Voluntary Work.

I have had limited experience of volunteer work but those in which I was involved were highly satisfying except one where I had to quit as it was affecting my sanity.

The first exercise that I was involved in was way back in the mid seventies when I was a member of the local Lions Club and we launched a project to provide houses for poor workers with their own plots of land but, on which they could only build huts. I was given the responsibility to provide all the material for one such person who had inherited a small piece of land but did not have the wherewithal to build a house on it. I successfully completed the project by persuading building material suppliers to part with some materials and the recipient managed the labour himself. He is still in touch with me and his grand children now are successful professionals.

The next project that I was involved in was what we call shramdhaan here. It is a composite Sanskrit word containing two parts; shram meaning physical labour and dhaan meaning contribution. It was in the mid nineties after we had moved into our home where we now live. The neighbourhood had a plot of land earmarked for a park but the municipal authorities had not done anything to develop it. The local community association decided to plant a garden there and that is what happened with many residents contributing their labour to clear brush and plant flowering bushes and trees as well as laying down a walking / jogging path. Subsequently, the Municipal Corporation also contributed in various ways and today that park is among the best in Pune.

By the early part of this century, I had retired from business life and was a full time caregiver for my late wife who needed such care. A friend suggested that I become the Honorary Secretary of the local chapter of The Multiple Sclerosis Society Of India which had its office just about a hundred meters across the road from my residence. I did for a year and learnt a great deal about the disease, initiated many programmes for the patients and to raise funds. I also visited many patients to check on the utilisation of funds and other assistance provided to patients and came across instances of great heroism on the side of families of the patients and also the exact opposite of cruelty and neglect. The latter was the most heart breaking to see such human depravity and it finally drove me to quit in disgust. I was simply not able to handle the emotional drainage that such visits caused.

After that experience with MS, one of the local Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, we have quite a few of them, requested me to volunteer to mentor young entrepreneurs who it was funding to set up or expand existing businesses. I was given two mentees in the business that I had some knowledge of and I happily mentored both who, today are very successful businessmen and in regular touch with me. This gave me the greatest satisfaction of all the voluntary work that I have undertaken as, both are from the lowest economic and social strata and to help them navigate the world of banks, businesses, employees etc was simply amazing. If proof is needed that successful businessmen are not necessarily born but, can be made, these two bear that witness.

In the process of mentoring these two young men, I also got first hand experience of the seedy side of our local politics about which, the less said the better.

As my readers know, I have been a serious practitioner of Vipassana Meditation and apart from attending many ten day camps, I had also volunteered my services during camps for others and one such service camp was the most satisfying as I managed a group of totally blind young students who attended one such camp. That experience exposed me to the world of blind people like no amount of reading could have done.

My son and daughter in law are both deeply involved in animal welfare activities and their involvement spills over to my having to do something or the other too. My physical condition does not permit me to be more active though it gives me great satisfaction to see these two so committed and effective.

To sum up, I have had varied experiences but nothing on a life long basis. While I was involved, it was satisfying except towards the end of my stint with MS. I can’t think of getting involved in anything any more.

This is my contribution to this week’s 2 on 1 Friday blog post. Please go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same subject. Thank you.

25 thoughts on “Voluntary Work.”

  1. I once volunteered for the National Asthma Campaign in London. I enjoyed it for quite a while but in the end it felt like they were using me. They could have paid someone instead – they were flush with money – but a volunteer cost them nothing. So I left feeling a bit cheated. And now I’ve got very used to retirement, I’m not keen to volunteer for anything that resembles a paid job!

    1. I am not at all surprised. Apart from what I have written in my post, I also felt that the Managing Committee was using the forum as a tea party gathering to generate some topics that can be talked about in other tea parties. They needed someone like me to bear the brunt of the frontline work.

  2. I do volunteer in many arenas which I prefer not to speak about. Being humble is good for me.

    But I did found a library, still going strong, and a community garden, ditto.

    I was also involved in homelessness in TO, getting street people employed in small capacities for confidence and self-respect, etc, a very slow frustrating process but 1 success out of 10 would be a huge cause for celebration.

    More I can’t think of right now or talk about. But some were utterly devastating and debilitating.

    I am very involved in rights for senior women at the moment. A good cause tho heartbreaking also.

    Wisewebwoman recently posted..Words for Wednesday 5/ 22/2019

    1. I have been following your blog posts for quite some time now and am aware of how much voluntary work that you have been doing for your local community. It is amazing that you continue to despite your health problems. I salute you.

  3. I love the idea of a park established by the local community, so much better than an abandoned and disused block.

  4. wow Rummy. what lasting and beautiful testaments to your work.
    that park is amazing. and to think you were responsible in it being made.
    that must give you a strange and happy feeling all together!
    and all the other wonderful things you accomplished. you should be proud.

  5. By the grace of God, in my Govt. service, got the opportunity as Supervisor of Beggars Home for three years. Did the job to the fullest satisfaction. Thereafter, foreign adoptions 8 years. Now, helping couples to unite or separate instead of sufferings under the same roof.

  6. Meant to say, the park looks wonderful. Good to see a neglected piece of land being turned into a beautiful local amenity. And good that so many people wanted to contribute to the make-over.

    1. Although I am now inactive in the Residents’ Association, my son and daughter in love are both very active and am quite proud of all that they do for the community.

  7. Looks like we made natural choices in our volunteerinbg – you business related and me sports related. I think we also did reasonable amounts considering lives how busy our lives were.

  8. You certainly have made some worthwhile contributions to bettering the world for your having been in it. Formal or organizational volunteer work I’ve done has been limited, more in line with communication involving non-English speakers. Any efforts in other areas were auxiliary to my professional work.

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