Seva Dina an unusually interesting volunteering event conducted by the Youth For Seva on 13th January 2018, is a testimony to the spirit of giving. Tales of adults happily volunteering their spare hours, be it on the weekends or weekdays, are much heard of, however, this initiative put a twist to that. The core team along with a few key volunteers got thinking and brainstormed about what it would be like if kids – who otherwise are always on the receiving end of the acts of kindness – were given a chance to explore their untapped volunteering potential. What if they were given a chance to give back to the society in their own small way? Won’t this be a wonderful way to inculcate the seeds of volunteerism amongst the children? These ideas laid the foundation for this volunteering movement.
Seva Dina : one dina (day) to help kids realise the ‘joy of seva’ ( volunteering) and understand the importance of being the change you wish to see in the world. Kids felt they mattered and their acts held the power to create ripples of change for a better tomorrow.
An impressive 3700 children, ranging from classes 5th to 7th , took part in this event held across 73 government schools in Bengaluru. Volunteering among children was ably supported by 700 volunteers, who made this event a success.
Events ranged from paper pen making and each one teach one, to outdoor activities raising awareness through campaigns, promoting the message of saving water, hygiene and traffic awareness.
Paper Pen Making: This event centered around helping kids make pens, using waste material and by avoiding plastic. Kids generously went ahead and donated the pens to someone else. This helped them understand the importance of using one’s resource judiciously.
Each one Teach one : It was a simple yet beautiful concept wherein the children took on the onus of imparting skill they had to other kids. A 7th class student could, for example, go ahead and teach a 6th grader something about hygiene, environment or perhaps even a song. Later, the kids who were at the learning end briefed others about what they had acquired. This helped them gain confidence to speak in front of an audience as well.
Save Water : The awareness for this was spread via class demonstration whereby the entire class was divided into groups of two such that half of the children washed hands using running tap water whereas the others washed their hands with the help of another kid using mugs for this purpose. The idea was to drive home the point that more water can be preserved when one make an effort to wash hands using mugs or with the help of another person as compared to washing one’s hand under a running tap. The volunteers even showed educational videos to the kids regarding this subject.
The outdoor activities focused chiefly on spreading awareness via campaigning and had social engagement as one of it’s other mottos. Not only did the kids shout slogans regarding vital issues such as “Education, Traffic and Hygiene Awareness” on the streets, but also didn’t hesitate from reaching out to other people and talking to them on a one-on-one basis wherever an opportunity arose. One can actually imagine the kind of confidence and courage this must have inculcated within these impressionable minds and noble hearts.
Traffic Awareness: The traffic Awareness campaign took place in 7 different schools. It was initiated with the intention of inculcating a healthy road sense in kids. They rallied around holding placards such as “Speed thrills but kills’’, “Thank you for not honking”, “thank you for stopping before the Zebra crossing” etc. Anil Bhandari, one of the volunteers conducting this event shared how the traffic policemen appreciated the efforts of children and offered full support in execution of the event. One of them even commented that had they had a prior idea about the event, they’d have arranged some snacks for the kids.
Educational Awareness Campaign : For this the kids went to the nearby slum areas carrying placards and encouraged other children over the age of 5 to come to school. A few school dropouts were also present in some cases. The efforts of the students of Turahalli school for instance bore fruit when they managed to convince 6 parents to send their children to school. Prema the coordinating volunteer for this event found that “the kids’ energy and enthusiasm was highly commendable”.
Hygiene Awareness: Nagashree, a Basavanagudi school volunteer shared how they addressed the crucial issue of hygiene awareness through street play. The play was performed outside a park, post which a rally was carried out, wherein the children carried important slogans such as “Go Green, Go Clean” etc. The purpose of this campaign was to help a layman understand the importance of hygiene and cleanliness. In an attempt to educate others, the children also indirectly made themselves aware of the importance of hygiene and cleanliness, which in turn would also at some point lead them to educate their own family members.
There were four other events that were conducted in one school each and are worth highlighting, namely – “Swatchh Vidyalaya”, “Plastic Awareness”, “Sapling Planting” and “Pongal bowls”.
While the Govindrajanagara school kids implemented Swatchh vidyalaya programme by cleaning up their school, the Hosahalli school kids carried out the sapling planting instead. Both the events received a good feedback. In fact in Hosahalli school a few teachers even stepped forward and helped the kids with the sapling planation.
Marenahalli school kids made the Pongal bowl event a success by participating with great gusto in painting diyas and bowls, which then were gifted to the kids of NachiKeta Manovikas Kendra, an Institution working for the identification, education, training, rehabilitation and research of children with intellectual disability.
Planning and Organisation
The planning for “Seva Dina” started way back in November. A team of 7 volunteers began with a discussion about the logistics, such as how the schools would be approached, how many schools shall take part and so on.
There was a Sevadina Core team put in place who overlooked everything. This team comprised of people working full time for YFS as well as volunteers. Bengaluru’s four zones were assigned a key volunteer, who took the onus of deciding what activities were to be conducted in that school. These people were called anchor volunteer. The cluster in-charges coordinated with the anchor volunteers to ensure a hassle free implementation of the planned events at schools. The anchor volunteers were also responsible for assigning tasks or duties to other volunteers.
The Seva dina team went the extra mile by having a song written for this very occasion. The composition of the song was done by a man whose story is no less of an inspiration itself: Mr. Ramesh Hegde. Although bedridden for the past 30 years, his physical inability hasn’t deterred him from learning five regional languages, penning several poems as well as having a few books in his name. This Kannada song is as tribute to all that the event stands for. His heartfelt gesture therefore is an embodiment of the very spirit of Youth for Seva : The spirit of giving, care and nurturing. We laud Mr. Hegde and also appreciate the efforts of the volunteers who played a crucial role in composing the tune as well as carrying about the recording of this song.
A score of other volunteers from different corporates, NGOs and colleges such as PES College, KLE College, Acharya College Ammanni College, NITTE, Thomson Reuters and KPIT, VFC wholeheartedly stepped forward to devote their time and efforts to this cause. That 700 volunteers stepped up to the task of making this day all about the 3700 kids who participated speaks volumes in itself about the success.
A volunteering cause by Youth for Seva volunteers towards inculcating the spirit of volunteering amongst children: Seva Dina.