Imagine the efforts of a volunteer force consisting of over 1,000 students and young professionals under the age of 30 benefiting over 10,000 children every year! Yes, that’s a big contribution of NGO Bhumi, one of India’s largest independent youth volunteer non-profit organisations.
Bhumi, an NGO with a big volunteer force, works among orphaned and underprivileged children in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, New Delhi and other parts of the country with the aim of providing children with quality supplementary education and enabling them to become responsible and productive citizens of the future.
Bhumi’s Ms.Vaishnavi Srinivasan, the Executive Director tells us more about the NGO and its vision.
Bhumi started off with a small yearning to do something for the nation in 2006. A bunch of us volunteered to teach children at an orphanage. The experience was an eye-opener about the status of the education system in the country. This motivated us to start Bhumi on August 15 of the same year. We wanted socially conscious and young Changemakers to associate this platform with something close to everyone’s heart – ‘Bhumi’ meaning Mother Earth in many Indian languages, what else could fit in better?
Let’s have a look at important projects of Bhumi –
- Kanini – It is a computer literacy programme involving teaching of basic and advanced concepts based on the children’s aptitude levels – Ongoing at five chapters and benefiting over 800 children.
- Speak Out – An interactive English-learning programme for children who have limited or no proficiency in the language – Ongoing at one chapter and benefiting over 160 children.
- Lakshya – A mentorship programme that pairs underprivileged children with volunteers, who act as their mentors and undergo experiential learning in leadership – Ongoing at three chapters and benefiting 300 children.
- Little Einsteins – An activity-based approach to learn Mathematics and Science using live demonstrations and multimedia tools – Ongoing at five chapters and benefiting over 300 children.
- Nakshatra – This is an annual inter-children’s art, cultural, sports and science talent fest for children to exhibit their talents and explore their potential in an atmosphere of healthy competition. Over 5,000 children from 100 children’s homes have benefited across Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Tiruchirapalli.
Vaishnavi detailed a bit about two more projects.
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We also have an annual initiative by the name of ‘Joy to the World’ which aims to spread joy to underprivileged children by fulfilling their small wishes just ahead of the New Year. Over 5,000 children are expected to benefit this year. And then, we also have a Hi5 Club which is an initiative to promote volunteerism among youth who have never engaged in volunteering activities.
When asked if Indian youth is disoriented these days, Vaishnavi strongly disagreed and feels that today’s youth are the future of this nation and constitute a large chunk of enlightened population.
Bhumi would not be operational if not for our focused, driven and passionate young volunteers, who are all under the age of 30. Even though we have observed a few volunteers walking in for a certificate, most of our volunteers create an unbreakable bond with the children, and end up staying with Bhumi for a much longer period than they had initially planned. Even though we battle out challenges like attrition and irregularity in attending classes, a majority of our volunteers are committed and self-driven. If not us, who will change our country?
Vaishnavi told us that Bhumi team believes not only in just creating the platform, but setting the right direction and providing a wide platter of opportunities to nurture oneself (including leadership, inter-personal and communication skills) so as to encourage today’s youth to volunteer.
To encourage youth to volunteer, apart from highlighting the short-term benefits they are likely to get, we need to emphasize on bigger takeaways that are likely to impact their lives forever. Bhumi is managed by several young volunteers at every level, the centres, the projects, the chapters and then on an overall national scale. The average age of our team is 22-23 and consists of more or less equal number of students & working professionals of both sexes. While most of the volunteers contribute 2-4 hours per week; those who have chosen to spend a few hours beyond weekend volunteering constitute our support teams.
Bhumi raises funds from both corporate companies and individuals. While the former engage in continued corporate social responsibility, the latter donate a small amount every month and this sustained contribution goes towards the procurement of books, computers and other aids. Many of their volunteers also contribute every month towards Bhumi.
We wish to reach out to at least five more cities every year from now, and extend our programmes to more children across the country. We want to make volunteerism a national habit and plan to start a volunteer match programme linking volunteers with causes that matter to them (apart from Bhumi) sometime in 2014. Stay tuned to www.bhumi.org.in for details.
We appreciate the way Bhumi has capitalized on the volunteering force of Indian youth. Organizations like Bhumi are playing a catalyst role to direct India and the youth towards a better tomorrow.