The Bhumi Universe
“We don’t have to be great to start, we have to start to be great…!!!”
I lived and felt these favourite lines of mine on 18th August 2013…!!! The first Nakshatra for me having not even completed a year in Bhumi, there Gana Anna and Lakshmi Anna believing in me, gave on these fresh hands of mine the major, top, basic thing for nakshatra to be co-ordinated by me..!!! Yes,… They believed me & allowed to co-ordinate the Venue management of nakshatra 2013…!!! This made, me march to many people, who are the complete strangers and one word introduced and spoke well about me to them was BHUMI. Many times, not knowing the reference point, I had made many mistakes in the matter of currency numbers… But, Mayuran Anna, used to push me, giving me great experiences…!!! Planned at every nakshatra meet… Nirmal Anna, Raghavan Anna, Ramki Anna, used to sit around and used to list out the things they missed last year at Nakshtra !!! And Nirmal Anna was very surely quoting on that, U WILL BE GETTING ALOT OF SURPRISES, and only thing, was going on in me was, I should not have even a single thing from the things they missed last year. The day before the nakshatra, there at venue, checked, and having found, problems in number of events happening in rooms, changed the whole thing in such a way, that, every event and room suits with the number of kids participating. There went in the rescheduling on the Venue !!!… Change of classrooms. Vinoth Anna, helped alot…!!! On the day, Ashwin, made it a point to share every work of mine equally… And he and 3 of his friends did it..!!! Before the nakshatra could get over, Shyamla having insisted me to start on the work of rearranging the venue, many security volunteers by Robin, helped a lot…!!! Nakshatra..!!! the Motto, DREAM DISCOVER DAZZLE, exactly suits the volunteers work too..!!! A reason for a child’s smile…!! A reason for the labourers who work there for stage and speaker and cleaning works..!!! A reason for a volunteers’ satisfaction..!!! Wahh.. Even though the body was tired,… The soul shouted up a Yiiipppeeee when we finally had a Cheesy smiling photo !!!… Only after this day, I realised MY life..!!! It seems like, every soul around me is an angel sent by God to show me the right path !!!…. I am sure till such supportive people are around me, I will keep moving on my right path safely being a part if BHUMI family always !!!!
Arshath, City co-ordinator, Lakshya Trichy
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 possible 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!
In the project coordinator interview process, there was a question from Vaish that incase if you are selected as project coordinator you got to attend a 3 day leadership program in a hotel/resort in and around Chennai, can you ? Even after I said, yes, she again repeated the question – will you make yourself free for 3 days? I again repeated, yes, I can. I was thinking, who would say no for such a get-together!
On the day of the leadership conclave, while I was eating breakfast at home, I got SMS at 8.30am saying breakfast is available at resort so please come early – Romba paasakara pasangala irrukkangale !! On my way to venue, I got a call from Gana, where are you, as usual, I said, crossed Thiruvanmaiyur will reach in 5 mins. He said, ok come soon. I called him back, and said the truth I’m near OMR only, anything I need to do from this part of the city? He replied, dai go and pick Delhi volunteers from airport. Ok, now I got a good reason to hide my late; I drove to airport for the pick-up.
Entering the resort was a pleasant experience; that traditional hut shaped lodging paved new way to the experience of commingling with co-volunteers from other projects and cities. Entered into the presentation hall, with the expectation of seminars / presentations / PPTs – usual Microsoft window will appear for each presentation. Excitingly, doc and Vaish made all their presentations in PREZI – new tool to present your ideas, as it is, in your mind.
Now, came here the 3 strangers – Sujit, Gnani, and the other bald guy. Normally, I won’t have opinions about people or organization until I know them completely. Likewise, when these people introduced themselves, and started into the process of addressing, igniting, and illuminating leadership skills to everyone, I was listening with heart and mind open. At the end of this difficult listening process what I should stress more in is, ‘I never knew that these people could make everyone experience the leadership skills within us’. That said, these guys, taught us that those leadership skills are simple and mundane to have, but complex and exhaustive to employ.
From the first day, 2 main rules these 3 strangers adopted were very simple and effective. First, parking lot for phones during discussions or presentation everyone must park his/her phones in the parking lot while entering the hall. Second a native Indian (Appalachian) custom to not to interrupt a person who is talking during discussion. Native Indians used Stick to show the one who has a power of talking whereas Bhumians used a big pebble. We abided these 2 rules for 3 days.
First day was full of Introductions about each other, discussions about the goal of Bhumi for the next five year, discussion about the individual project goals, and the 5-step strategy to achieve these goals, project coordinators introduction about their projects. Everyone might have learnt where they are with respect to their project and where they have to transcend, as a whole Bhumi, in the next 5 years
Night in the resort, should I have to explain, was awesome. While having dinner, I could hear someone saying, ’Machi, I got tired by only talking’. After dinner, we walked to Beach, the beach was pleasant, calm, and ordinary, as it always used to be, with a husband (watch man) and his wife quarreling at one corner, and our volunteers walking in bare feet, and making calls to their friends and family. Finally, to register the day, we ended with photo sessions in beach.
Second day, we had a hint on the 1st day that 2nd day could be full of outbound activities. As said, 2nd day was full activities which will make you think in the room, act in the ground, and when you come back from the ground, these activities will groom you through discussions. The overview of some skills which we learnt on the 2nd day are Leader’s selection of team member is immaterial of the team’s performance, openness, concentrate on the goals leave the path in achieving it, talk talk and talk till everyone in your team understand your points, accept your false immediately and appreciate other’s points, always have measurable goals, and finally keep your ears wide open listen everything. With these skills experienced in the ground, and the conference room we left to our room only to get ready for the midnight meeting.
Third day was a mix of 1st and 2nd day. One outdoor activity, and discussions/Presentations. Doc,Vaish, and Bhargav somehow saved their energies so as to give their presentations in the end of the day. These presentations gave ideas more into the functional and operational aspects of our Bhumi. With all these great skills learnt, experienced, and experimented we set-off to leave the resort with happy smiles and byes to everyone. Now, I dropped all the Delhi, Pune, Jaipur vols in the airport, and came back to home with the glimpses of few images of three days…
“fight for puri during breakfast, Big Arshath’s small smile, Bhargav’s subway surfers costume, discussion, open-mindedness, quick decision making, Madhushree’s commitment towards Lakshya in Bangalore, decentralizing every chapters, reaching 250 children in Lakshya, Chicken 65 only for the lunch on the last day, beach walk and talk, Kathambari’s track pant, Gana’s fear for Kathambari’s retort, Prakash’s pole-photography, my room’s bathroom door which can be opened/closed only half, dance floor, bhumi’s goal of reaching 10000 children, doc’s vision of taking volunteering to the next level…………..”
Ramkumar Eswaran, Program Co-ordinator, Lakshya Chennai