Volunteer Spotlights

Read the stories  of our Volunteers and discover how you can make a difference and feed your passions through volunteering. Share Your Story here. This month’s Spotlight.

My internship at Samarthanam commenced on 5th January, 2018 and ended on 11th January, 2018. I worked with the organization for a period of thirty (30) hours completed over 6 days. I worked under the guidance of Ms. Harshitha Prakash at the Livelihood Resource Centre (LRC) of Samarthanam which focuses on the vocational training of disabled youths. My mentor throughout my term at Samarthanam was Ms. Mridusmita Bhuyan, who generally allotted work and supervised the same. I also received work from Ms. Athira, Mr. Manjunatha and Mr. Janak Senapati.

The nature of the work I performed at Samarthanam was diverse and varied. The LRC performs many functions such as the enrollment of youths, their training and placements. I performed administrative work, which included creating marksheets for weekly assignments and tests, updating of attendance on online databases, updating of the daily classroom logbook and updating of marks on the database for the aforesaid assignments and tests. I verified documents submitted by the new candidates at Samarthanam and arranged the same according to a checklist. I also sorted tests and assignments as per their subject matter. However, the highlight of my time at Samarthanam was the classroom interaction I had with the students at the LRC. On one day, I spoke with a few candidates in one of the new batches of Samarthanam. Mallikarjun, Appukutan and Athiba were the three students I interacted with the most and their desire to learn new things was extremely heartening. They were exceedingly friendly and inquired about my college life, family and hometown, whilst I learnt about their homes, families, likes and dislikes and hopes and aspirations. Two of these students were hearing impaired and the only way I could communicate with them was by means of typing. However, their disability did not dampen their enthusiasm and their friendliness. These interactions offered me a renewed perspective of looking at the disabled, or rather the differently-abled. I learnt how these people are not much different from conventionally normal individuals; they have the same shared dreams and the same zest for achieving something in life. I taught these candidates the basics of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. I taught them how to make charts and graphs from collected data on Powerpoint and how to format text on Word and format cells on Excel. I learnt a fair bit from them too, they taught me how to apply formulae in Excel, and I will surely use this knowledge to my advantage in the future.

Another important aspect of my work was interviewing candidates and creating their profiles. I performed the task of making a small portfolio containing their personal details. Thereafter, I was entrusted the responsibility of interviewing these candidates and creating a timeline of their life, documenting their lives till enrolling with Samarthanam, the subsequent changes and their future prospects. There were several challenges I faced while conducting these interviews, the most prominent being the language barrier while interviewing visually impaired candidates and the difficulty of not knowing sign language while interviewing hearing and speech impaired candidates. However, I received support and co-operation from Mridusmita ma’am and two students, Sadiq Pasha and Suheela Khatun, who acted as interpreters and translators. I am very grateful for all their help. The interviews I conducted acquainted me with the lives and struggles of the candidates. I learnt about their families and also gained insight into their aspirations for the future, in terms of jobs, employment or other prospects. I also learnt how Samarthanam helped these candidates in their journey, imparting training and skills which will help them secure employment and facilitate a better life and standards of living.

Often we turn a blind eye to the sufferings of others who are less fortunate, simply because we are not exposed to their lives and struggles. However, being less fortunate is only a state of mind, since every individual has the power to change his or her fate and change their destiny into a favourable one. My time at Samarthanam has given me exposure and been a real eye-opener. Now that I am aware of the lives, the trials and tribulations of the disabled, I hope to be able to direct my efforts into the upliftment of such like people, contribute gainfully for their betterment and welfare and bring about a lasting and impactful change.

Prithviraj Choudhury