Volunteer Speak - Soumali

posted Jun 9, 2011, 11:41 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 10, 2011, 12:49 AM ]

Soumali completed her B-Tech from West Bengal University of Technology in 2007. After which she came to Bangalore and started working with LG-CNS. Where her friend Ankur, an active volunteer of AF introduced her to Aashayein foundation. Since then she is with AF and has been integral part of various AF programs and events mainly BMKS program. She is currently working with Mindtree Ltd as a Software Engineer.

She had participated in BMKS mentorship program last year. This year she has been an integral part of BMKS survey, test and interviewing the kids and parents. She has shown a lot of commitment in volunteering which motivates others too. Her hobbies include singing, listening to music, reading, travelling, and sketching.

Aashayein Foundation's Interview with Soumali.

AF:            How did you come to know about Aashayein Foundation and what inspired you to join it?

Soumali:     I came to know about it through my colleague, Ankur.

So to speak about inspiration, I feel we are part of a very small population in Indian society, who have been privileged with quality education and living. Aashayein has given me the opportunity to reciprocate the favor, to some extent.


AF:            As you participated in BMKS surveys, tests and interviews. How was your experience?

Soumali:      The experiences were sort of an eye opener. Numerous people, their lifestyle, and their challenges, were all unique; and each teaching a stern lesson in some form or other. The surveys are basically conducted in various economically backward areas in the city, in order to gather information about kids who are not going to school. These surveys sometimes come in as a package of surprises, sometimes as a source of fun, and often we are at loss of words observing the struggle they face day in and out.

However, I would like to share one particular funny experience, where I saw a kid in NGV slum area, carrying a shoe box in hand, with utmost care. Upon request, when he showed us the content in the box, that was the first time I saw little chickens inside it, all colored in pink, blue and green! Till some time, I had mistaken them with soft toys!


AF:            Please tell us about BMKS and what all are the activities BMKS team do?

Soumali:     BMKS is one of the main programs of Aashayein foundation, which identifies children who are not able to attend school, and provide them educational opportunities. This involves surveys in various economically backward areas in the city, soon after these surveys, written tests follow suite. These tests are attended by a huge crowd of kids accompanied by parents, neighbors and sometimes grandparents as well J... These tests are intended to measure the eligibility of a kid to get himself/herself selected, to be admitted to school. Interview follows the test, where the volunteers check basic communication skills of the kids. Final decision on the candidature of a kid, for admission, is based on this interview.

Mentorship program is another interesting activity we were part of, during last year. This program involves tracking the progress of all the kids who have got admitted to school through survey-test-interview process. Each volunteer would be responsible to track the progress of 5 kids (sometimes may be more) and deal with any concerns they have regarding attending school, such as lack of textbooks and other school kits. Sometimes students would even drop-out from school. In such cases the mentors would be responsible to speak to students and their parents, and try to resolve the problem, if any, and bring them back to school.



AF:            Tell us something about AF induction program which you attended recently. Would you like to recommend people to attend this? If Yes, why?

Soumali:     Yes, surely. The objectives and ideas of Aashayein are brought forth in these induction programs. So it is a great forum for the new volunteers to know about them, to meet other fellow volunteers, who are working for the same cause, and share their ideas as well.


AF:            What are the other projects of Aashayein foundation you would like to contribute?

Soumali:     Presently I would like to work for BMKS


AF:            What are your expectations from Aashayein Foundation?

Soumali:     The most inspiring aspect of Aashayein is there volunteers. The senior volunteers are really sincere and dedicated. This motivates the Aashayein team, to work towards achieving a broader goal, be consistent, and expand its vision.

Personally, I would like to see Aashayein foundation expand its operations to more places.