My first stint at family volunteering

My First Stint at family volunteering

We as individuals might like to volunteer our time and efforts for a cause. How often do we do it with our families ? I had my first stint at family volunteering in Jawahar Bal Bhavan, a children’s park in Bangalore. The mission being to complete painting the second wall at the entrance of the park. The first wall had been painted by a group of corporate volunteers to commemorate the World Environment Day. A professional artist drew the outline of the drawing so that the volunteers could fill in with bright colours. One wall of  130 feet by 3 feet was almost complete. Now the mission plan was to complete the second wall of a similar size with a similar painting.

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The first action point was to have the outline drawn on the second wall. The artist came a day earlier to have that done. It took her quite a lot of time due to the unevenness in the ground ! All I could help her with was to pour thinner into the 200 ml tin of black enamel paint. Once the outline sketch was ready, dad, the artist with the help of the painter who worked for Bal Bhavan had the paints mixed and kept ready in the park’s store room. The main colours such as red, blue, green, yellow, pink, brown and violet were prepared. Now all that was needed the next day was to fill them with bright colours.

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The D-day arrived. Dad, mom and me took the cartons of extra paints and brushes, thermocol plates, cut pieces of rough cloth to the Bal Bhavan in an auto. One can enter through the exit gates only as the entry gates open at 10:30 am. The activity was to begin at 9 and so the three of us reached the venue by 8:15 am. A bench near the walls was chosen to keep the painting items read. A bucket of water and mug were placed close by. Now we just waited for the volunteers to come in.

The first volunteer for the day was my mother. She was a school teacher and had not touched a brush for many years. She was eager to paint the clouds on the walls with blue. As she began painting the other volunteers slowly started coming it. The plan was simple the early comers would get the choice of choosing what they wanted to paint. Must thank my father for suggesting it ! There were clouds, grasses, butterflies, trees and innocent children faces playing hide and seek in the rain. As the volunteers came in Dad and me took turns to individually oriented them to take a look at the finished wall to get an idea what they wanted to paint and with what colour. Once they made up their minds they walked up to the bench which had the painting items, received the colours along with a brush from my dad and the painter and happily proceeded to try their artistic shots at the wall. For instance when a volunteer wanted to paint the clouds s/he was given some blue paint along with a flat brush.

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Almost all the volunteers who walked in had the chance of choosing what picture they wanted to paint on the wall. A few creatively coloured the hairs of the children on the wall with red, and calling them the red-headed little folks. While some enjoyed brightening the flowers and painting the grass. In a couple of hours the wall was completely filled with colours of red, blue, green, yellow, violet, pink and brown.

The event on the whole went smoothly. The main reason being the preparedness of keeping the paints ready for the volunteers to immediately dive into the painting activity without making them wait. Dad, the artist and the painter mixed all the main colours required for most of the pictures the evening before the activity. This was not done when the first wall was being painted a week earlier. That had made the volunteers spend some time waiting while the artist drew the sketch on the wall and then receive the paints. However I had learnt the lesson and with the help of Dad and the artist improved and geared for up for painting the second wall.

It felt wonderful to have seen my father volunteer and use his professional experience post retirement. Without his expertise it would have been very challenging for me to coordinate the event. Neither I had any knowledge of paints, or thinner or even that a wall requires a coating of primer before anything else can be done on it!  It felt wonderful to volunteer with family and share the same spirit. I must say we all try this sometime. It feels more meaningful and makes one look forward for more as the end result looks more bright and colourful.

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Employee Volunteering

Interacting with the three worlds !


Permission for cleaning a park! I had no clue.  I hadn’t done this before. I was given the idea to call BBMP office to know the procedure. So I tried the method and finally reached the BBMP Commissioner’s office to submit the permission letter. I realized how crowded the commissioner’s office could get. Many were in queue. I didn’t get a chance to meet him. Leaving the letter for review in the commissioner’s office, my next stop was to visit the park authorities.

While visiting the park authorities, the process began again of taking a printed letter to meet the concerned official. I was first given the contact of an official who then directed to another higher official. The permission was sought but took me four trips to the office. This was my interaction with the world of government authorities – the world of printed letter permissions, of long waits as the official get into urgent meetings, where face-to-face communication overrules emails/phone calls.

For designing activities I had to meet one of the team of a well-known NGO – Janaagraha who are into citizen activism. Here the people are more than happy to spend time to explain you about their work. To fix a meeting a phone call or an email becomes sufficient. They speak with so much passion for their work that it gets contagious and infects one easily. In fact during my meeting at Janaagraha I was inspired to sign up on their online community – I change my city. This is an online community similar to Facebook where residents in Bangalore can complain about a civic issue. The more the number of votes the issue gets it increases the possibility of attracting the attention of the civic authorities. Interacting with an NGO is like interacting with another world. They would want to reach out to people and get them involved in their cause.

This whole exercise happened to set the ball rolling for organizing a corporate volunteering event. So here came the part of interacting with the world of corporate. I had limited interaction with the company that signed up for the volunteering program except for one final meeting to discuss the agenda for the D-Day. This was a world for me of high-tech communication – of conference calls, of replies within one hour through emails. Where meetings are fixed only to fully attend them and a call at 1 pm is a call at 1 pm and not an hour later.

answers_picture Interacting with the government, NGO and the corporate made me don different hats during a similar time period. If at one situation I had to be very patient (this was definitely when I waited for a while in the government offices) then in another I had to be on the run with quick replies/alternatives. Be it the government, the NGO and the corporate, they have their own separate communication styles which required me to understand and conduct myself accordingly. Personally it was a great learning and for a next project I know which doors to knock and most importantly how to knock – does one tap on the door do the trick or many taps for someone inside to at least know you are there outside waiting with a printed permission letter !

Volunteering · Volunteering in India

You can empower our public education system…

If you have courage to walk a mile on the road less traveled,                                                                                                                                                 Enthusiasm to be part of social change,                                                                                                                                                                                     Excitement to bring smiles to young faces,                                                                                                                                                                                         And the sensitivity to reach under served…..

Here is your chance to contribute to empowerment of school education system in rural India. Apply for the one year fellowship program of Bachpan Banao.

Bachpan Banao works with the schools in villages of Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh to provide quality education to the children from marginalized background by strengthening local teachers and resources.

Social change makers are invited to apply for a 1 year fellowship program starting from August 2013. The application deadline is July 15th, 2013.

Participants need to be able to speak and write in Hindi and English, be familiar with computers, be energetic self-starters and have a vision for social change.

Fellows will be provided with stipend, food, accommodation and a certificate.

To know more about Bachpan Banao visit : http://bachpanbanao.wordpress.com/introduction/

To apply visit:  http://bachpanbanao.wordpress.com/apply/

Volunteering · Volunteering in India

Celebrate, reward and promote volunteering in India

The first ever iVolunteer Awards ceremony was held in Mumbai on April 8, 2013. The awards identify the champions leading the volunteering movement in India, recognize the contribution of volunteers and organisations that enable volunteering; and aim to celebrate, reward and promote volunteering in India.

Nandita Das, Actor Director with a fiery passion for social change was Guest of Honour at the ceremony, hosted in association with ceremony partners Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. In her keynote address, Nandita Das underlined the need to share and celebrate volunteering experiences saying,“(People inspire me), in a small way if I too can inspire somebody, then that is how we can create a chain of volunteering.”

Shalabh Sahai, Co-Founder and Director, iVolunteer affirmed the need to celebrate and reward volunteering. He said, “Our belief is that volunteers make a substantial contribution to the country’s development, but there is not enough recognition of this work and that is the missing link.”

Nominations and applications to the awards were accepted online for two categories, Volunteer Hero 2012 and Leader in Volunteer Engagement 2012. Entries received were showcased on an online platform where people were encouraged to view,share and vote for the organisations and individuals that inspired them. The finalists were chosen basis public voting (20,000+ votes polled) and screening by the awards team. The winners selected by a panel of National Jury members were felicitated at the iVolunteer Awards ceremony. In attendance were finalists, eminent personalities and thought leaders from the corporate and development sector.

C. Kartheeban was awarded title of Volunteer Hero 2012 in recognition of his pioneering voluntary work. Bangalore based Make A Difference (M.A.D.), was awarded the title of Leader in Volunteer Engagement 2012 in recognition of their efforts to strategically involve volunteers for community development. 

The celebrations ended on a high note with attendees stepping up to pledge to volunteer their time and skills to power India’s social development. Shalabh Sahai, renewing his pledge to volunteer professed, “The challenge before us is how to change India from a country of a million onlookers to a nation of a million volunteers and that’s what the iVolunteer Awards aim to do.”

The iVolunteer Awards Ceremony 2012 may have drawn to a close but the journey in promoting volunteering has only just begun…

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