Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sharing knowledge, changing lives

Holding a perfect nine to five job, being part of the corporate sales team in the hospitality industry and drawing a fat salary. Mumbai-based 37-year-old Bryan Aroz couldn't have asked for more.

However, even while going through the daily grind, his heart wanted to do something more satisfying. One day, he read an advertisement about iVolunteer, an organisation that encourages young professionals to contribute their time and experience towards the betterment of the society, and Aroz knew his calling.

"I always wanted to do some kind of social work but never got an opportunity. I joined iVolunteer's latest programme as I considered it as a golden chance to get away from the monotonous corporate world and do something tangible,"says Aroz.

Aroz is one of the many professionals who has come under the umbrella of iVolunteer to contribute towards the society and in its progress in their own little way. A non-profit organisation founded in 2001, iVolunteer's latest venture -- India Fellow Professional Program --began late last year.

What started with 15 professionals coming forward to join as volunteers ready to be posted in different parts of the country, is now growing fast. Says Shalabh Sahai, co-founder and director of iVolunteer, "We collaborate with regional NGOs. The work needed in a particular village is conveyed by the NGO to the organisation and we select a professional who is competent for that particular work."

Activities range from teaching and handling environmental problems, teaching professional skills, marketing skills for local crafts and arts and guiding villagers with latest information, among many others.

According to Sahai, "The basic idea behind iVolunteer is to fasten the growth of progress in India. This is possible only if the human power and knowledge is utilised to its maximum for the development of rural India." Professionals from mainstream jobs like web design, finance, human resource, engineers, all form part of the volunteer base.

Volunteers are selected on the basis of their work experience and personal interview. An individual is thereafter posted anywhere in the country for a period of two months depending on his skills and background. While the accommodation and food is provided by the local NGO, iVolunteer pays Rs5,000 per month to the volunteer for expenses incurred during the stay.
Like Aroz, who was stationed at Kathgodam in Uttaranchal and was working with the NGO Pahal to raise funds and also assist in organising self help groups in the village.Or as Delhi-based project manager, Brainmatics, Neha Das was sent to Kathgodamto make credit loans accessible to farmers which they could avail easily. She took a two month break from her regular job and this despite her work being affected.

"I was also aware that my annual reviews would be impacted but I couldn't help it. This is what I always wanted to do," says Das. She cherishes those months spent at the village and the experience of living in the cold temperature, living frugal and struggling her way has changed Das. She has become a farmore calmer person who is able to take work pressures in her stride.
For Ranjit Singh, who worked with an NGO in Kolkata, iVolunteer sent him to Aurangabad, a dry belt area as a research analyst to study the watershed programme of two locations. "It gave me a chance to serve people who actually need help and secondly, I got to go to a place where I've never been to," says Singh.

For Aroz, his perception of a village was redefined after his stay in one. The stereotypical image of a village with bullock carts and illiterate people received a jolt. "I was passing by a field and young kids came to me and began talking in English. There was a girl who was a graduate and began conversing with me in fluent English," he recalls.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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