During my stint at iVolunteer I got the unique opportunity and challenge to get the kids of India to volunteer. We led a project called Sushrusha, which means service. This project was conducted in collaboration with D.A.V schools in Chennai.
You may ask what is this Susrusha project all about and why have I called it a unique and challenging opportunity?
Well, Sushrusha is a large scale child friendly volunteering opportunity that we conduct over a period of a week or month. During the program, we have witnessed children, as young as LKG and as old as 12th grade, volunteer.
You might wonder, how did we get children at such a young age to volunteer? We were quite surprised and excited as well. We started this program as a “let’s give them the opportunity to do good and volunteer and we will wait and see what comes out of it.” So, when we seen
such young kids volunteering we were very excited and encouraged to take this one step further. We realized that the kids had a hunger to volunteer.
During the first edition, we created a simple volunteering opportunity called Tell A Story, where the children had to choose an existing story or create a story by themselves, narrate that story and record it.
The second edition of the Sushrusha took place during COVID, a period where neither us nor the teachers had any contact with the students. This is where it became challenging. We have no direct way of motivating the kids to volunteer. This, however, was not an obstacle. Since
the children were bored of the routine online school and being at home, they were more than happy to volunteer. We curated 3 simple volunteering opportunities like grow a plant, cook and serve (cook something and serve it to watchmen, destitute, housemaid etc.), and feed animals and birds around us. In this edition we received submissions from around 1500
In the third edition, since the kids were back in school and back in action! We expected greater participation this time and that’s what we got. We were overwhelmed by the participation we received. This time we received participation from, not 2000, not 3000, not 5000 but around 7000 children! This time again we provided the children with a choice of 3 volunteering opportunities. Few students volunteered in all 3 opportunities.
It was the determination of the teachers and the excitement of the children coming back to school and getting to volunteer in a group with their classmates that resulted in such a high level of participation.
Another interesting thing is that, generally, school programs don’t tend to garner so much participation because it takes a lot of effort from the teacher’s end and they already are overworked. However, in this case the teachers were very motivated to help as they saw the excitement, enthusiasm and joy on the children’s faces.
We also realized an increasing trend in volunteering over the years which shows that the children are slowly internalizing the habit of volunteering, which was our goal all along.