This past fall most residents of Morgantown, WV had never heard of Vibha. I was new in the town and was faced with the challenge of finding a medium to spread awareness about Vibha. It took a lot of brainstorming to come up with an idea of meaningfully contributing to Vibha, being away from any of Vibha’s action centers.
In October, I found out about a Diwali event organized by the students of West Virginia University.I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to set up a Vibha booth! My desperate efforts of contacting the event management committee started. Initially they refused as they could only allow student based organizations to be promoted; Vibha is not one of them. But faith hadn’t lost yet and my phone rang. The president of the Indian Student Association, was on the other end and told me that he has already arranged for a table for me to showcase Vibha. Not only that, he also told me about another cultural event taking place after a week, for which also he managed to reserve a table for Vibha. Now there was very limited time to prepare for the booth. Mr. Keyur Shah, one of the Vibha Directors of Vibha, managed to mail all the required things, a donation box, flyers, Vibha booklets, calendars, etc to me in time.
And then the big day arrived. I was very excited and nervous at the same time as it was the first time the fundraiser was planned in a town where people were unaware of Vibha. It took me with a surprise that the people knew about many other NGOs, AIDs; but not Vibha. During the Diwali event, people stopped by and asked questions about Vibha, its work, and its projects. Many of them donated to the great cause, others were just curious to know. I sensed at the end of the event, that since people in the town are not aware of Vibha, they were a bit skeptical and hesitant in giving any donations.
After a week, during the second event, the feelings were the same and I thought Vibha needs to be showcased more in order to bring credibility to the organization. Many people stopped by the booth, and were keen to know more about the organization and how to become patrons.
Thus, both the events were not the best attempt in terms of fundraising but I managed to exhibit Vibha, which I realized was very important in beginning to raise awareness, in Morgantown, about its mission and work across India and the United States.