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An Inspiring Workshop for Volunteers

The author is a development consultant. He is interested in writing research-based articles.

Volunteers having group discussion

Volunteers having group discussion

Workshop Cultivated Total Participation

In the early 2019, I conducted a workshop for the volunteers of Institute for Indian Mother and Child (IIMC), a voluntary organisation working in India. The plan of the workshop was found to be useful in encouraging the participants to draw full attention and to discover their inner strength to find their inner strength to improve their voluntary service. The participants took interest to listen to keynote speeches, to have group discussion, to take consensus decision and to share their composite understanding with all.

A Conducive Scheduled Activity Programme for Workshop

In the beginning a detail work schedule explained what would be the day's activities, clarifying the allotted time for all activities. Participants welcomed two keynote speakers who—one for a day—who delivered keynote speeches on the essence of voluntary service and the perpetual problem in Indian societies. They, however, took the keynote speeches as a mere impetus to forge their own opinion, suggestion and idea on voluntary service. They achieved this capability working for a long time with IIMC by exercising their free minds as volunteers for the empowerment of poor mothers and children. They took their time to further their individual opinion. And the path of furthering their viewpoints was paved by listening to keynote speeches, asking questions, doing group-discussion, finding main points, reporting group-decision to all participants and having general discussion.

Participating volunteers

Participating volunteers

Their Voluntary Service was Recognised by IIMC

As a reasonable voluntary organisation, IIMC valued the service of participating volunteers. The organisation admitted that with the help of volunteer's valuable service, it was able to run its development activities successfully. IIMC went through many ups and downs but the volunteers carried on their service as steadily and sincerely as possible. IIMC now stood head-high as the largest voluntary organisation in West Bengal, India. Dr. Sujit Brahmochary, the leader of the organisation, would not be able to get this accomplishment on his own unless the solid togetherness of the volunteers cultivated a synergic effect in providing their service.

Participating volunteers

Participating volunteers

They Intended to Develop their Inner Strength

They were determined to improve their service delivery, which would ultimately strengthen IIMC. They assumed that to achieve this end, the workshop was an ideal venue. Extensive sharing of experiences and ideas created a helpful environment to discover their inner strength. This achievement would not only give them self-satisfaction, mental strength and confidence, but it would also enhance the IIMC's endeavour of empowering poor mothers and children. The fact was that IIMC depended on their service. The more they would raise the standard of their service, having a cascade-effect, the more high standard would become the IIMC’s service to poor mothers and children.

Setting Exclusive Goal to Enhance their Inner Strength

To invigorate the inner strength, volunteers streamlined their own goal. It was realised that if the participating volunteers would embrace IIMC's goal as their own goal—without any division, difference, contradiction—they would be able to increase their inner strength and enjoy their service manifold in serving poor mothers and children.

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They Discovered How to Achieve the Inner Strength

The volunteers should employ a practice to expand their awareness, belief and inspiration more to help IIMC to reach its goal. They must begin by recognising their intelligence, work and IIMC as the principal target to strengthen the quality of their voluntary service. They realised, ‘If intelligence is taken as the aim, work as the religion and organisation as the unity, then a celebration of high standard of voluntary service is in order’.

What Would be the Impact of the Gained Inner Strength

This achievement would bring a profound self-satisfaction, confidence and determination for the volunteers, which they could use not only for the benefit of IIMC but also for the welfare of societies or the country. If this outcome was taken on board, not only IIMC would be benefited, but also any other organisation would be able to improve their voluntary service. This realisation made all the volunteers feel a huge personal gain to animate their inner strength. It seemed this understanding prepared them to serve more empathetically.

Analysing World Development

The volunteers looked into the gradual change of the world. Human being developed the world to the present stage and learnt to survive together against numerous odds. But this progress was feeding the people’s greed more than need. People were now able to capture whole world in the tiny screen of mobile phone, yet unfortunately leaving behind millions of them in starvation. For example, India officially became self-sufficient in food production in 1960, but many people still extended their empty bowl to others, and the volunteers felt this was a kind of ‘unconscious development’.

Pinpointing India's Problem

Indian’s actual problem could be pinpointed by the predicament encountered by its children and women. The volunteers found that a huge dropout of students in school education, and the majority of this failure were female students. The reasons were many: most girls stopped going to school when they came to puberty not finding adequate privately secured toilet facilities, protection from men’s pestering, discouragement from parents and so on. They ultimately ended up in early marriage. After marriage women’s second lag of suffering began, going to ‘husband’s home’'. There they were deprived of most of the basic requirements, including love. As their experience went, in rural West Bengal, most children and mothers struggled in poverty; they had hardly either physical or mental strength to find their confidence of bringing change in their own lives.

Dr. Sujit Brahmochary makes his concluding comments.

Dr. Sujit Brahmochary makes his concluding comments.

Suggestions for Resolving the Problem

This unfortunate situation called for vigour, energy and liveliness for both poor children and women. The beginning must be started with providing the children and women fundamental basic needs: food, clothing, housing, health and education. This vital support would make them rejuvenate to adopt education, economic and health improvement activities. Thus, they would be able to pave a path of sustainable empowerment.

What should be the Volunteer's Role

Foremost, the volunteers must see only human beings in need of help, without deviating themselves. They no way should consider, not even think, the service-recipient’s race, caste, religion, creed and colour. They must bear secularism in their heart. Service to the people was not be forgotten. Always, attention should be given to uphold their patience and to pay respect and value to the help-seekers. The volunteers found that service-oriented help was the key to all development works. Service-oriented help could be turned into an unfailing means to win the people’s heart and to understand the real needs for their development. No point to argue for or against the service to the people. All volunteers agreed that serving the helpless was in practice in the country from the time immemorial. Finally, they all vowed: ‘let us not forget what we have learned from the workshop, better to keep it in mind and practise it’.

A section of participating volunteers at the end of the workshop.

A section of participating volunteers at the end of the workshop.

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