Vaishnavi Srinivasan is a volunteer with Bhumi — a youth volunteer non-profit organization providing supplementary education to underprivileged children across India. Growing up in a lower middle class family, a large part of her education was funded through scholarships. This brought the realization in her to give back to the society by donating her time and skills to educate the underprivileged. She believes,
“volunteering is the change that begins within and empowers to bring about a change we want to see”.
It is with this understanding and willingness Vaishnavi registered to volunteer with Bhumi at the Chennai center to spend a couple of hours on the weekends educating children, while pursuing her post-graduation in Financial Economics in 2009. Volunteering in different roles and working with children and volunteers at Bhumi over the last three years, has groomed her and added much value to her life. For her, nothing beats the sense of accomplishment than hearing from her students, “I want to teach children in my area just like you are teaching us”, who are becoming responsible and willing to uplift their communities. It brings immense satisfaction to her to know that in addition to learning various subjects in school, these children are also learning to give back to the society.
As a volunteer, Vaishnavi has thoroughly enjoyed her experience – engaging the children in activities, innovating new ways to explain established concepts, evaluating their understanding without intimidating them and becoming one among them. She had the chance to introduce new teaching aids and organize inter-center competitions to expose the talents of these. She also contributed to making the volunteering structure more robust – by providing opportunities to the volunteers at Bhumi to explore other classes and to learn best practices across Bhumi’s other learning centers, Programmes and track progress within centers to ensure quality is maintained.
Addiction to children’s smiles got her started on a new chapter for Bhumi in Bangalore along with a few other volunteers, within just a few months of her relocation from Chennai. In addition to teaching regularly, she has started working on the administrative aspects of volunteer coordination, resource gathering & management, etc. Bhumi, being an entirely youth volunteer based organization, has given her immense freedom to innovate, lead and grow as a person beyond the two hours of volunteering that she signed up for. She has met so many like-minded friends and inspiring people through Bhumi who have changed her life in a positive way.
Though she aspired to join the armed forces in her childhood, she realized over the years that to serve the nation, one does not need the uniform. After joining Bhumi, this idea has grown stronger within her. She had the honour of being awarded the ‘Youth Volunteer of the Year’ Award 2011 at the AIVA, which has further motivated her to contribute with much more vigour and commitment. What was once her leisure time activity has now become a part of her identity.
Case study published in Volunteering in India: Contexts, Perspectives and Discourses by UN Volunteers
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