Volunteerism

youth_initiative

By P. Asha Ritu:

Change requires unity, willingness and an edge to stand up for a cause. Change requires initiatives and for that we must imbibe the culture of ‘initiatives’!

When was the last time you laughed your heart out without a thousand worries swirling in your mind? This may seem as a normal and a routine question to ask but think about it! In the midst of everything that is happening all around the world, how much of it actually makes us smile and feel glad about being alive? The answer would be – none for there is hardly anything which brings a small smile on our lips.

So when a group of people unite to undertake the responsibility of making everyone around smile and spread happiness in this depressing world, it is then that a small change is witnessed! Such is the vision of the US based organization Clowns without Border (CWB). Founded in 1993 by Tortell Poltrona, Clowns without Border began when Poltrona was invited to perform in Croatia in a refugee camp. His audience included some 700 children. This initiated the thought that entertainment or happiness becomes a basic need when people are struck with calamity or are in crisis. The impact that such events leave on an individual’s mind can only be driven away through laughter and happiness.

After the first performance, two more performers, Boni and Caroli joined Poltrona and began performing in Croatia. Gradually the number of shows began increasing and the trio was invited to Sweden, France, Israel, Palestine, Columbia and other such countries.

Such a small initiative might have died the moment it was born, unless people decided to execute it and be the change they wanted to see around them! It might seem as an easy task but the change that follows in an individual’s life due to a few minutes of hearty laughs helps volumes in his/her life. After all, a single act of happiness is better than ten acts of development. At least you are sure of the person’s laughter!!

60 years and we are still looking for reasons for how to live in peace with our neighboring nation! And we top the list of developing nations!

When policies become stubborn and the law just does not make sense, it is then that such an initiative from a common man makes a difference in a society’s thought pattern. Nothing could be more ironic than the fact that it is a struggle of humans against humans. Why discard some because they do not fall under the routine norms of our society?

Initiatives such as the Seeds of Peace program may serve as a reminder to all the so- called policy makers, that, at times the young and unpolluted minds have better options that the scripted laws. Peace does not come over night, but it must be constantly worked towards and once achieved, it has to be sustained.

Seeds of Peace founded by John Wallach in 1993 aims at empowering youth from areas of conflict, who possess leadership skills. It helps them reconcile and co-exist. Active in the Middle East and South Asia, Seeds of Peace has brought 4500 young people together to promote peace and harmony through them.

Such initiatives bring about such radical changes in the society which in turn, help create big revolutions. Let’s revive the lost culture and help cultivate the culture of ‘initiatives’!

Image courtesy: http://www.betterafricayouth.org/

india_beggar

By Alex Mathew V:

The other day, I was at KFC, I noticed a poster stuck inside. It was about a certain “world hunger relief fund”. The person at the counter asked me if I would pay 5 to 10 rupees extra towards the world hunger relief fund. I paid the extra amount, and I stood there to observe a few other people standing in queue. Almost every person that walked in paid the extra. Does this mean that so many people really care about the poor and the hungry? Well, I shall continue my story. Right outside the restaurant door, was a lady with a baby in her lap. She was sitting on the roadside and begging for loose change. Everyone I saw, who were walking into the restaurant were ignoring her. Most people looked at her with disgust, as though she were some sort of unclean creature who should be kept away from humankind.

So what’s going on here? Is supporting a cause today something people do out of conscience or has it become a fashion statement. Opening facebook, one can see a million causes to support, and a million people supporting it. But as far I can see, there is no manifestation of this. Nothing has changed. It seems that today, people care only about what they look like, not what they are. To me, the world hunger relief fund that KFC is contributing looks like a marketing strategy. People will show up and pay up when it becomes fashionable to eat at KFC, and supporting hunger relief is fashionable right now. So is a million other causes like going “green”, going vegetarian, recycling, etc..

If we actually supported these causes spending as much time, and energy as we spend talking about them, the world would be a very different place. It seems that today we are becoming masters of superficiality. We have become shallow to the extent that we are able to deceive even our own consciences into thinking we are doing a good deed. People today care more about writing achievements on their C.V. than they care about achieving what they write. The very meaning of human existence has been reduced to something so artificial and so fake.

It is really quite a sad thing to see, and it is getting worse, the youth today is discordant and impotent. We are not a voice to reckon with anymore, we are fickle minded and change what we stand for based on what looks good in society. We are a sham. Where is the youth who fought for this country during the freedom struggle? Where is the youth that once represented energy and passion? Beauty today has become skin deep, and that is not just a metaphor.

If we at least to our own selves, strip away our pretences, and look at ourselves for what we really are, I think most of us would be ashamed at what we would find.

It is better to be cold than to be lukewarm, it is better not to help the poor than to pretend that we do, for when we pretend, we are cheapening the value of those who genuinely do, we are destroying their credibility.

We need to stop fooling our consciences, let us at least be honest with ourselves. At least then there is scope for improvement. How can we change when we are blind to the need for it?

Image courtesy: http://www.globalenvision.org/2008/07/11/indias-begging-question

nirmala kadam

By Geetika Vasudeva:

A normal Monday morning. Mr. Sharma is getting ready for the office. Suitcase, files, handkerchief – everything in place. After the sumptuous aloo paranthas, Mr. Sharma sets out for another long day at work on his scooter. While waiting for the signal to go green at one of the traffic lights, he sees a woman lying on the footpath, unconscious, and a young boy, his face smeared with tears screaming for help. Banging on car windows, running around barefoot in the scorching heat, the boy keeps on shouting incessantly. And the light turns green! Mr. Sharma, though feeling bad for the boy and his mother, moves ahead like everyone, thinking that somebody else will definitely help him out. Little does he know, that the entire city is full of Mr.Sharmas, who consider reaching office on time more important than a human life. A normal day in our city, indeed!

The recent case of a woman bleeding to death after giving birth to a baby on a footpath in the capital, just proves the fact that today’s Indian is devoid of emotion, love and compassion. So engrossed we are with ourselves, that someone else’s misery and pain fail to pierce the strong walls of indifference enclosing our hearts and minds. So concerned are we about our own conveniences, that a human life doesn’t seem worthy of our time.

The Hindustan Times lead story covering the gory incident where Delhi neglected a pregnant destitue lying on the road side.

There’s is an urgent need of breaking this deafening silence and a desperate attempt required to restore the lost love. We can better the situation only by changing as an individual, only by realising that it could be you or me the next time and the whole world passing by, only by finding a voice!

So, it’s time to bury Mr. Sharmas existing in each one of us and become a person who thinks and feels for the people around, who won’t move ahead at a traffic signal thinking that somebody else will come out to help, who’ll be free from the shackles of indifference.

SaveLife Foundation is one such organization working India that combines community volunteerism with Healthcare, Technology and Law Enforcement to facilitate immediate rescue and care for road accident victims. To know more and join them log on to http://slfindia.org/

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