Picture this: An engineering graduate from a college of good repute is placed with one of India’s top software engineering companies. She accepts the offer in the year 2012 but is told that, due to recession, she will have to wait before she can join the company. In order to do something productive during this interim period, she takes up a fellowship programme with Youth For Seva (YFS).
After a year she is called back to join the software company. She is placed in the Mysuru office, but makes it a point to travel to Bengaluru every weekend where she continues volunteering with any organisation that is looking for help. This continues for a year and nine months, when she realises that while she likes the job she has, it isn’t what she wants to be doing all her life.
Meet Nivedita who left her comfortable software engineering job to work with Youth For Seva, a volunteer-driven platform for social change, as a full-time employee. She says,
“I realised this was not what I wanted to do. I was the happiest when I was volunteering over the weekends and felt that if I could do that all through the week that would make me happier.”
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At Youth for Seva, Nivedita manages a seven-member team, and helps out in induction programmes and managing several teams, which work together to make the organisation run smoothly. Currently, YFS has about 3000 children who are enrolled in their programmes. When asked if she is also involved in teaching, she says,
“I do try from time to time to visit classes and teach the children, so that I am in touch with that side as well. My work primarily is to manage people, resources, and teams.”
“I used to teach computer science to the children at the government school near my house. I remember that missing one class would mean that all the students check with me on why I had not come. That was when I realised how much of a responsibility this volunteering work actually is. That is what makes us work harder and keeps us going.”
YFS also tries contacting and collaborating with government schools to absorb these children into formal schools. When asked about what keeps her going she says, “Knowing that these children are working towards a better future and that we are in some small way contributing towards that is what motivates me to work hard.”
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Leaving a secure job for an occupation that may or may not have a stable future was not an idea that her parents and relatives understood immediately. “It took a lot of convincing on my part and even now the acceptance is happening gradually,” she says.
“While they don’t say anything vocally now, they still wonder why I left a good job. They tried convincing me to continue volunteering over the weekends alone.”
“I didn’t feel complete only volunteering over the weekends. I wanted to give it much more than I was at that point in time. Very rarely do people get a chance to do a job that they are passionate about and I didn’t want to let that chance go.”
Nivedita has been an inspiration to her friends as well. From not even knowing what volunteering involves, her friends now spend time with various organisations across the city volunteering and helping out.
YFS too welcomes volunteers in their centres in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The organisation may call itself ‘youth’, but Nivedita clarifies saying,
“All we need are people young at heart, and the age really doesn’t matter to us.”
To volunteer with YFS register here: https://youthforseva.org/register-as-volunteer/. Email id: email@example.com. For more details, call – 7259958595 / 7349246271 or visit their Facebook page.