Although we are incontrovertibly living in the most materialistic era in human history, the world is witnessing a steadily rising trend among the youth who are driven by a desire to contribute to the welfare of the society. Many youngsters today accord high priority to community service, sometimes higher than a lucrative career. Even those employed full time are keen to engage in social activism in their spare time and make the world a better place to live in.
Making sustainable income a reality for the disadvantaged
20-year-old Ambika Agnihotri, a student of Ashoka University, Sonipat does her bit to help uplift the society in her spare time apart from going to college to earn a degree. Having worked with the NSS, Global Cancer Concern, Ambika has won an award for being the best volunteer for the funds collection drive. Ambika’s greatest contribution so far to a social cause was her participation in Project Lakeer – an initiative of Ashoka University‘s community outreach programme.
Project Lakeer aims at improving the quality of life of the underprivileged women by providing them a consistent source of income. Based on a business model which is not only effective and efficient but also sustainable, the project volunteers train the women in making high quality handcrafted diaries. The diaries are then sold at multiple venues, thereby ensuring a sustainabile source of income.
The journey towards empowerment
Ambika says, “As a team, we work with an NGO in Delhi and we have five women entrepreneurs to assist. When any new business is set up, it is necessary to have adequate knowledge about the business and this is exactly what we do. We help these women to understand their business in such a way as to make them independent and knowledgeable.”
“Moreover, we assist these women in very step but our main focus lies on making them independent and self-sufficient so that are able to run the business by themselves and for themselves. Providing these women with aid both financially and mentally is one thing, but noticing the joy on their faces after all the hardships they brave is extremely fulfilling. I chose to work with Enactus since I did not want my college life to just start and end with academics and I felt that social activism would push me outside my comfort zone,” adds Ambika.
Spearheading cost-effective medical aid in Jharkhand village
While the reasons for youngsters venturing into social activism could be numerous, they are largely guided by the primary objective of helping the disadvantaged communities overcome problems in their lives or at the least, ensure that their situation gets better.
21-year-old Avyansh Bharadwaj, a student of Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, is another youngster who is doing his bit to make life better for the underprivileged. Avyansh was previously engaged in a social welfare scheme under the Ministry of Home Affairs and Niti Aayog as an aspirational district fellow intern in the district of Chatra, Jharkhand. Realising that the village community had little or no access to quality healthcare, Avyansh, with the help of his team, devised the “Health Cube and Health Kit” which would not only just help in diagnosing a medical condition but would also suggest appropriate medications for the same. Raghuvar Das, chief minister of Jharkhand, eventually took forward the initiative and renamed it as ‘Mukhya Mantri Aarogya Kunji Yojana, Jharkhand’.
Avyansh remarks, “A man from the Birhor community lost his wife while giving birth to their fifth child because of the lack of medical facilities in the village. One of the major problems included the lack of transportation, that is, no availability of ambulances because of the village being located in a remote area. Along with two other aspirational district fellows, I devised the Health Cube Kit which would help provide medical aid to patients during emergencies. This device helps in accurate diagnosis of a disease through the blood sample. Since it is easy to operate, the local village nurses also called as the ANM, who are trained to operate this device, will help the patient get his treatment accordingly. When I worked in Chatra village, I realised that treatment does come at a later stage but patients were not able to get the illness correctly diagnosed. This was basically why we designed this device.”
A strong desire to uplift others
Sharing the motive behind his social activism, Avyansh says, “My involvement in contributing to the society gave me a sense of relief, a sense of belonging and pride, when I did something good for the underprivileged kids. I believe it is a very noble cause and that every person should be thankful to the deity that each of us are capable enough to lend a hand to people who unfortunately cannot aid themselves, due to various compulsions. I am grateful to contribute in whatever way I can.”
Avyansh has also worked with KAARMIC Education Services Pvt Ltd, taught in numerous schools as a trainer, instructor and a social activist in spite of being a busy student.
These are stories of a few students who have gone out of their way although still studying in college, wanting to make a difference. Being a social worker in their part time is an invaluable opportunity for them.
Therefore, rendering a message to the student community, Ambika says, “Looking at social work/charity from extreme viewpoints should be avoided. By extreme viewpoints I mean looking at it either as a very noble, perhaps difficult task to undertake – something that only a selected few can do; or as something that people who are unable to work in other fields do. I feel everyone has a capacity and a capability to be involved in social work/charity. People grow to love it and inculcate it as a hobby or a profession in their lives. The fruit of such acts is pure happiness and growth.”