The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others - Mahatma Gandhi
Young people learn the most by direct experiences and therefore it is important to give students access to volunteering opportunities. These opportunities, linked to their curriculum (directly or indirectly), offer unique and integrated exposure to the ethos of community service. The value of embedding volunteerism in liberal education can be manifold and beyond altruism. One of the objectives of including community service as a part of the Undergraduate Programme is to build a value for action in the lives of our students. This is done through a mandatory course, Engagement with Society, organised through the Student Volunteer Programme at Ahmedabad University. The Student Volunteer Programme aims to provide the entire student community with an intense, authentic and meaningful experience in the act of giving, voluntary service, and citizenship.
The Student Volunteer Programme engages with NGOs and other organisations to identify volunteering opportunities for our students. Students are introduced to these organisations and their work and choose a project to work on. Alternatively, a student can identify an organisation and project on her own to complete her volunteerism requirement.
The Student Volunteer Programme is experiential and reflective by design. The projects help students discover their skills and interests in a real-world context. Working on projects they gain valuable problem-solving, team building, and communication skills. The periodic discussions and written reflections on their experiences provide them with an understanding of societal issues and possible solutions. For some students this exposure may also influence future career decisions.
The Student Volunteer Programme has worked with the High on Life Foundation (anti-drug addiction campaigning), Humankind (creating teaching aids and conducting sessions for students from under-resourced schools), Khoj Museum (science education), Prabhat Education Foundation (special needs education), GIAN (grassroots innovations) and TIDE Foundation (generating teaching materials), among other non-profit organisations in Ahmedabad.
Integrated Master of Science
Volunteered for Apne Aap’s 1 Million Meals campaign. Apne Aap, a grassroots organisation that empowers marginalised girls and women to resist and end sex trafficking, started the 1MillionMeals campaign during Covid to ensure that 10,000 excluded women and children get food for at least 100 days.
“Volunteering with Apne Aap: 1 Million Meals has been an enlightening experience. I realised how oblivious I had been to the struggles that people belonging to the lower strata of society are facing because of Covid. It also made me sensitive to topics like sex trafficking and prostitution, which are often not discussed openly because of the stigma attached. Women don’t choose prostitution, they are simply choosing survival. To contribute to the cause effectively I had to empathise with the people who have suffered so that I could communicate their struggles better and, at the same time, appreciate all of the work that Apne Aap: 1 Million Meals has done for these women.
Volunteering helped me gain new skills like video editing and graphic designing. It also helped me gain confidence as it gave me the opportunity to do something I had never done before and justify it effectively. The assigned tasks were challenging but stimulating. The experience and the skills acquired will remain with me for the long run. Even though my role might have been minimal, I am glad I could contribute to a sensitive social cause. The act of volunteering itself gave me a sense of purpose and meaning.”
Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours)
Volunteered for Upraant, a foundation that wants to reduce 50 per cent of the global carbon footprint by creating responsible circular societies with an active engagement of five lakh women from slums.
“It has been an amazing experience to work at the Upraant foundation and contribute to the upliftment of women from the slums. It is fascinating to watch women make products out of waste material. They inspire me to keep smiling and working with enthusiasm, come what may. It’s a privilege to contribute my bit to these women. The spirit of the women at Upraant is the most fascinating thing for me.”
Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering
Volunteered for Prabhat Education Foundation that works in Ahmedabad and around to help adults and children with special needs achieve their potential.
“Before joining Prabhat Foundation, I hadn't done any social work or engaged with any NGO. It has been a privilege to work with the Foundation, which has served and educated people and children with special needs and helped them achieve their full potential. The content we prepared for the Prabhat foundation helped us learn about differently-abled people. We learned about their daily problems and several treatments that can help make their life easier on a daily basis. Volunteering affected me in a very positive way. I think I have 'grown’ as a person through volunteering. When you’re involved in something as important as human life, there is a real sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Our University provided us exemplary learning through academics and by pushing us out of our comfort zones through voluntarism. You realise that not everything needs to be money-driven, and that there are other, far important things in life. I'll try to engage more in voluntarism whenever I have the chance.”
Bachelor of Technology
As a part of the Volunteering Programme at Ahmedabad University, I got a wonderful opportunity to work with Prabhat Education Foundation. At Prabhat Foundation, I got to work for children, both school-going children and children with special needs who are not going to mainstream schools but are in Prabhat learning centres where they are trying to help the less privileged in many ways including education, health, and financial support. They teach children mainly of age 10-15 years old. There are many things that I learned while working with Prabhat Foundation, like interpersonal and communication skills, time management, team building, and coordination. It was an extremely enriching and fulfilling experience working at the Prabhat Foundation as a part of the Volunteering Programme.
Bachelor of Business Administration
It is not easy to find words to describe what I have experienced while volunteering at Khoj Museum as a part of the Volunteerism Programme at Ahmedabad University. Khoj allowed us to work, develop, and share ideas for making the world a better place to live in. My team decided to work for street waste management and we worked on introducing the ‘little dumpsters'. We aimed to clean the city by taking little steps which might make a huge impact over a period of time and with the cooperation of people. The idea was to present little dumpsters made out of recycled tins, cans, and bottles which can be converted creatively into little bins that can be kept in cars and thus keep people away from throwing the waste out of the windows. Khoj and the team helped us in guiding throughout the volunteering programme, understand our project requirements, and helping us with inputs on feasible solutions.
Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
I worked as a coordinator for the Together in Development and Education (India wing) Foundation project The project's focus was to support the primary school teachers with creating content on COVID related topics that can be used on social media based platforms. It was an enriching experience to work with this organisation as there were people from different organisations and academic institutes, which enabled me to enhance my communication and persuasion skills. The volunteering program by the University enabled students to explore their qualities and potential beyond academics. It allowed students to practically apply what is being taught in various courses.