They went out of their comfort zones, worked for seven days, they faced rejections and were turned away many times, but their passion ceased to diminish. This is the story of seven spirited Class XI students of Shri Ram School, who volunteered with CAF India to raise funds for the victims of Cyclone Fani. Their contribution, though modest by some standards, will go a long way in inspiring more youngsters to come forward and selflessly volunteer for a cause.
When I was given the task of mentoring these giggly, curious bunch of 16-year-olds, I had my doubts. Will they be serious and committed enough? Every day the students had to spend six to seven hours at shopping malls in Delhi-NCR talking to visitors seeking donations for people affected by cyclone FANI. They had to get details of the donors and give them receipts – which is traditionally not a task teenagers take on, especially during summer holidays when they could have been home enjoying their time off from school.
Though faced with disappointments at first, the students gradually realized the importance of their work; that they could make a difference if they tried hard enough. Their interest grew. They loved spending time understanding the development sector; they were able to understand the relevance of what they were doing and how their work could help rebuild the lives of people who were affected by disasters. After that, they approached passersby and the visitors in the mall with undiminished enthusiasm and talked to them about the destruction caused by Cyclone Fani and urged them for donations to help the victims.
In fact, far from being demotivated by rejections, the students learned from them and carried on. They approached more and more people, talking to them about the loss incurred from the cyclone and the urgency of the situation. Every day they were able to approach 200 to 300 people. I was delightfully surprised when the students volunteered to work on Eid, a public holiday, so that they could take advantage of the higher footfalls at the malls.
After 7 days, the youngsters collected a whopping sum of INR 56,000! The amount is negligible when compared to the contributions that came in through Corporate Social Responsibility and government funds, but their passion and hard work was inspiring and exemplary. A proud parent of one of these children stated: ‘our child has become more mature and considerate in the past 7 days.’
Even after the volunteering activity has come to a close, the students still keep in touch with me through a WhatsApp group as they are keen to get another such opportunity to support a cause. I tell them, this is a movement, and it won’t take long before the seven of them can once again come forward to offer their skills; and perhaps inspire their peers to do the same. Kudos to the Super Seven!
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India is a registered not-for-profit organization established in New Delhi, India in 1998 nurturing the culture of giving with impact. The imbibing of this culture emboldens our approach of creating a positive change in the community by reaching to the last mile person.