Monday, June 1, 2009


While studying at NIT, Rourkela I was associated with a leprosy colony. I was appalled to find them segregated from the mainstream. Some of the youths had ventured out to earn their livings. The children used to get their basic education from volunteers. The colony used to survive on the basis of the funds from government and voluntary agencies. Those children who studied beyond class VI studied in outside schools.
When people used to know about my Samaritan works, they used to praise me by saying, “You are doing a good job”. Sadly, the encouragement ended there. When I used to tell them to come with us and meet the lepers, there were a lot of unfulfilled promises. Occasionally, some of my very good friends used to accompany me on the visits. But, the initiative was limited within a small circle of people.
Initially, I had supposed people would feel motivated by me and themselves would take up the cudgels for the suffering, in some way or another. But, the support was very limited, which was primarily monetary. I decided I would go alone with another of my dear friend of my institute, whom we fondly called Bada. The chap was otherwise notorious for his pranks(especially against girls), but he had a heart of gold. He and I used to lead the initiatives for the lepers. We used to interact with the lepers and supply them with books and other stationeries from our own pockets.
But, I was never satisfied with our efforts. My realization of the need to help came very late in my 3rd year. In final year, I was busy in my placements, projects and parties. So, I couldn’t make a prominent difference to their lives, which I regretted for a long time. With a powerful student base of NITRKL, I felt I could make a major change to the lives of the lepers. But, the lack of support, financially and person-wise, somehow downed my confidence.
Finally, when I joined Samsung in end 2007, I decided to make a better impact. I browsed through various NGOs in Noida. I had heard a lot about CRY foundation. I wanted to join CRY. But, after several requests to enroll as a member, I didn’t even get a suitable reply. Instead, there were arbitrary requests to contribute money to their NGO. Probably, they had no shortage of manpower and they needed money.
After a lot of searching, I found an NGO, Nai Disha. The name sounded good. I surfed through NGO’s website. It was impressive. It was an NGO which provided free education to under-privileged students upto class V.
I found the name of a volunteering guy, Sandeep. We had presumed he must be some khadi-wearing social worker types – The ones with big rhetorics and inferior motives. Nonetheless, we decided to give it a try. I called up and enquired about the procedure to enroll as volunteers. No procedures as such. We were asked to drop in Sunday at 10:30 am in Nai Disha.
The memories of the Sunday, 6th Jan are a distant one. As such I have a very weak memory, I think I am growing senile.But, I do remember Sandeep. The initial impression turned out to be so wrong. We found him a soft-spoken and down-to-earth guy who was ready to help in all ways. Later, when he told us that he was a graduate from IIT Kharagpur and was working in Mentor Graphics, I felt embarrassed about my initial notion of him.
After a month, we got a bit bored of teaching the students. We could find our interest waning. The similarity in this endeavor and the previous one in NIT, was the lack of support. There was a sheer lack of volunteers. We had to make do on our own.
Nonetheless, Sandeep’s will to work for the students irrespective of the outside support, inspired us to carry on. For some 3-4 months, it was just me and Sandeep.
I felt it easier to motivate the students to go for higher studies than to motivate our team. Though we had big ideas, we didn’t have the manpower to implement those ideas. Somehow, the ideas were lost with the passage of time.
But things changed for the better. I understood what it is to work in a team. It was great to work with like-minded people. We could easily relate with each other.
I will capture the “How and When things changed for the better” in my next blog.
P.S – Details about Nai Disha can be found out at

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