Connecting the Dots …

It’s Sunday night and I’m fighting to clean up my e-mail inbox filled with Vibha e-mails. The Vibha budget for 2010 is still not complete, and I have an e-mail from March 2009 which I haven’t removed from my inbox because that’s the only way I won’t forget it. I am sure the other Vibha volunteers including executive committee members, action center coordinators, and event leaders are all trying to catch up with their own version of  “Vibha Things To Do List”.  Some spend countless hours reviewing project proposals, selecting projects for funding, talking to grass root organization leaders, and following up with project monitors on the ground.  For others, the list does not contain anything related to children’s education, health care, vocational training or eliminating child labor. It maybe about the budget for the next event, the list of Indian grocery stores to put an upcoming event’s poster, the design for a Dream Mile poster or even about how to get another entry for Kalakaar.

During the last booth at an Indian grocery store, the person with three grocery bags on each hand managed to run away from you thinking you were asking him for donations, but you didn’t give up. You stood there for another two hours and gave out as many tri-folds as you can.

So WHY DO WE VOLUNTEER? ..when most of our Vibha activities are not directly involved with educating a child or providing a meal to that child in need? Why do we spend hundreds of hours organizing events and booths?  Apart from one or two days during our hectic India trips, we don’t get to see or feel first hand what happens at the projects we support.  Yet we continue to volunteer for days, weeks, months and years.  WHY?…Because we all believe that we can bring a positive difference to the millions of children in need. It doesn’t matter how far we are from the cause, yet we have the ability to make big changes.

After 9 years of booths, publicity and event management, a volunteer recently got an opportunity to teach at a school Vibha supports. It was an amazing experience for her. Never in her 9 years of volunteering did she experience this type of satisfaction.  At the same time, it was the moment she realized her 9 years of efforts were all worth it. It is easy to connect the dots backwards but it takes quite a lot of courage to do it in the other direction. Five years ago, how many of us would have imagined that we can get government schools in an entire school district to perform way above average?

We may not be able to visualize how that flier we handed out at the booth will help a child in need, but I am sure, several years from now it will be an easy task to connect the dots backwards.

Be proud that you are volunteering for a great cause !!!!!

Rajesh Haridas is the Chief Operating Officer for Vibha.

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