Giving back has always been a huge personal value for me. This is something I have grown up with. During the early stages of my life; this took forms of sharing or giving away things to house helps or anyone who needed essentials they couldn’t easily get access to. As I matured, this took more active forms of regular donations in kind (since my husband is a big believer of this). However, not being able to do more has always nibbled at my conscience.
For a large part of my working career, I have harboured hopes of one day leaving corporate life and working full time in the social sector. While I have had this ambition for the last 10+ years, I never managed to implement this, since, strangely enough, I love my corporate life and have not been ready to give it up! After some frustration at not being able to “give back” as I would have liked, I finally decided that there will never be a perfect timing and that I should just do whatever bit I can; while being employed full time.
And that’s how my association with different NGOs began. I volunteered with Search Years in Gurgaon for about 3-4 years in varying capacities and then with St Vincent de Paul society in the US for about 6 months. When we moved to Sydney, I once again started looking for opportunities to be associated with great NGOs and its then that my close friend, Swastika and I heard about Enable India. With my hectic schedule of a full time job plus managing a 5 year old plus managing a home (with no help in Sydney!); I still decided to give this a try. Not being physically in the same city or rather the same country as Enable India was the only other challenge! After much deliberation, one fine day, I just wrote to Enable India asking whether it would be possible to be associated as volunteers (virtual volunteers) and work on some projects on our own time. To my surprise, they were very open to the idea and before we knew it, Swastika and I were on a skype call with the Enable India team to talk and explore this further.
And that’s when it all started!
My friend Swastika and I were in regular touch with Enable India who used various technological tools to connect with us (e.g. slack – which helped us communicate very effectively). As and when, they had a project, they emailed us and Swastika and I would discuss the same and get back to them with a proposal and timeline. And then we just went off and did our work! We exchanged regular emails with the team to keep them abreast of our progress and also to get feedback along the way. In the last one year of this association, we have worked on about 6 projects; primarily in the area of content development.
As I look back, I can say with immense pride, that in my mind this model has worked really well! It has allowed me to work at my time, at my pace but on projects that were a true need to the organization. This has not only opened my eyes to all the great work that Enable India does but has truly made me believe that time and distance are all barriers which can easily be overcome in today’s world.
I cannot thank the team at Enable India enough for giving Swastika and me the opportunity to be associated as “virtual volunteers”…and my only message to anyone who is reading this is
“Don’t wait for a perfect timing, don’t wait for a big inspiration to strike you – life is too short for that. Just do your bit, in whatever little way you can”
Shruti Jain is an IT professional living in Sydney Australia.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer.