But today, iVolunteer has more than 300 NGOs across India whom they help to get volunteers into. “We also partner with international NGOs and help volunteers go to Asia, Africa and South America to help the less fortunate there. The volunteers and NGOs are not charged, we have various corporate partnerships that fund iVolunteer,” says Sahai.
The Mumbai resident adds, “Many corporate companies look for employees who are socially aware. The exposure that volunteering gives is very positive and helps in business management. We started a white board initiative which is a programme that helps volunteers guide NGO boards and deal with challenges. These comprise senior professionals, homemakers, senior citizens and others. Volunteering opens many avenues for those involved in it.”
iVolunteer and some of its associated causes:
- Poverty Alleviation
- Gender Equality
- Human Rights
- Youth Welfare
- Elderly People Welfare
- Child Welfare
- Active Citizenship
Try Volunteering today! – www.bit.ly/iVolReg
Original Article Source – http://m.mid-day.com/articles/ivolunteer-helping-those-interested-in-serving-society/16578153