14 Apr Volunteer Den – Santhosh Mathevan
A little about yourself (origin, education, past work experiences)
I am Chennai-born man of Nagercoil origin. But the better part of my life was spent in Trichy, where I did my schooling and grew up. I completed my undergrad degree in Mechanical Engineering. However, I was passionate about writing and my interest in politics pushed me into media. I took part in several political debate shows during my college days. Finally, I opted for journalism after my graduation and started my career as a reporter in The New Indian Express. I had a parallel track in my life, volunteering for causes, right from my schooling days.
How did volunteering with Bhumi happen (including beginning, which project you volunteered for)?
After my school days, my volunteering hours witnessed a slow decrease and after a while it ultimately was non-existent. Much later I came across a post in a Facebook page- ‘Trichy Confessions’ about ‘Nakshatra’, I googled it and finally ended up in Bhumi’s website. That’s when I learned about Bhumi’s activities. I was completely fascinated and it resurrected the dormant volunteer inside me. I attended orientation and joined as a Lakshya volunteer. After a year of being a part of Lakshya and understanding Bhumi completely, I decided to take up more of a responsibility. I took up the Project Coordinator role of Little Einsteins Maths. However, my profession restricted me from attending sessions frequently and I had no other option but to limit myself from coordinating the project and center visits. I do feel sad now and then as I do not get to spend as much time with the kids as I had during my college days.
What change did these experiences bring in your life? How has Bhumi altered you, personally
Firstly, Bhumi taught me how a structured organization runs and how documentation is done irrespective of the results of the tasks completed. I learned all this when I was still in college. Only later when I entered the corporate world did I realize how much I have changed and the major reason was Bhumi. As I had the experience of being a part of such a structured organization for more than a year already, it was easy for me to get along with Indian Express. Apart from the professional aspect, Bhumi and especially Lakshya, has cultivated several qualities in me, namely adaptability, ability to handle pressure, planning, leadership, and completing a task.
One most memorable incident in your life as a Bhumian.
My first Joy to the World (JTW) gift distribution. Although, Nakshatra plays a leading role in letting kids enjoy, I personally feel that JTW gives them unmatched happiness. I still remember kids who had asked for pencil boxes with Chotta Bheem, Dora, etc along with color specifications. But, when we were purchasing, we couldn’t find boxes as specified by the kids, and I was stubborn to buy the boxes only with proper specifications mentioned by kids. Even my co-volunteers tried convincing me that kids would adjust and asked me to go with available cartoon characters and that color doesn’t matter much. I was not convinced nor satisfied. Suddenly an idea struck. We bought boxes in colors as specified by the kids with different characters. Later I bought stickers of Chotta Bheem, Ben10, etc and removed the original stickers and stuck the new ones. We distributed the gifts and the look on their faces when they got their hands on their favorite boxes was priceless and made all of it worthwhile. Therein lies the real satisfaction.
Tell us about one Bhumian, who you think is a very good inspiration for you
Ahh!! This question leaves me in chaos. I personally don’t believe in ‘one inspiration’ theory as one gets inspired by many people in various aspects. It’s a long list, from day one in orientation when I met Aarthi who was very bold and was crystal clear in all that she said about Bhumi, to people like Romio, Gayathri akka (Every Trichy Bhumian calls her akka affectionately), Ashwin from whom I learnt how to lead a team. Harish, a lot to learn from him, for instance, he never says ‘No’ to anything. I’m trying to mimic Sampath’s ability to organize things perfectly. On seeing, Vaishnavi (Bangalore) and Raafi, I started appreciating and thanking people for every single thing. It’s second nature to them. Even for some incomplete tasks Raafi would cheer and try to be encouraging. Hence this is a long list that can run for pages.
Any specific, special moment with kids or volunteers you would like to share with us?
Yes, there are many such moments. First session in Lakshya at TELC Annai center, Trichy. The way kids got attached to us holds a place most cherished in my memories. Since it was my first session, no one around me, the volunteers or the kids knew me. To the contrary I didn’t feel like a stranger at all there. I have noticed many volunteers struggling during their first two or three sessions, but I felt like a complete Bhumian, the very first moment I entered the session. It all feels like I joined Bhumi yesterday, but two years have passed since then.
A message to every volunteer at Bhumi?
Bhumi is a platform not only to teach but also to learn and feel your real ‘self’. Above all, experience non-stop sincere volunteering like never before 🙂