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.