Vibha Youth Volunteers- their testimonies and achievements… By Diksha Srishyla

Vibha is a 100% volunteer driven organization and youth volunteers are integral part of it. We decided to take experience accounts from a few of these young volunteers, who are based in Georgia and New Jersey. You will read, below, 7 inspiring stories about what these young volunteers would like to say about their experience with Vibha and also a couple of stories of their achievements.

Keya Parikh (Northview High School, Vibha School Club President, Johns Creek, GA)-   “My journey with Vibha started seven years ago, when I was introduced to Dream Mile by a neighbor. During my first Dream Mile, KeyaI remember being thoroughly impressed by how smoothly the event ran on the backs of volunteers. Nearly a year later, I went to my first Vibha meeting, and officially became a Vibha volunteer. It’s been an unforgettable seven years now, and I could not be more grateful for the opportunities I have had, the people I have gotten to work with, and the memories I have made as a Vibha Youth member and leader.

When I attended my first few Vibha Youth meetings as a freshman, I stayed in the shadows of upperclassmen who were high school chapter leaders with years of experience. I absorbed, I grew, and eventually, I was surprised to find myself in the position of those upperclassmen, as Northview High School’s Vibha club president, but more importantly, as someone who could be trusted to be part of moving Vibha Youth forward.

Without a doubt, the last year as a Vibha volunteer has been the most challenging, exciting, and rewarding, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my peers and mentors. I have to give a huge shout out to Punam Aunty, who became the Vibha Atlanta Youth Coordinator at a time when many high school chapters were undergoing leadership changes and trying to grow. And with her unwavering support and interest in helping, all of us excel. I am proud to have been a part of the unprecedented growth our Vibha Youth chapter has seen. I have gotten the opportunity to work with numerous organizations to provide volunteer opportunities and support local communities, to collaborate with adult leadership, and to mentor and support my peers.

As I move on to the next chapter in my life, I look back fondly at the sense of family and belonging that Vibha has offered me, one that I never saw coming but now consider one of the best aspects of my high school career. Thank you Vibha for teaching me how to lead, how to support, and most notably, how to serve.”

Siya Singh (Denmark High School, Active Vibha Youth Club Member, Alpharetta, GA)-   “Being a Vibha Youth active member gave me an opportunity to see the organization’s impact in the local communities. In March, because of the pandemic the entire state of Georgia school’s learning moved to online classes rather than in person. I was sad and also angry that I will miss my friends and my soccer games. But the thought of losing my studies because of onlineSiya learning never came into my mind. The shiny pink MacBook laptop had always been sitting in my room. I never thought it as a luxury, on the contrary, it felt like part of my learning like a pen or pencil. So, handing out laptops for ICS school was eye opening on the privilege I didn’t know I had. ICS is a Title 1 public charter school in Dekalb county. During one of the youth meetings, I came to know that Vibha has collaborated with Power my Learning and has planned to donate laptops to these kids. Since my mom was the part of the team, I immediately jumped in to helping the cause. It was rewarding to see the relief on these kids’ faces when they received their laptops because there was one stress leaving from their mind. Most of the times when we donate money or volunteer, we never see the direct impact but seeing children in my own community not having the same access to technology really puts things in perspective.

Although, it was hard to maintain social distancing and to take proper safety precautions, but it still was an enjoyable experience. This event inspired me so much that now I’m a part of the team who delivered food to 26 families from the ICS school who need help.

I would highly encourage other youth my age to do something similar because it really puts life in perspective and changes the way you look at the luxuries in life.”

Aryan Jain and Abrar Chowdhury (Chattahoochee High School, Active Vibha Youth Club Member, Johns Creek, GA)-   “The idea to restart the Vibha chapter at Chattahoochee High School had come to me in the summer of last year. After an eye-opening trip to India where I witnessed terrible situations of children across the country, I wanted to start an impactful organization that could help these aryan abrarunderprivileged kids reach their full potential. That same summer, we decided to start fundraising through GoFundMe for Vibha and sharing it to all families and friends. By the end of the summer, we had raised upwards of $500.

Still unsure of the best place for the money to go, we finally received an answer when a few months later in November, a school in Atlanta for refugees was brought to our attention. This ICS (International Community School) school was on its last legs as it received very little government funding. The Vibha Youth Organization came together and decided to give the school a beautiful paint job makeover so the kids have something refreshing to come back to. Chattahoochee Vibha Action Center donated $300 for the paint and went to the school with numerous volunteers to spend a day painting the walls.

The support didn’t stop there. Fast forward to the present day. The families of these refugee children are out of jobs and don’t have enough money for food due to the ongoing pandemic. Vibha Chattahoochee has donated over $200 to help these families in need to help them get through these troubling times.

We have held many fundraisers including a Chipotle night that flourished with success because of our outstanding community. The support has been amazing with a record number of over 80 active members and hundreds of dollars raised from kind volunteers who strive to make the world a better place for these children.”

Sheena Deepak (Denmark High School, Vibha School Club Vice President, Alpharetta, GA)-   “Being in Vibha for these past two years of high school has been an amazing experience. Vibha Youth has allowed me to display my leadership skills in creating a successful club as well as helping our community. sheenaVolunteering has always been a passion of mine, and Vibha has given me the opportunity to connect with others who also want to do the same. Vibha has allowed me to meet new people and have fun experiences during volunteering. Through the Denmark High School Vibha club, I was able to be a part of planning an event, at the MSG Foundation, where our members and other Vibha Youth members volunteered. We helped put together food and supply baskets for people in need. I also was a part of volunteering at Vibha’s Dream Mile. We had to wake up at 5 am, but it was definitely worth it to see such a big event come together. I am excited to see what we can achieve during the upcoming years!”

Ashika Srivastava (Atlanta, GA)-   “When I first joined Vibha, I thought I was joining another volunteer organization to help my college resume, but it has become so much more than that. Some of the most exciting and enjoyable events in my life so far have been through Vibha. I look forward to volunteering, ashikaparticipating in more events and meeting new people at the Dream Mile every year. The mentors and peers that I have met through Vibha are truly an inspiration to me and I aspire to carry the same passion that they carry for Vibha. Through Vibha Youth, I’ve done some amazing things like painting decks for the International Community School, sorting toys for Foster Care, and planting trees with Trees Atlanta. I’ve learned so many important life skills like leadership, through planning and leading events like, food drives with my school club; and confidence, through being able to talk to different people about Vibha. I can’t wait to make many more memories through Vibha, and I encourage anyone with a passion for helping people to come and join us in our mission to create a brighter future for children.”

Roshan Patel (Active Member of Vibha Youth Club, New Jersey)-   “Numair first introduced me to Vibha and its mission during the summer before my eighth grade. I had a ton of free time on my hands and didn’t really have much to do. At the time, I knew Numair was a very active volunteer in the Vibha organization and reached out to him looking for a way to put my free time and energy to use. The next day, I met Keyur Uncle and learned more about what it meant to “Seed, Grow, and Scale.” When I first joined, I was assigned relatively simple jobs by Numair, ranging from scripting an Instagram post to selecting the best images to be used for a Twitter post. I originally saw volunteering with Vibha as an opportunity to use my free time for good and develop my skills along the way. However, it wasn’t until later that I truly understood the full impact of Vibha and its mission. I began to realize how lucky I was to have the educational resources and tools that I do and became more driven and motivated to meet the educational needs of underprivileged children in India. The more I volunteered with Vibha and listened to individual stories of these children who had their lives positively impacted by Vibha, the more excited I became about Vibha and everything it stands for.

Over the course of the 4+ years I have volunteered with Vibha, I have learned a lot, everything from how to design a flyer that grabs the attention of people to how to create an elevator pitch. As someone who was relatively introverted, I was especially anxious when it came to knock on a stranger’s door and talking to them about the upcoming 5K. However, I soon learned that the best way to learn was to dive right in. Initially I struggled and was disappointed by the “sorry I’m not interested” responses I got from people. As time progressed, and I continued to go door to door, I learned not only how to deal with failure, but also how to effectively communicate and garner people’s interest in Vibha. I began to appreciate the importance of posture, eye contact, and voice projection while communicating, and became much more effective at public speaking, a skill which I will continue to develop in future. Vibha also instilled in me the importance of public service and volunteering. Not only did I enjoy volunteering at the 5K, Blood Drive, and Vibe events, but I began to develop a more profound appreciation for what Vibha does and realized the importance of giving back to the less fortunate.

My message to other youth and their families would be to look for ways to create good in your communities, whether it be something as simple as picking up garbage in your local park or donating blood. For me, Vibha helped me channel my free time and see my skills be put to use. From my experience, I have seen that helping and giving back to the community also helped me in profound ways. Not only did I enjoy the feeling of giving back, but I also developed many “soft” skills that I will carry with me into the future. Surrounding myself with like-minded people with the mission of helping the less fortunate has been a very positive experience, and it was especially empowering to spend time with the Vibha volunteer community.”numair roshan

Numair Attaar (Active Member of Vibha Youth Club, New Jersey)-   “I first joined Vibha in middle school as part of their project management team and was charged with reviewing their active projects and managing fund allocation and distribution. As I became increasingly familiar with their project networks, Roshan and I were chosen to co-design the 25th-anniversary project summary book, through which I was fortunate to witness, capture, and portray the growth of the organization. Recognizing the wide-reaching and often life-changing impact Vibha was generating halfway around the world, a few of my friends and I took it upon ourselves to organize and harness local fundraising efforts and bolster the NY/NJ chapter’s commitment and contribution to Vibha’s global mission. Shortly thereafter, I took up the position of Youth Lead for the NY/NJ chapter and we formed a team of youth volunteers. I became truly invested after I volunteered as a teacher in the Corp India’s Mumbai center for underprivileged children. After bonding with the children directly benefiting from Vibha’s initiatives, I returned from this trip invigorated and energized to expand our reach and enhance our chapter’s role in advancing Vibha’s success.

What I’m most proud of as a volunteer is the impact my commitment has had on other volunteers. By immersing myself in Vibha’s mission and constantly pushing my friends and family to get involved, I discovered a whole new community and introduced them to the perks of community service. I was able to involve my friends, family, neighbors and school in the process, and in turn, they have had a tremendous impact on the community around us. I’m also extremely proud of the friendships I’ve created in the past six years. Without the absolutely crucial members of my team like Roshan and Sophia becoming some of my best friends and devoting themselves the way they have, none of our accomplishments would be possible.

My message to other youth is that through volunteer work and giving back in my community, I’ve learned and experienced things that most people don’t get the opportunity to until much later in life. I’ve learned my own strengths and weaknesses, made life-long friends, and explored different cultures while traveling the world because of community service. The work you do can truly make someone’s life better. The people you can benefit are just like you. Because of a few hours you take out of your week, they can go to school, see their friends, have food on the table and other basic things that we take for granted. To the families of these youth, I encourage you to get involved along with your children, make it an activity that you share a bond over like my dad and I. We’ve spent countless nights brainstorming Vibha projects, hours on important organizing calls and afternoons canvassing together that we still look forward to as our time to spend together.”

Vibha Youth Accomplishments from around the country

In 2019, our youth chapters had some notable achievements.

Vibha Youth Chapter Bay Area organized a Bake Sale on September 22nd, 2019 to raise funds for Vibha. Our youth baked the goodies and procured donations of baked goods from local grocery stores, ensuring to cater to diverse dietary preferences.Picture1

Vibha Youth Denmark worked with Vibha’s collaboration with ‘Power my learning’ to help distribute laptops and also to deliver food to 26 schools from the ICS school system. They reported feeling enlightened on getting a new perspective, seeing the direct impact of their work on the community.

Service Engagement by Vibha Youth Dallas- The focus of our youth volunteers in Dallas has been on engaging in local service efforts and programs. In 2019, they initiated long-term partnerships with some local charitable organizations. In addition, they planned their own fundraisers, blood drives, book drives and food drives and also assisted with Vibha flagship events Dream Mile and the Kite Flying Festival. To help with promotions and marketing, they have a regular quarterly appearance on the local radio station Radio Caravan. Let’s take a deeper look at what they accomplished in 2019, working alongside the Dallas adult volunteers:

 

Partnerships with non-profits:

  • Working with the Pale Blue Dot Foundation to deliver weekend enrichment activities and online training in English and Math to help 40 Bhutanese refugee families and their children assimilate into the US education system.
  • Working with Kinder Karma to read and record audio books for the visually impaired
  • Working with Feed my starving children and Tango Tab to pack sandwiches for the local homeless population and packing supply kits to send to Africa

 

Fundraisers:

  • ‘Fashion for a reason’ as part of the Kite Flying Festival
  • Summer Tennis Camp
  • Spring Plant Sale
  • Diwali Diya Sale
  • Summer book drive to benefit the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital
  • Thanksgiving Food Drive

 

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