Graduating from IIT, a job in a well-known MNC was an obvious choice. I was designing circuits for various mobile applications. The job was challenging, interesting, I learned a lot but the most important thing, which made me stick to it for 5 years, was the opportunities my company provided towards community development. Before TI, “giving back to society” for me, mainly meant donating money/material. It was only later that I saw how important and how much more difficult (and thus more satisfying) it was to donate my time and my skills. Writing a cheque was easy, but it was easily forgotten as well. TI India Foundation gave me an opportunity to volunteer my time at various NGOs. I was a companion to old people, a teacher to under privileged children or a friend to special kids. Sometimes a fundraiser, sometimes a marketing help for an NGO. It allowed me to take up so many different roles and go beyond my daily routine of being a design engineer. The impact was observable immediately; the satisfaction was delivered just as soon.
But it wasn’t easy being a volunteer every time. It’s different to see poverty from outside and think about doing something about it than to experience it and work within it. I would just like to recount an instance here, which made me question my efforts towards volunteering as well as strengthened them.
I was once trying to convince the parents of a 10-year-old slum girl to allow her to continue school. I gave all the regular arguments of the vicious cycle of poverty and that until she gets good education, there is no way out for her. The father of the child, made his 6 children stand in line in front of me and simply said, if she doesn’t work the rest go hungry.
I was dumbfounded by that response. That time I just left, went to my mentor and cried my heart out. However, she insisted that I go back and try harder. I did and I succeeded and it gave me such pleasure that no other achievement of mine could stand in front of it.
I’ve had my share of disappointments as well, but in this field one success is worth tens of disappointments.
While the desire to contribute more grew, time was limited and that’s what triggered the change. From a part-time volunteer, I became a full time volunteer with save the children and then a full time employee with iVolunteer, where I get to manage and interact with volunteers from different walks of life eager to give their time and skills to change lives. Along with ensuring that their skills are best utilised, I am back to part time volunteering again!
PS: I’m sharing this post for the alternative’s Bucket-a-hope campaign. Grab your “bucket”, fill it with hope and share your giving story with firstname.lastname@example.org.