Daan Utsav 2019: Stories Of Ushering Change By Volunteering
Children playing in the sand. (Photograph: Make A Difference)

Daan Utsav 2019: Stories Of Ushering Change By Volunteering

BloombergQuintOpinion

India just celebrated Daan Utsav Week from Oct. 2 to Oct 8. BloombergQuint brings you a series of first-person accounts on volunteering that narrate stories of how different organisations across India are engaging volunteers at scale, or in depth, and bringing about a significant transformation in society.

Daan Utsav 2019: Stories Of Ushering Change By Volunteering

Every Indian Volunteering

Millions of people donate every year in India and contributions continue to grow, with more and more sophisticated ways to get people to give, such as ‘checkout charity’. Yet, the citizens who ‘give’ are often creators of social problems in the first place; the problems they create need funds far in excess of their own contributions, to be fixed. So how does one change this? Unfortunately, in a world seeking quick fixes to everything, there is no solution other than the complex, difficult one: getting deeply involved.

Unlike giving money, once you start volunteering your time, you will regularly interact with the people you are helping, and you are bound to start understanding their lives better. It helps you figure out what the root causes of problems are and you’ll gradually move down the path of being more involved, writes Venkat N Krishnan, principal trustee at the India Welfare Trust.

Read more here.

Volunteers prepare and serve food to flood victims in Alappuzha, Kerala, on Aug. 23, 2018. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)
Volunteers prepare and serve food to flood victims in Alappuzha, Kerala, on Aug. 23, 2018. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

The Power Of Collective Kindness – Cognizant Outreach

It was in the bylanes of North Chennai eight years ago that volunteers of Outreach, the employee volunteering programme of Cognizant, met Divya and Alex* (name changed). The children of daily wage workers, Divya and Alex lived in flimsy makeshift shelters. Despite their circumstances, they displayed a keen aptitude for learning and determination to succeed. Thereafter, every weekend, under the tutelage of Outreach volunteers, the children learnt their academic lessons as well as a few valuable life skills. Today, they are graduate students pursuing studies in colleges of their choice on Outreach Scholarships. As first-generation graduates in their families, they are role models for other children in their community. These are just two heart-warming examples of countless Outreach success stories, writes Deepak Prabhu Matti, Global Head of ‘Outreach’, at Cognizant.

Read more here.

A volunteer  coaching a wheelchair-bound basketball team. (Photograph: Cognizant)
A volunteer coaching a wheelchair-bound basketball team. (Photograph: Cognizant)

Remodelling Education Through ‘Remote’ Access – eVidyaloka

October 2010. Just another typical day at work. Or so I thought. I was checking mails when I came across a newsletter that proved to be a tipping point in my career. A note on volunteering by another colleague from Microsoft – Bangalore, caught my attention and a phone call later that night with Satish, led to a passionate conversation of how volunteering and technology can come together to bring quality education to rural India. This two hour phone call not only changed the course of my life positively, but also over 15,000-plus children of rural India, now, as we speak, writes Venkat Sriraman, Executive Director at eVidyaloka Trust.

Read more here.

Birthday celebrations at an eVidyaloka centre. (Image courtesy: eVidyaloka)
Birthday celebrations at an eVidyaloka centre. (Image courtesy: eVidyaloka)

Knowledge, Truly For All – Esha, People For The Blind

When people work for love, money cannot buy the output they produce. It was this belief that made Esha a volunteer-driven initiative from the start. Before Esha was launched as a standalone initiative in 2005, I had worked as a volunteer for more than a decade with various schools for the visually impaired, and spent hours bent over a braille board, followed by a braille slate, and then a brailler pounding away to create content in braille. On this journey, I had the good fortune of meeting other people who did this work for one thing only – personal gratification. The idea was not, “I’m doing this to make a better world.” It was, “I do this because it makes me happy,” writes Nidhi Arora, Catalyst at Esha – People For The Blind.

Read more here.

 Young children and an Esha volunteer in a ‘Blind Walk’ session. (Photo: Esha)
Young children and an Esha volunteer in a ‘Blind Walk’ session. (Photo: Esha)

Never Let Food Go Waste – Feeding India

In 2014, I was at a wedding in Delhi, where over 35 cuisines were served. I was curious to know what happened to the leftover food. When I asked the caterer, he told me that all the extra food, enough to feed almost 5,000 people, was to be thrown away. In a country where nearly 2,000 children under the age of five die of malnutrition every night, the possible scale of this wastage, especially of food that is fit for consumption, kept me up all night. I knew I had to do something about it.

Over the next few weeks, I convinced a few friends and colleagues to join me in collecting surplus food from weddings, parties, canteens, restaurants, etc., and donate it to those who need it. Despite my parents’ initial reluctance, and the fact that no one thought a solution was possible, I soon quit my job.

Starting with a team of five volunteers in Delhi, we launched Feeding India, writes Ankit Kawatra.

Read more here.

Volunteering for Feeding India (Photo: Feeding India)
Volunteering for Feeding India (Photo: Feeding India)

It’s Time To Give Up Plastic – Project Mumbai

Everyone seems to be aware of the perils of plastic, but no one knew what to do next. The Mumbai Plastic Recyclothon was our simple and yet catchy initiative to inspire people. At project Mumbai, we wanted people to do something for Mumbai. To participate and own the city which they felt so strongly for. When we announced the Recyclothon, making it an attractive offering, they responded, and how. Close to 80,000 people donated their plastic. Our proposition was simple — give away whatever plastic you can. We will pick it up from you and recycle it. arly this year, from the recycled plastic, we managed to make benches. We are now working on the feasibility of increasing the production of such benches, which can be installed in BMC gardens, writes Shishir Joshi, founder and CEO of Project Mumbai.

Read more here.

Bound bales of crushed plastic bottles and containers sit stacked ready to be recycled at a recycling centre. (Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg)
Bound bales of crushed plastic bottles and containers sit stacked ready to be recycled at a recycling centre. (Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg)

Care, Community And Children – Make A Difference

A recent multi-city research conducted by ‘Make A Difference’ to understand the adult outcomes of children who grew up in shelter homes threw up something that we least expected. For every three adults we interviewed, at least one of their shelter peers was reported to have died or gone missing. A vast majority (93 percent) of them were under the age of 35.46 percent were lost within 10 years of leaving institutional care.

There seem to be two primary reasons for high mortality rate in children who leave shelter homes: Limited individual attention in shelter homes, and Children being forced to leave the shelter home after 18 years.

Here’s how the ‘MAD model’ has been able to tailor its program to cater to children’s needs and deliver drastically different outcomes, writes Jithin Nedumala, founder of Make A Difference.

Read more here.

Children and volunteers play ‘tug-of-war’ in Cochin. (Photograph: Make A Difference)
Children and volunteers play ‘tug-of-war’ in Cochin. (Photograph: Make A Difference)
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