The joy of helping others

"Helping others gives you a feeling of satisfaction and contentment that’s unmatched."

ByNilanjana Sendasgupta

Updated on 5 Dec 2021, 7:19 pm

Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)

Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)

 

It’s for that feeling deep inside

It’s that reward down your heart

It’s the sense that you have been a part

Of helping people far and near

When the heart said: Let’s do it…

It was April 2020. The country had shut down. Offices and schools closed overnight and businesses were disrupted. Thousands had lost their jobs and families were struggling to sustain a living.

Sisao Ahanthem could not just sit at home and do nothing. The 20-year-old B Com graduate from Imphal decided to join hands with CRY as a volunteer and do her bit. Together with a couple of her friends, Sisao donated books, stationeries and dry food packets for the families of the vendors in the local market. “I had never worked as a volunteer before this. But the time was such that I felt I had to do something concrete. The vendors in the local market were going through a tough time. Their daily earnings were next to nothing and it was getting increasingly difficult for them to make a living. We distributed dry food packets, books, stationeries and necessary household items among them.”

Those were the days when venturing out of the homes was a risky move. Taking the initiative, the commerce graduate launched an online fund-raising campaign, urging people to donate for a good cause. She reached out to her friends, friends of friends, relatives, acquaintances, start-ups, restaurants and small businesses through emails and text messages. And, over 45 days, she raised a whopping Rs 89,000 as aid money. “Everybody was indoors, in the confines of their homes. And, most people were totally oblivious to the sufferings of the underprivileged sections, especially kids. I am an active social media user. And, I wanted to use social media to get my message across to people.”

Sisao is happy that she could manage to convince people to donate for a good cause. “I never knew that I had the ability to influence people’s thoughts. And, I am happy that I managed to convince some people to reach out and help others,” she smiled.

As she prepares for a new life and job in Gurgaon come December, the confident young commerce graduate wants to volunteer as much as she can. “Helping others gives you a feeling of satisfaction and contentment that’s unmatched. I realised this during my volunteering stint with CRY, and I want to keep this feeling alive in my heart,” Sisao signs off with a smile.

When she learnt to take ‘no’ for an answer

During her volunteering stint with CRY last year, the biggest lesson that 19-year-old Keisham Yoihenbi Chanu learnt is that all efforts and initiatives, however well executed and well planned, do not often end on a positive note. Much like Sisao, Yoihenbi too started a Ketto campaign to raise money for families in need. Although she raised Rs 36,000 in just around three weeks, it was a learning curve for the NIT Manipur civil engineering student.

“I had reached out to individuals, organizations, hotels and start-ups with a plea to donate generously for a good cause. While there were prompt responses from some, a few others did not even bother to reply. I sent them repeated reminders, but to no avail,” the 19-year-old says.

Yoihenbi makes no secret of the fact that she was disappointed when her pleas fell on deaf ears. But she did not lose hope. Neither did she abandon her campaign. “I hung in there and I kept on trying. I was constantly telling myself that I was doing this for the people who are not as privileged as some of us are. And, in this time of crisis, if we don’t help them, who will,” she says.

The third-year civil engineering student feels her stint as a volunteer has given her an opportunity to interact with people and understand them better. “I spoke with so many people and they were all so different from each other. The process of understanding these different mindsets has made me a more tolerant individual. I now know that if there is a ‘yes’, there will be a ‘no’ as well. I will just have to take it in my stride and move on.”

When she moved out of the textbooks…

Twenty-one-year-old Shirroy Kangjam is doing her Masters in social work from a university in Guwahati. The only experience of volunteering she had previously was teaching underprivileged kids for a while. But her volunteering stint with CRY last year has opened her eyes to the harsh realities that exist outside her “happy bubble” “Volunteering with CRY last year has made me realize how little I know of the world around me. My books tell me only half the story. People live in such trouble and hardships and yet don’t make a hue and cry about it,” the MA student says.

Be it through her conversations with the market vendors while distributing relief materials or reaching out to potential donors for fund-raising, Shirroy has mastered the skills of effective communication. It’s not often what you say but how you say it – that’s the mantra she hopes will stand her in good stead in all her future endeavours.

The 21-year-old is truly grateful for the volunteering opportunity she got and plans to do her bit, in her own way, as and when the opportunity arises.

Montu Ahanthem, Manipur Alliance for Child Rights convener, is all praise for the volunteers. “They did a wonderful job during those hard times. Kudos to their passion, spirit and the will to do something for others,” he said.

 

 

 

First published:5 Dec 2021, 7:19 pm

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Nilanjana Sendasgupta

Nilanjana Sendasgupta

Consultant, Child Rights and You (CRY), Kolkata

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