Volunteering: transformation from thoughts to action

I am writing this blog to motivate myself and keep myself motivated to continue this journey in community service. I  thank my wife and my children for support in this journey. I have successfully spend last 5 Saturday for community programs and improving myself. The journey has been a very learning process for me and is teaching me to learn to live with silence and become more patient. 

Post Dec 2008 AID India conference in Bangalore, I attended Bangalore CSHs on regular basis and also performed passive volunteering coordinating with treasury and operations of AID INDIA, Bangalore , but never realized the desire to perform volunteering in the field. Staying at Brookfield’s, I found it tough to visit AC3 centre for volunteering as it was more than 20 Kms away. To perform volunteering locally, I was always looking for a existing setup and the search for the same was limited. I never went out of my home and decided lazily that around AECS layout, BEML layout and Brookfield’s, it all seemed to be areas where there might be no need of volunteering. Effectively volunteering has been the concept or dream and I was looking for a piggy ride one existing setup and wanted that to be close to my home and did not want to take any more initiatives.  In 2009, the only initiative was distributing 5th pillar zero rupee notes in Cosmos mall, Brookfield’s for Republic Day. In addition, I accompanied other AID volunteers to corporate offices and collect fund raising cheques and coordinate project payments

2010 arrived.  An year has gone! I decided to really search for volunteering opportunity and id it does not exists, i would create one. I could find two of them very close to my home one for teaching and one for medical care .

Every Day I have been crossing twice Karunashraya on Old airport Road and never went ahead and looked what they do. Karunashraya is hospice for advanced stage cancer patients.  On my first visit, I was welcomed by them to join for volunteering. They said that you can help us and the immediate work was in helping in the reception. I went and sat for three Saturdays at the reception handling telephone calls and understanding what the organization does. it was a learning experience and I learnt being patient.  Later I got an opportunity to participate in Walkathon organized  by Jain College on the World Cancer Day. Later they were looking for volunteers to spend a day at booth setup in the premises of one of their CSR donors (Financial) explaining karunashraya activities. I signed up and learnt how a positive attitude and smiling face helps to build a better mind model that gives happiness at the end of the day.

Hema of Karunasharya, introduced us (Sujatha (my wife) and me) for the campaign collection of old news paper and used clothes. We started this campaign in my apartment and have a good response. I am looking for help from the readers of this blog if they can help us implement this campaign  in other apartments and offices. I have started to evaluate whether ZWM can be implemented with Karunashraya, but we need more volunteers to start ZWM in Karunashraya

When i started thinking on these lines in 2010, it struck me that my house maid lived somewhere closeby and there might be a need for volunteering there. Yes! I did find through her the existence of a primary School (Class 1 -5) here. Initially I thought that I would set a replica AC3 centre evening visits, but was scared of how the school would take this concept. I went to the school and was welcomed by one of the teachers, Mr. Suresh there (at 8 AM on Saturday). I expressed my wish to help the children become computer aware help in their learning. I was preset with the thought of evening session. Suresh explained that the time that I would get time was weekdays from 3: 30 to 4: 30 or Saturday morning from 9 AM to 11 AM. I took time to digest the time given to me. I agreed for Saturday morning time. (Now I go to bed early on Friday evenings)

I understood more about the school and talked to other school teachers. There were 4 teachers and there were 5 classes and a helping hand was always in need. They already have computers (donated by some other organization). It was a realization that something was available all along and it took me one year to search and realize the same. Good now I know there is place. How to get to know to a school (students and teachers)? That was my first test.

How to get across the kids? I planned to join the Republic Day function there and took permission with Suresh to join. Remember I have not started actual volunteering till then. I also pulled Vidhya and Maqsood [ AID INDIA volunteers looking for volunteering in teaching]. We (vidhya brought her friend Saini too) went to the school. when I went at 8AM, nothing was setup and that was raising questions in my mind, which has been used to see organized Republic Day functions. Just then the kids started coming and they took initiative to clean the area, brought pictures of Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar and Bose. Within 30 minutes, a stage was getting ready and there was chairs for delegates. Every child said “Good morning Sir” to me and i used to respond to each one of them “Good morning sir”. Kids started wishes more times and kept wishing each one back individually. I did not realize that this simple response made me connected with them.

Being excited, I asked my wife and children to join me there in republic Day function. We also bought some chocolates for school children. Something shocking and very nice happened. The school students and teachers asked the four of us to sit in the stage of the function. I cried in my heart “ what have I done to get this respect and love? Am I eligible for them? Can I stand up for this love and respect?”Going forward, I am going to there on Saturday mornings as long as possible.

In this journey, some times I feel it would be nice to have manager who will pull me and ask why things are not completed. There is no manager neither monetary benefit to keep myself focussed and generated energy needed, have positive attitude and  keep me motivate all along. here no one would appreciate you, point your mistakes and neither ask why you did not come that day. I am happy with the journey till now.