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This NGO Is Giving A Reality Check On What It Really Means To Be A Volunteer

Thought volunteering is a piece of cake?

Here’s an NGO that will take the sugar coating off for you. – Milonee Sanghavi

When someone mentions that they “volunteer” with an NGO, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably that the person is philanthropic in nature, they have a lot of spare time (that too without gaining any monetary benefits), that they are passionate about creating change or even that they want to be fashionably charitable. Most importantly, one believes that volunteering is a noble act that makes a person a better version of themselves.

But U&I, a charitable organisation that impacts 1200 underprivileged children through the help of 1500 volunteers is here to show us the real picture.

A rather unusual video, recently released by the organisation as a part of its volunteer recruitment campaign, shows us the not-so-noble aspects of being a volunteer. It reveals that volunteering is often about discipline, hard work and, even, lost sleep. It’s a humorous dig at the testimonials volunteers give about how volunteering has changed their life. You can watch the video below:

The video indicates that volunteering can be rewarding – but there’s a huge cost involved. With this unusual message, U&I is trying to gain more volunteers to its tribe as it seeks to educate more children in the coming year.

“We have had the privilege of being associated with thousands of young, energetic and talented people who have volunteered with us. With the pace that their world runs in, they have no patience for sugar-coating truth or trying to paint a better picture. This video is our attempt to portray the truth about the effort and dedication that goes into being a volunteer. It’s painstaking and requires a lot of work, but at the end of the day, all the effort is worth it”, says Ajit Sivaram, co-founder of U&I.  

A regular day at one of the centres at U&I, especially one with kids below the age of ten, looks something like this – volunteers chasing after kids who are keen on perfecting their hide-and-seek skills, kids sprawled on the floor testing the wrestling moves while their ‘akkas’ and ‘annas’ try to separate them, volunteers desperately attempting to convince their kid to finish just one more chapter. Yes, this is not your conventional classroom. But there’s always the incessant laughter of the kids and volunteers as they commence their weekly lessons.

The relationship between the kids and volunteers is more than that shared between a teacher and student, they become ‘akkas’ and ‘annas’, or elder siblings to the kids, someone they look up to and go to when they are troubled or even when they want to share something that made them happy.

This bond turns the centres from a boring educational establishment to a place of fun learning via the various creative activities and worksheets that the volunteers bring to every class.

The tagline for the campaign is “Never easy. Always worth it.” It’s an attempt to urge young people to try their hand at teaching, sparing just 2.5 hours of their week, without making false promises about how easy a task it will be. If you still think that volunteering is going to be a way to give back and make a huge impact in some child’s life, you are mistaken. The impact that the child will have on your life is going to be much greater than the one you make in theirs.

You must be to comment.
  1. Donate an Hour -DoaR India

    Volunteering has gained lots of popularity recently, partly becauseany of the schools have made it mandatory for its kids (without realising the actual need) and foreign University applications and some millennials genuinely wants to make the change. However most of the time people think that volunteering is like morning walk in the park, they don’t realise that it is a marathon. You feel pain, you losses your breath, your lungs crave for air, you loose your determination during the run but when you cross the finish line with the sense of accomplishment and the feeling you get is the same feeling with volunteering.
    If you want to make change invest uourself, your time, not your money. And target long term, you can not build a forest in one day. It takes years.
    P.S. I volunteer in Donate an hour, a NGO, which encourages people to give their time to teach kids.
    http://www.donateanhour.org
    http://www.facebook.com/donateanhour

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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