A life where service for others is put as a priority, is a life well-lived. I believe social work does not mean changing thousands of lives at a time but being able to change one life that can inspire a thousand to change their lives and stand on their two feet without the dependence on a NGO or a community.
During the IB, CAS is a requirement but for me it seemed as a break from the workload and gave me a sense of enjoyment. We were provided various opportunities ranging from going to schools to clean ups. I think it is important to do both as by physically meeting people who come from different backgrounds and don’t use the same primary language as you, it gives you perspective. This perspective is what drives one to help and to ‘make a difference.’ On the other hand, by helping the environment by a beach clean up or mangroves clean up, you wouldn’t just be leaving an impact on the environment but the people living in that environment as well. Social work does not necessarily mean direct contact with individuals less fortunate than you but it means to be able to help the betterment of people’s lifestyle.
A couple of years ago, my mother came up with AIMS Foundation. It is a foundation predominantly based on the education of underprivileged female children. We have all been born with a silver spoon. We are all privileged. But the majority of Indians don’t have this privilege. They go to BMC, public schools which have a subpar education and if they are females, sometimes, don’t even have an education. We live in a male chauvinist country. By giving an education to underprivileged females so that when they are old enough to earn for themselves, they have all the skills to do so. I still remember that we had a student who wants to be a naval officer but the Indian navy doesn’t recruit females as often as they recruit males and hence, AIMS Foundation made a promise to her that we will support her till the very end.
I think the biggest challenge that any person would face, whether it is through school or it is an individual project is funding. To be able to help people, you need the means for it and to acquire the means for it, you need to know extremely influential people or need to sell your idea over other NGOs and other projects. The main way of collected funds is through innovative fundraisers. The fundraisers can vary from exhibitions to games to bake sales. No amount of money is too little as in the end even a 100 rupees can change someone’s life forever.
Another massive challenge faced by most NGOs is they lack the technical and organizational capacity to implement and fulfill their mission, and few are willing or able to invest in training for capacity building. Weak capacity affects fundraising ability, governance, leadership and technical areas. We have also faced this problem as we want to be able to educate a lot more girls but our means restricts us.
Being an NGO in India, the demand is so high that even a lot feels very little. Hence, the little you can do will make a huge difference and you will be able to see how that attracts so much more demand. You would face challenges doing any activity, business and hence, approach social work as an activity. An activity you want to succeed at and the reward is the smiles and the happiness you would bring to lives. Help others today and help yourself grow too!