Volunteers are paid by happiness.
The best about the visits to schools is the return journey. Not because that marks the end of work, but because each person in the bus discusses the experiences of the day. And it really is the best looking at everyone narrating their stories of how they met a studious kid or had to shout their voice box out, or how warm the kids were while welcoming the volunteers.
Why do you think people compromise with their only weekly off to drive to a small school, inhale the chalk dust and teach at their loudest possible scream? In the end, it is just volunteering and the people at stake can never force the students for the same. Yet, the number of students enrolled as volunteers for i-Help keep stepping up, with more than 200 students this year.
The students have reached here after receiving a certain bare minimum, even in terms of social emotion. During their orientation, each student has a sense of happiness when she learns about the efforts made to address a social cause at the campus. During their convocation, they have a sense of pride in being part of a social cause that helped the not-so-privileged ones.
There is always a feeling of altruism when budding students wish to become a part of this organisation. And the fact that they had just left school, coupled with the opportunity to be on the other side of the table this time, motivates them further. The weekly-off on Thursdays when i-Help visits are conducted just comes in handy.
There is not much training required for this volunteering, which is another reason why there are huge numbers of people involved. Apart from basic Mathematics and English, the volunteers teach the kids whatever they would like to learn. They talk about the dreams and wishes of the kids. The fact that the volunteers help these kids move a step forward in the direction of the dream is really satiating.
i-Help volunteers aren’t teachers but didis and bhaiyas to the kids, who wish to enjoy for some hours with them. They sometimes sing and dance and also run around the volunteers, making them feel like celebrities. In all this fun, the volunteers perform their tasks of imparting knowledge or some useful tricks and tips for the kids to live in their future.
And when it’s time to leave, the children bundle up near the gates, waving goodbye and requesting the volunteers to make another trip soon. The attachment that the kids portray while farewell, or when they recognize the volunteers on their next trip (after weeks), make the latter wanting to visit again.
The students volunteer to make the kids’ future a better place to live in. The simple principle being it wouldn’t hurt to shed out a torn piece of clothing from a packed suitcase. And when the bus leaves the school, apart from the fun in the eyes of the kids, there’s a smile on the face of the volunteers and the happiness of the memories in their heart.
-Astha Srivastava (IPM16)