16 Jun Volunteer Den: Tanmay Sarkar
I have been volunteering with an NGO named Bhumi for more than 2 years. Although it’s quite difficult to explain in words my journey of volunteering, I will try my best to brief my experience of volunteering with Bhumi NGO. If you are reading then please read it till the end.
So, it all started back in the mid of 2017 when I was in my second year in college. Already wasted the first year of engineering doing nothing, I was searching for something that could add good weight to my resume. While scrolling down different answers on Quora, I read somewhere that a certificate of volunteering can be of great value for a fresher. Then after doing a little bit of research about volunteering with non-profit firms, I finally decided to join an NGO. I googled about various NGO’s working in Kolkata learnt about their cause, their projects, minimum commitment period and the criteria for getting a certificate. From the long list of NGOs, I filtered the ones having a very flexible certificate policy and then registered for volunteering. The first call I got from Bhumi NGO and I went to their orientation where I chose the LEM project and luckily got selected for the same. Until now, I had no such great intentions of giving back to society or giving any selfless service to the needy, I just joined to get a certificate.
And finally, the day arrived when I went to take the class for the first time. I still remember it was 20th August 2017, the day which later on proved to be one of the most precious days of my life. I was assigned to Loreto Rainbow Home, Elliot Road and the timing was 2-4 pm every Sunday. Initially, I was not comfortable with the timing. Who would like to waste their Sunday afternoon and go out in the scorching sun to teach someone? But I had no choice and had to accept it. The very first day, I got a group of 6 kids whom I had to teach. I tried to interact with them but they didn’t seem to be interested at all. They were asking for some didi (I don’t remember the name of the volunteer) who used to teach them earlier. Somehow I tried to interact by discussing their interests and hobbies but couldn’t teach anything for the first 2 days. Then I started with the topics they have already covered, revised them quickly and then moved to new topics. Slowly, they started showing interest in learning from. They started enjoying my class and whenever I took a leave, they used to ask for me. 3 months passed by and I started enjoying the time that I spent with the kids on Sundays. Every week, I used to wait eagerly for Sundays to come so that I can go to teach the kids.
Now comes the phase when I got deeply involved with Bhumi. At a certain point in time, we realized that there is a lot of scope for improvement. We tried different ways, experimented and implemented some ideas which proved to be fruitful later on. We made attractive worksheets for kids, introduced fun learning activities like maths race and virtual supermarket to improve the content of the class. We took mathematics out of the four walls of the classroom to the ground and filled it with loads of fun. Thereafter, I took the role of centre coordinator of the centre from where I started my volunteering journey. As a CC, I always made sure that the volunteers should get an appreciation for their efforts they put on. I have always valued the ideas of my fellow volunteers and gave them the freedom to experiment and implement changes which are for good. Later on, new centres were started and I had to switch to a new centre to manage the centre and to guide the new volunteers. I am currently continuing with Bhumi as the centre coordinator of one of the learning centres of the LEM project.
In my journey so far, I met many amazing people from different walks of life who inspired, cheered and motivated me to work for a noble cause. I learnt many things from them which I can never forget. I made many good friends at Bhumi who has always supported me at difficult times. In Bhumi, I got the chance to take a leadership role at an early stage of my career and for the first time and the learnings and experience were enriching. My communication, leadership and interpersonal skills improved a lot and for that, all the credit goes to Bhumi. I will always be thankful to Bhumi for everything.
I never knew I would ever involve myself so deeply for a cause which was once not even a cause for me. Standing here at this point in life when I look backwards, I see joining Bhumi as one of the best decisions I ever made. Although I just joined for the certificate, the certificate doesn’t have any value for me now. There are many memorable moments and sweet memories which I won’t forget ever. I learnt a lot from the kids whom I taught. They taught me many invaluable lessons for life which I can’t even describe by words. They boosted my confidence and make me believe however worst the situation is, there is always a ray of hope.
I believe the perspective of people towards volunteering has been wrong. In my opinion, volunteering is not an act of giving selflessly rather its an act of receiving unknowingly. And I never mind repeating that while you volunteer, in the act of giving back to the society, you learn more than you teach and you gain more than you give.