A sound education could well be the shortest route to the basic necessities of life — food, clothing and shelter. This is the logic guiding youngsters inspired by Swami Vivekananda who have come together to set up an organisation called Youth For Seva (YFS), an initiative of Sewa International.
The first YFS was set up in Bengaluru in 2007 by Venkatesh Murthy, an engineer who set up the organisation on his return from the US. Slowly, the organisation acquired a presence in other cities — Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Bhopal and Delhi. The centre in Kachiguda, Hyderabad, was established in 2010 to connect youth to grassroots projects, and provide ongoing support and training to volunteers and NGOs. Currently, YFS Hyderabad has eight full-time volunteers and 350 volunteers on record. As most of the volunteers are from the IT and IT-enabled sector, plans are afoot to shift base to HITEC City.
Project Manager K Sesha Aditya was working with a real estate firm before the urge to do something meaningful saw him volunteering full-time for a year. “My parents are wholeheartedly supporting me,” he says.
Aditya and his colleagues at YFS are channelising their energy towards education, health, the environment and aiding the visually challenged. College students and homemakers help out on weekends.
“Since the government and many NGOs already provide midday meals at schools, the YFS seeks to build on this by making education livelier,” he says. With this in mind, they have come up with the idea of distributing school kits consisting of a bag, five long notebooks, two pens, a geometry box (crayons for primary school children), 20 labels and a steel plate for midday meals. “In many schools, we saw children eating food on paper and hence the steel plate as an item in the kit,” adds Aditya.
In 2010, YFS distributed 2,000 kits; the following year 3,000 and this year plans are on to distribute a whopping 10,000. “In the first week of June, volunteers gathered at the Vivekananda Degree College, Kukatpally, to pack 5,000 kits. Schools in the city and rural areas have been identified for distribution,” he says. The organisation is looking for support from corporates and individuals. One kit costs Rs 300 and every bit of help counts.
As part of the fund-raising drive, the YFS organised a music concert by Tollywood singer Hemachandra at the Sri Sathya Sai Nigamagamam in the month of June.
Some volunteers teach in government schools, for instance, at the Jagatgirigutta rickshaw-pullers colony at Kukatpally. Currently, YFS has nearly 25 projects going on in various schools. “Our volunteers supplement regular teaching by making the subject lively and interactive. Experimental science and mathematics kits too are used,” explains Aditya. The YFS also conducts health camps and clues students in on environmental issues. “Many volunteers also help the children with their tuitions, play games and organise various cultural activities,” adds Aditya.
Anyone wishing to volunteer may write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Aditya at 9885198292.