Mind To Mindfulness – A Volunteer Program
Nirdhan, a section 8 not-for-profit charitable organisation was founded in 2011. We believe in empowering the poorest of the poor to boost incomes, create livelihoods and inspire permanent change.
Almost 70% of India’s population lives in rural areas, as a result there are vast numbers of people in the rural areas who fall below the poverty line. Nirdhan’s intention has always been to provide skills and training to Below Poverty Line families so that they may increase their disposable income and create small pools of capital which can be used by the family for various needs. A large number of the families we work with use this capital to start up other micro-enterprises so that they may pull themselves out of poverty over a period of 2 or 3 years. We are strong proponents of the age old saying that “if you feed a man you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life”.
We strongly believe that education and training are two important linchpins that help people pivot out of poverty. It is therefore the very design of our program to assist people to work their own way out of poverty so that they have sustainable and strong livelihoods which reduce their need for hand-outs or financial support. Creating such a program for rural areas has to primarily revolve around agriculture, all of our interventions are based on activities involving agriculture or animal husbandry and we at Nirdhan feel that not only is our model replicable but also scalable.
Concept- Volunteer Program:
We as an organisation feel that young people should be at the centre of the movement for creating awareness as well as poverty reduction going forward, and we have used this as the mainspring for structuring this volunteer program. We are certain that we shall be creating a deeper sense of true education and value with all the young people we work with.
While we believe that formal education is of utmost value, we are also of the belief that youngsters need to inculcate a sense of pride in their culture to successfully contribute to their family, society, country and above all towards humanity. At its very core this program is to leave volunteers with that extra bit of field experience and mould them into compassionate and complete individuals.
While it is important to have a core nucleus of activity which defines a charity there is ample space for embellishing a larger basket of offerings towards the community that we live in. In relation to this end as an organisation we have embarked upon significantly larger community outreach programs during the last year. In this vain we feel that Nirdhan’s activity should be expanded to include a program for school and college going youngsters so as to share not only the vision and concepts behind what we do but also sensitise young people to the manner in which a very large portion of our country lives and works so as also bring into sharp focus the very vast divide between those who are privileged and go to schools in the city and their families as compared to people who live in rural West Bengal.
Our volunteer program therefore seeks to bring into focus the following-
- The income gap between city and rural dwellers
- The access or lack thereof to facilities between village and urban dwellers
- The aspirational level of village dwellers
- The struggles faced by village dwellers
Any young person who chooses to be a volunteer as part of Nirdhan’s program will get not only a ring side view of the various activities we are involved in but will also be left with life changing lessons which we hope will engender permanent change in their out look to poverty, its alleviation and the need for all of us to be engaged in a deeper manner with people less fortunate than us.
The youth of today has time and again shown that they are a formidable crucible of change when it comes to finding solutions by providing out of the box ideas and methodologies for solving problems which have been perplexing mankind for a considerable time. By onboarding young people we are of the strong opinion that we will throw open the outlook of our organisation to fresh ideas, thought processes and unconventional problem solving methods which are truly needed by us to hone our cutting edge delivery of interventions to rural poor.
We hope to mentor these volunteers and given them an opportunity to create real change, for this we ask for a commitment of 6-8 hours per week; where they will also be required to attend one skill building session a week in a month long program. For older students, we offer 3 month long internship programs, which will be harder to attain as we will look at having 5 interns for a period of 3 months each.
While work hours can be flexible given students myriad other responsibilities, there will be a strict reporting structure in place and any student who does not comply with these regulations is liable to be removed from the program post appraisal.
All students will work in minimum teams of 3 comprising of 2 or more volunteers and one intern supervisor and will report to Nirdhan’s Liaison for this program.
The online programs will be facilitated by a network of young professionals or educators. We will look at covering a wide range of skills that are essential for non-profits and charitable organisations. These will include digital content creation, communication skills, fundraising, managerial and organisational skills to name a few.
At the end of this program we expect our volunteers not only to walk away with a certificate of commendation for their effort, alongside letters of recommendation but also valuable skills that they will pick up from not only through our weekly interactive sessions which we will currently hold online due to the COVID-19 Crisis but also field trips which will kick off post the lockdown.
More importantly perhaps, is that we hope to mould these youngsters into morally strong and socially responsible young adults so that they may become ideal working professionals in the years to come. We are confident that this experience leave will leave them with desirable attributes of character such as honesty, courage, self-confidence, integrity and resourcefulness and to foster creativity and cultivate positive attitudes with an open-minded approach for 21st century challenges. We are desirous that a sizable number of our volunteers will stay engaged with us as an organisation to further our goals by being Brand Champions, Spokespersons and educators on our remediation models.
The aim of this program is to enable young people to have a progressive transformation from being involved in community service to being harbingers to the groundswell of community responsibility. Through this program we look to connect with educational institutions who deeply believe in service to humanity while imparting all round character development and skilling of young people. We aspire to ignite the spark of curiosity, fan the flames of creativity and amplify the potential of leadership in young people so that they can be self-starters and take command of situations where application of skills, insights and experience are key. We are looking to transform young individuals to move from those with minds to those who have been empowered with mindfulness – and in doing so subscribe to the ancient Indian philosophy of “Vasudaiva Kutambakkam”. We look forward to welcoming you on this journey.
 * By “village dweller” we refer to the people Nirdhan serves vis- BPL families (BPL- Below Poverty Line)