AKANKSHA ANN VARMA
Two years ago, and after attending a fun but exhausting UN session is when I was first introduced to Concern India Foundation, at an event called, “Splash”. At first, I felt like it was yet another one of those sessions that a 15- year old was being dragged to, but that changed, very quickly.
Splash, to me was more than just a regular art competition. Witnessing first hand, differently abled children, sketch and paint, demonstrating their talents on stage by dancing and singing moved me deeply, and made me realize how positive they were by not letting their physical faculties get in the way of the human spirit. As I participated alongsidethem and with time, I was more appreciative of them. It gave me pause to introspect and was just the first step I would take in my journey and in my own way, do whatever little I could possibly do for the greater good.
“Enriching Young Minds”, a program designed for both children and parents and for them to hear firsthand from professionals and experts, was another enlightening opportunity for me and my friends. We helped with organizing and executing the event, in small parts, which put our planning and organizational skills to test. It personally gave me an opportunity to overcome my stage fear, when I was tasked with the introductions of the panel members and also to showcase my skills at operating the audio -visual equipment.
“Women of Today” has a special place in my heart. It was a very real demonstration of how beautiful, caring, loving, balanced and powerful women are. It was made adequately clear to me at the event, that women could excel and become experts in their choice of pursuits and also balance that with family. This event made me see my mother in a different light. She wasn’t just a “mom”, but a hard-working, driven and talented woman, who achieved anything she put her mind to.
Just ahead of COVID, my friends and I volunteered for the special needs Children’s Sports Day, where we organized games, assisted the children and helped out with different tasks. I recognized quite a few of the participants from the earlier help Splash event in 2018, and it was really nice and heartening to see them, again and was a reinforcement of sorts that I was on the correct path.
While COVID, was the most disruptive event of 2020, impacting millions, claiming thousands of lives, pushingmillions below the poverty line, and causing the exodus of migrant labor, my friends and I set out to do what we could, on our part, to help alleviate the suffering of a few. We started a fund-raising campaign on social media, proceeds of which would help with PPE kits, ventilators, food supplies and other essentials as required.
We set ourselves a target of INR 3 lakhs, but raised approximately 6 lakh INR, with the help of our friends. All of us had different emotions and experiences of camaraderie, bringing out our creative best to make and post videos, writing scripts which served as the voice over, making an excel spread sheet to track donations received and encouraging each other on. In a time when we were confined to our homes, and people were getting used to social distancing, and isolation, we were busy becoming more effective and efficient. It is an experience which is uplifting and unparalleled. Knowing that you have contributed in a small way, whatever little and that your actions could potentially help just one soul, is as if you saved the world.
Experiences as a volunteer, changes you, for the better. It helps you appreciate and be grateful for what you have and that there is more to life than just you as an individual. It transcends you beyond materialistic possessions and offers experiences that no money can buy. You can literally see your actions having an immediate positive impact, no matter how small or large your contributions are, irrespective of whether it was monetary or your time. Most of all, and as the principle protagonist, Aragorn from the movie, “Lord of the Rings”, at the battle of Helm’s Deep very eloquently says, “There is always hope”.