Two of ETASHA’s volunteers explain why they decided to volunteer and what they get from the experience.
For many people simply going to work every day is bad enough, but the idea of going to work for no pay doesn’t even bear thinking about. But there are those who do just that. ETASHA benefits from the skills, experience and enthusiasm of a committed group of volunteers who give up their free time to work for nothing.
Arunabh, 19, is one such volunteer. He was studying engineering at Thapar University, Patiala until February 2011 when he decided to switch to economics, which he will begin at Delhi University in July. Not wanting to waste his time ‘doing nothing’ while he waited to go to DU he approached two NGOs, ETASHA and Pratham, offering his services before deciding to go with ETASHA. Arunabh works six days per week and was initially based in the community, but has also assisted in Career Highway workshops and carries out research. He has a daily 90 minute commute each way from his home in Ghaziabad and still manages to fit in an hour of tennis coaching each morning. So why does he do it, when he could be hanging out at the mall with his friends?
“I really get satisfaction from knowing that we’re helping people get jobs but on a more practical level I’m also learning a lot about what goes into running a small organisation, such as strategy, and planning, research and communications. Though this is an NGO many of the principles are the same as running a small business. This will hopefully help me in my later career. It’s fantastic exposure.”
While Arunabh is a fresher with great enthusiasm, Rajat Kakkar is an ETASHA volunteer who brings a wealth of skills and experience. Currently working for V-Skill, Rajat began volunteering for us when he was working part-time in software and web design for another company. He wanted to use his time constructively while he searched for a full time position, and came to ETASHA through iVolunteer, an Indian volunteering portal.
As a web-developer Rajat works with us to update our website, providing skills that are not available in-house, and would otherwise have to be paid for.
Asked why he continues to volunteer though now working full time he explains, “I wanted to contribute to society in a tangible way. I don’t have much time so it would not make sense for me to try doing something new which I would need to learn or might not be good at. It made sense to utilise skills I have, knowing that this helps the NGO save money which can be spent on other things.”
Though ETASHA’s core work—training— is carried out exclusively by paid faculty there are some critical aspects of our work that are dependent on the contribution of volunteers; Amit Jain of Paged Up can be relied upon to fix a problem with HTML on EVERY newsletter we have sent out; Monika Arora works remotely to e-convert our CODE program worksheets as part of a larger project to transfer some of our content on-line. They bring hard skills which would ordinarily cost hard money.
Volunteering can be very rewarding, both for the volunteer and the organisation, but those considering it need to be sure they can manage all other commitments before starting. Whilst many people have genuinely good intentions of ‘contributing to society’ volunteering agencies such as iVolunteer and Jaago Re point out that few volunteers last beyond the 1st or 2nd week of an assignment as they begin to understand that having to work to deadlines and schedules is as important in an NGO as it is in any other workplace. Drop out rates for volunteers is high across all non- profits but for those that stay the distance, such as Arunabh and Rajat the rewards are great, and for ETASHA and other such organisations the benefits are greater still.
If you are interested in volunteering, call Ian on 9810364838.