By Sai Sajja
Volunteering and how I am addicted to it!!
Most of us wish to contribute to the society, however we often don’t know how we could do that. We might have questions like: What can I do? Is it going to make a difference? Am I capable of bringing the change? Is it worth it? And with many questions like these, we usually don’t take the next step.
I was in the same boat for many years. Here’s my story:
I am very privileged to be born in a family where I never had to ask for anything. My parents always gave me the things I needed and wanted, even before I asked for them. I was not exposed to any of the harsh problems in life. I came to do my Masters in the U.S, started working after I graduated, got married and was having the time of my life.
But something was irking me. I had a feeling that I was not doing enough with my life. I thought I was wasting away my precious time. I always wanted to give back to the society but was not sure how. I donated money to the organizations I believed in and wanted to fund education for children who could not afford it. All this was great, however I was not content. I still felt empty. I wanted to do something that was more hands on.
I have then heard about CRY (Child Rights & You). CRY America is a non-profit organization driven by its vision of a just world in which all children have equal opportunities to develop to their full potential and realize their dreams.
I started volunteering for CRY. I was connected to the cause right away as I strongly believe in empowering children for a better future. We raise funds by organizing several fund raising events throughout the year. I loved their model.
My volunteering journey started with Holi, the festival of colors. We meet every Monday to plan for the events. A lot of planning goes behind the scenes for a successful event. I very well remember, I stood for more than 6 straight hours on Holi and my legs were hurting. I was not able to walk anymore but did not want to take a break. I kept going. We had a very successful event. I loved how it made me feel like I am a part of it. The happiness I experienced that day was unbeatable. As they say, the rest is history. Before I knew, I was addicted.
We have a wonderful team of volunteers and call it our CRY family. We organize several events throughout the year and the volunteers spend a lot of time and effort to make sure the event is successful. We give attention to detail and make sure our patrons have a wonderful experience. It all feels worth it when we count the money raised and knowing how many lives that would impact. Even after toiling for long hours for the event, we all hang around discussing about it late into the night. A very passionate and motivated group.
I recently went to a CRY Volunteer conference in New York that further strengthened my passion. There, I heard a few stories. Stories that I was having a hard time accepting. Real life stories that I did not think existed anymore.
I was told there is a small village in India that has never seen a 100 rupee note/bill (less than 2 dollars). I was flabbergasted. In fact, I was in denial. I was so oblivious of the problems that still existed. I was in shock when I was told another story.
In another village in India, the under-privileged were forced to carry their footwear on their head when they passed through the wealthy neighborhood. I was beyond shocked. I thought such discrimination did not exist anymore. I felt stupid not knowing such issues are still prevalent.
I heard more stories on how children are denied of their basic rights. Basic rights for food, education and shelter. CRY India works with the grassroots organizations to help eliminate the problems children face, by empowering the communities they are a part of. I learned about the challenges they face in doing so and how many resources it takes to do that. I further realized how much more there is to do.
What I am doing felt like a drop in the ocean however I now realize how important that drop is.
P.S: I had goosebumps writing this.
If you are interested in volunteering for CRY, please visit: http://america.cry.org/site/events/volunteers.html
If you would like to donate, please visit: https://america.cry.org/site/participate/donation.html. Every penny counts.
And last but not the least, please do support us by attending our events. We will make sure you have a great time while making a difference in the lives of under-privileged children and their communities.