They do not boast of an office or of any overhead expense, but the environment of their home or a humble school/ community becomes their meeting place. More than the money, they ask for helping hands.
Volunteering has certainly come of age and leading the way are young professionals. Some, besides being active with their company’s corporate social responsibility wing, take time off from work to start a non-profit organisation and fight for a cause.
Priyesh C. was 22 years old and in his first job when he was moved by the plight of girls in a school for the mentally-challenged near S.I.E.T. He started by contributing educational material and spending a few hours on week days, which motivated him to start a non-governmental organisation, ‘Help to Live,’ with four other project mates. Today, the group of software engineers is eight years old and has completed 70 social projects in and around city.
Accidents need not happen only on the roads, it could be at your workplace or at home. That triggered Kala Balasundaram to start Amenity Lifeline Emergency Response Team or ALERT, where she and her team organises workshops for cab drivers, professionals and students. “Get trained and act in need, it could be for a stranger or a loved one,” says the senior delivery manager with Hewlett-Packard on ALERT’s motto.
There are many such professionals offering their mite, especially on weekends, for a social cause. From computer education to the less privileged children to running errands for helpless senior citizens to mobilising colleagues to donate blood to taking a green drive in the city, the number of young volunteers contributing for a better India is certainly on the rise. A majority of them do not come with any prior experience but are driven by the realities of life.
“We started volunteering and learnt from the existing NGOs. It’s not an easy task. We tried our expertise in all areas including health, education and employment to final focus on providing educational material and teaching to underprivileged children,” says Priyesh, working with Mphasis.
Technology also has come to the aid of these informal organisations in a great way, where they network with like-minded volunteers through social networking sites.
If individuals and institutions cannot spare time to support their colleagues, they offer monetary help or encourage them.
“Every month when I go home, I have colleagues and friends who shell out money to help in whatever little way they can,” says J.M. Karthikeyan whose financial help reaches 32 villages in Tiruvarur district to offer tuition classes to children.
However, there are many instances of youngsters enrolling with an organisation only to discontinue after a few visits.
“I have seen youngsters who are doing their best at the same time individuals who do not understand the intensity of a problem before taking up a task,” says N.S. Venkataraman, Trustee, Nandini Voice For the Deprived. “Maturity and the need to channel peoples’ energy in the right way are also important.”