Heal the World
They're young, suave and ambitious professionals. But they have a humanitarian side to them that is truly inspiring. Hyderabad Timesfinds out how they intend to 'make it a better place'
MADHURI KALYAN Times News Network
A bird with a broken wing lying helplessly, bleeding to death on the side of the road, a scruffy street kid begging at the traffic signal – moving images of helplessness, that evokes a deep sense of sadness and compassion. But most of us choose to ignore that uncomfortable feeling that would urge us to step outside our cocooned environment and face the reality that lies beyond our rose-tinted view of the world. In an age where they say 'bad is the new good' and being self-centered is considered cool, this brigade of young people, cool in every sense of the word, are here to prove otherwise.
Says Rajat Kumar Agarwal, who started the Sankalp foundation as result of a personal experience says, "One night during our college days, when some of us were at the hospital, we noticed a person desperately searching for blood donors for almost 3 hours. We did donate blood, but later found out that the patient had died as we had dilly dallied and not made ourselves available for the donation immediately. It was then that we decided to never say no to a blood donation request, and started 1062 helpline."
But however good your intentions maybe, starting an NGO is not exactly a bed of roses, opines Vishal Taneja, of Dream a Dream NGO. He says, "Our age, in fact, worked against us when we approached people for funds. No one would take us seriously!" We started with something as small as spending time with HIV positive kids and slowly we realised that kids need a platform to express themselves, and so we developed various activities, including sports, arts and adventure workshop where these kids could express themselves. Moreover, we got the best people, like trainers from the Dhanraj Pillay Hockey Academy, to teach them. We never compromised on quality, as their being poor didn't mean we give them poor quality." For Rajesh Golani, a software engineer, volunteering means a lot of fun and immense learning, "Its an enormous learning experience, it makes your everyday life richer, and you appreciate the mundane things in life you took for granted earlier. True, we don't get to see as many movies, or party, but we don't miss it because everyone here is so full of life, this kind of fun is more wholesome than anything I did in my life!" And it's not just fun and learning that comes out of reaching out to those in need, it also works like the best anti-depressant, says Tapan Vaidya, who takes youth empowerment workshops run by WAYE (World Alliance for Youth Empowerment) "Most young people today get totally involved and consumed by competition at work and relationships, and forget about being human. Hence, we fall prey to depression, which either comes out of the feeling of "I am useless," or "nobody cares about me," but when we take a step to serve, we feel worthy, and cared for in return, making us strong from within".
But what is it that drives these youngsters to take the road less traveled, that requires much focus and commitment? Rajat answers, "It's realising the power that we have within that gives immense satisfaction." He adds, "When the tsunami happened, we saw that one person at the Red Cross was handling about 3000 dead bodies. We started our relief work immediately. In an environment of chaos and confusion, one has to be prompt." And Rajat's words again sum up how these guys stand for everything that symbolizes the true spirit of the country's youth-"We don't just stand and watch when something happens, We act. Only weak people complain and blame. We know that we're making the nation what it is…we are its driving force."