A special event for volunteers – Bhumi Mumbai Adventure Race

One fine evening over a glass of water, Bhumi Coordinators decided to do Bhumi Mumbai Adventure Race (BMAR) instead of BPL. And it was successfully conducted on 17 June 2017.

The agenda of the event was to provide Mumbai Volunteers a platform to explore the heritage, history and culture of Mumbai along with a platform to raise awareness about Bhumi’s social initiatives and the importance of volunteerism. Also it was a unique opportunity to collaborate with volunteers from the other projects and to imbibe strategizing and team building.

It was a team-based event knitted like a treasure hunt with three driving factors:

  • Clues for Site Hopping
  • On Spot activities
  • Luck-by-chance

10 teams (4 in a team) participated in the event; all the teams brewed with excitement during the entire day. The event kick started with a word puzzle. As and when the teams completed the puzzle, we handed over the hunt sheet with all clues to solve.

The enthusiastic teams started solving the clues and scampered to different locations. The onus was on the team to ensure they make use of only public transport, as brownie points would be given to the teams showing train/bus tickets. WhatsApp group was created for each of the team and it was kind of a lifeline for them. Every hour they would receive a new task and they had to send a pic/video of it.

Tasks given to the teams:

  • Register 6 strangers for Bhumi -100 points for each registration
  • Feed 2 stray dogs – 200 points
  • Give a note of thanks along with a bottle of water to Traffic Cops
  • Flip a bottle (Luck By Chance)

Finally the task was to the jury to tally final score sheet. The teams were getting impatient wanting to know if they had made it to the top two. It was a very close competition and all teams did exceptionally well. The runners up group had Mumbai’s LEM PC and her friends, while the winning team was a mixed group of existing volunteers and new prospective volunteers.

The Father of Our Lady’s Home handed over the certificates and medals to the winners. Participants came up giving a positive feedback about the event, and expressed how they would like to support Bhumi further. Cheers to the organizing committee for making this event a super success.

Interview with vivek rajan

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Hi; first of all congrats for your married life. Since your life is so full of Bhumi volunteering; with your partner also being a Bhumi volunteer; can you tell us; how and when you joined Bhumi? And a few words about you?

Thank you!!I was born in the sceni district of Kanyakumari, as the only son to my parents. I soon shifted my base to Chennai where I had my Schooling. It was in 6th standard at my school I met the future Mrs.Vivek. After school I joined A GOVT COLLEGE at Chennai (CEG, Anna University) and did my B.E, Mechanical there. My destiny pushed me to Trichy despite job offers at ASCENDAS & TIDEL PARK; Then I joined the typical SARKARI-BABU company; “BHEL” like any other Indian in 2009. To a lot of people, a “turning point” would be an incident which leads to something better or bad in their lives. I too had one such incident on the night of June 09 of 2011 at Trichy, when I met with an accident. But i had no idea while I was literally being turned inside out on a hospital’s operating table.

After that harrowing experience, I had loads of time to introspect. A lot of questions popped up in my mind, like, “Will my death create any loss to someone; other than my family & friends?”

The answer was “no” and It really put me down. As always; I turned to the one with answers to all my problems, my best half- Rumana; she then explained about Bhumi and told that it would really be an up-lifting experience if I engaged myself in it. I was like “why not?” and registered myself for the orientation on june-13 after getting my feet back, (literally: p) been a Bhumian from then!!

 That’s inspiring and romantic too; 😉 Hearing so much on your choice of Bhumi there has to be a lot of moments; which are close to your heart… Can you share a few with us?  

 After starting this year’s Lakshya session, I had to visit the center; alone; for some follow-up work; I met with a champ to ask about the whereabouts of the warden. Since I had forgotten his name; I asked him “What is your name?”
He replied ‘”Vivek Anna, My name is Arjun. You and other annas & akkas have visited us only once but we will never forget your names, just try not to forget ours”
From that day I tried my best to be regular to my sessions and remember the kids ‘by name’.
After my marriage I visited the kids accompanied with my wife. They immediately swarmed around us and started congratulating. They also sang some songs in Tamil wishing both of us.
My wife’s only question was what did you do for these kids? The answer was “I am yet to start.”

You have started so much inside us; can you share a few words on how much being a mentor cum volunteer in Bhumi helped you in your life?

As i told you before, being the only child of working parents, I used to find solitude as my best companion. It made me a bit of an introvert. Being a mentor, is a chance to open up and test my latent communication skills. And being with mentors of my age group or older (pun intended 🙂 ) it also helped build my social skills

What are the things that you love and despise in Bhumi?

In Bhumi: I love the informal way of working; having seriousness where it is needed and the sense of belonging among all volunteers. Most of all the high level of maturity of all volunteers; who are in their teens. As in Despise; I despise the fact that there is nothing to hate.

What is your view and perspective on volunteering? And finally anything you want to share to us to enhance our volunteering experience?

Volunteering was something innate in the Indian Culture; it is slowly being eroded in this modern era. Very few people get to say that “I am back” in Billa Ajith style after facing a round and then get to realize the need to better oneself  in version 2.0 like I did.
So as youngsters we should embrace this gift of life & always remember the words of Frost

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Volunteer Tribute – Vijayalakshmi

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Footprints Vijayalaksmi (Viji akka) has left on the sands of time for us.

She has inspired mostly everyone in the first meet thereby standing as an epitome of the anecdote: ” First Impression is always the best impression” ; Just as time wishes to take you a bit farther (Chennai is just 5 hours from here :P) away from us we would like to take a look on the memories that you have left behind with us as a token of love.

Words of a few Volunteers:

Arshath: On The very first day her presence in the home; an hour before schedule showed her true love and interest. Unfortunately on the very same day, I was a quarter hour late….!!  On the very first day, in spite of me being late, she started calling me THAMBI…!!  And then on, whenever I address her, she used to say, SOLLUDA THAMBI….. And the main thing which inspired us a lot was that, she came for PUDHUKOTTAI, travelling an hour and half for session every week.  Her experience with life, has always been a lesson to both volunteers, and the kids…!!  She as a Brave woman, Patriotic Indian, Loving sister, caring friend, Banging initiator and a strong, enthusiastic leading volunteer, has always inspired us…!!! Today, if Lakshya team in Trichy stands strong in volunteer bonding, then, it is only because of this sister of mine…!!!… Sorry… it’s our Sister…!!!… She is not too old….. She has just got her course completion certificate in under graduation….!!!…  Yep….It is our Vijayalakshmi (VIJI – YA LAKSHYAN) akka…!!!…..

Kavitha: She is the best sister I have come across in my life. She is that one determined woman who is firm and confident. That was how I met her; in our first meet I offered her a ride back from session; we went to collect a few parcels on our way. We were made to juggle between two dispatch centers based on misleading information. On losing our temper; we had an argument with the staff; that incident clearly showed her confidence level. I was inspired by her from that moment on. She is just too caring and compassionate a person. Her dedication is simply clear every time she travels such a long distance for every session. She never ceases to inspire me.

Ashwin: A person who is just caring on anybody who is in her circle. Her life experiences shared during various moments just push us to set up more goals in life and struggle to reach them. She has created a benchmark for us to move past not achieve because she has achieved it already. She accommodates on her fellows so much. She is such a sport to be with. We would miss you a lot. Just as her grandfather’s words inspired her; her acts inspire us.

Volunteer Interview – Yaswanth

Hi, Yaswanth; can you tell us about yourself and brief us on how you joined Bhumi?

Hi I am Yaswanth from Anna Nagar, Chennai; I’m an inventory coordinator of Lakshya Project in Kolathur centre. I’m working in TCS Chennai; and I was introduced to Bhumi by my College NSS Unit friends who are active volunteers of Bhumi. Then just as every other person I attended an orientation and stuff; and I have been in Bhumi for past 2-3 months.Yaswanth

 

So in this 2-3 months journey with Bhumi what do u like about it?

The organizational structure; a non-profit N.G.O. with such a well planned structure made me like it. The strategizing perspective is awesome; even being simple Group Activities in centers are well planned in pre-planning sessions including the inventories; and the final documentation.

And the Commitment of other volunteers; all these together become a motivational factor encouraging fellow volunteers. Even after these days the dedication of the founder and old volunteers is very good.

 

Is there any particular volunteer (No Restrictions) who has inspired you? If yes, who is that and what trait in the person was the reason?

Yes. It is Raghu. Being an anchor he organizes the whole team well. He is very compassionate and resorts to ask all volunteers their opinions on howsoever small the issue may be. That and the socializing attitude of Raghu and Sri Vidya towards the kids and fellow volunteers is a motivational factor for me and I feel I have to improve a bit on the socializing factor; so that way they inspire me.

 

In that case; do you have any memorable moments as a volunteer? If so, can you share it with us?    

A lot; I remember the smiles of the kids back home; which is one big memorable moment for me. If you ask moments with the volunteers; we had a planning session in Valluvar Kottam Park and then later joined for a chat in a nearby juice shop. There are a few facebook moments too. Some funny stories on how inventories were collected in the past etc… I miss Nakshatra and the mentor training session too much. Because I was not available on Sunday; and since the training couldn’t be made on Saturday and Sunday; as per my request; I had to attend only the online version of it. Yet I miss those times a lot. But making the kids happy is the most memorable moment.

 

Just like that Request; do you have any Suggestions, opinions, appreciations you want to share with Bhumi as a whole?       

All that I want to share is as a Lakshya volunteer of Kolathur centre; I have got an opportunity to speak with only those volunteers who have visited my centre; either to conduct sessions or watch them. Since I missed Nakshatra and I haven’t visited the other centers. We in our centre are planning for a help from the speak-out team in conducting English classes. So my suggestion would be a better inter communication platform for volunteers across projects; even across lakshyans.

 

Have you heard of Ripples? If yes, do you read it?

Yes I do. I even sent an article for ripples and it is yet not published. I just dunno why?

 

Since we get more than required articles for a particular month we put on hold a few articles and it just takes some time in getting published. I hope your article will soon adorn our pages. Do you have any suggestions for ripples?

Actually why doesn’t Ripples have a facebook group or something to get these feedback from us. One such group will also increase the communication factor said earlier. We will also respond there and have constructive discussions on the newsletter.

 

Well there are few closed facebook groups for the inter-volunteer communication purpose and all are welcome to communicate anything related to the projects, anytime. We have a dedicated discussion forum for ripples-team; as with the feedbacks you can always send them to the ripples team via the dedicated link provided; if you any doubts; you can feel free to contact the team anytime. So it is only in the way you choose to respond. This is just a fact I felt sharing and it was great time speaking with you Thank you.

(A hearty laugh) Thank you. I just got what you meant. So I now understand that a closed group alone could not serve the purpose. It was great time talking to you too. Bye.

 (P.S. – Had you not said that you are from Anna Nagar; I would have concluded that you don’t know Tamil. Your accent was like that of a North-Indian. 🙂 )       

 

Volunteer Interview – Priyanka Sharma

Hi Priyanka , tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello! I am a goon straight from Bihar. To keep me on right path, my parents made me finish schooling from Madhya Pradesh (NCL). Have done Maths Hons from Patna and then MBA from Chennai. After finishing all studies Volunteer interviewpossible in my life, 2 years ago I finally found nirvana in Bangalore! Parents took me out of Bihar but they couldn’t take Bihar out of me ;-). Interesting facts about me: I am a pure non-veggie/mad/adventurous/talkative/over-enthusiastic/bindaas-yet-caring Bihari Brahmin.

How and when did you get associated with Bhumi?

My first involvement started with Siragugal for 2 years in Chennai as a D-day volunteer. Second one was quite dramatic and filmy! After shifting to Bangalore, in mid 2011 suddenly one day I heard someone talking about Bhumi fest (I wasn’t aware then that it was renamed Nakshatra) in my office cafeteria. I enquired and found that Bhumi is here in Bangalore as well. I got one contact also but somehow wasn’t able to reach! And then one day while doing timepass on Facebook, one of my MBA College seniors, who have been involved with Bhumi, again started Bhumi’s topic. I told him the whole incident. He only asked me if I were genuinely interested and if I could remain committed enough. I gave him assurance and in return he gave me direct entry into Bhumi. I went to battle-field (first session of Lakshya) first and then attended basic training (orientation) 😉

What is it that keeps you going along this journey?

Only thing that overwhelms me is the joy I feel when all kids come running and start talking simultaneously in English mixed with local language. That moment language doesn’t seem to be a barrier to the expression of happiness they want to show after seeing me there. You definitely feel that you do hold some importance in their life and for some time you are outside the fake n formal corporate world. Also they do give you chance to relive your golden childhood times!

Why did you decide to join the Lakshya programme?

Lakshya aims for over-all personality development. Like we know “Survival of the fittest”, Lakshya is there to groom kids to become fit enough to survive in today’s competitive world we live in. Our school curriculum concentrates majorly on studying and put hardly any effort for child’s personal grooming. But when we see around us apart from good score card, it’s essential to have good communication skills, leadership skills etc. This is what Lakshya aims to do and these unique features excited me to be part of Lakshya! Apart from teaching kids we also get a chance to play and enjoy every weekend which normally we wouldn’t be able to do. Some physical and mental activity in this rather stagnant society is an added advantage for me!

What or who inspired you to start volunteering?

During my graduation days, I came across one lady who was trying to feed her family by doing house chores when her husband was busy drinking and beating her. He never cared for her or his own kids. I saw her at times with beating marks on her body. But all she cared about was education and food for her kids. I was shocked to see this and yet inspired by her strength. The least I could do at that time was to help those kids in studies and got some donations for kids like them from my college. This started my volunteering career you can say!

What is it that you enjoy the most at Bhumi/Lakshya?

I enjoy meeting different kind of people through Bhumi and the most is playing and having care-free time with kids every weekend! Last year somehow I was only interacting with all Lakshya volunteers but this year during Nakshatra preparations got to know so many other volunteers and realized how much I missed in one whole year. Plus different volunteers from other projects motivate you too!

How has Bhumi affected your life?

Bhumi has given me platform to do some good for our society. It is definitely helping me in becoming a good leader and a good citizen. I always believed in one saying “We should try giving back to society what we earn from it!” Bhumi is the medium which is helping me in my belief. End of every weekend I feel satisfied for using sometime for good cause!

Who are your favourite Lakshyans?

Every volunteer is unique in their own ways. From new team, for instance I am inspired by Madhu for her involvement n leadership, chethna and Shweta for their dedication. Actually all the new volunteers with whom I have interacted till now are great people and I hope this year we actually kick start Lakshya and achieve what it is supposed to!

Your biggest dream:

As of now, I only dream to make Lakshya successful in Bangalore and make it grow bigger and bigger by every year. Apart from this, like every child I also want to do things to make my parents feel proud on me. I guess all dreams possible can be summed into this! 🙂

Tell us a little bit about your life outside of Bhumi.

Life outside Bhumi is like everyone else’s. Sleeping late, getting up late, go to office once in a while for some time pass ;-), reading novels, watching movies, and miss my mom’s food everyday! This correctly sums-up my day-2-day life!

Which is your favourite hangout spot in the city of Banglore?

For eating its Barbeque nation, for movies and shopping its Meenaxi mall, to have time pass it’s my office and the best hangout spot is my bed 😀

Your message to fellow volunteers:

We might be volunteering only for couple of hours every weekend but even that requires utmost dedication and commitment from our side! All that kids need from us is our time and our attention. Smile on their face is the return gift we are getting and believe me it’s very satisfying. 🙂 Let’s rock!