Our journey began with Aditi Basu from Apeejay contacting us to apply for the NGO plus Individual volunteer awards category. We filled up the forms put up and thereafter forgot about it. After sometime, Aditi called up and said, could you please send me a picture of yours with the kids and a single snap of yours as well. I complied with her request little knowing that I was one of the 8 finalists competing for the Apeejay Surendra National Volunteer award 2011. The competition had over 1,000 applicants of which approximately 8 volunteers were chosen across the North, South, West and East region. This was followed by our interview with the Jury and a few interviews with the press.
Then they announced that we would have to travel to Delhi for the National Award ceremony. Our stay was arranged at The Park, Delhi. We reached Delhi on the 25th Sep 2011, after which we had a 3-4 hour session of interaction with the jury members. During the interaction session, we were asked to speak about the work we do, what our aim was as a volunteer and so on. Post interaction, the award ceremony began by 6pm that was chaired by Honourable Union Minister for Law and Justice Salman Khurshid. He handed over the awards to the winner as well as finalists and spoke a few words of praise and support to all. The winner in the individual volunteer category was Mr. Ram Sundher, who has devotedly spent 20 years on various causes. He has reached out to those in need of help when there was no one in sight. From patrolling the Ulsoor lake banks in a bustling part of Bangalore city during SSLC / PUC results to preventing dejected students who have failed from committing suicide, to helping people complete details in the form to claim a body at the morgue, the testimonials of his volunteering excellence are many.
Thereafter, the awards were handed over to the winners and finalists of other categories such as volunteers involving NGOs and Companies.
The good part was that we were the only NGO – GREAT Foundation that became a finalist in both the categories. Kudos to our entire team and especially all the hard working volunteers who have made this possible. Keep up the good work 🙂
The ceremony was closed with a speech from Shireen Paul, head of The Park Hotel group; followed by dinner.
This was another humbling experience since we met with like minded people from the same sphere, who had a common aim – upliftment of the underprivileged sector in some way or the other. There was more of a feeling of camaraderie compared to competition. It felt like ones mind was at peace looking that somewhere someone is doing something.
Brief about Jaslene: Jaslene Bawa is a financial analyst at Value Notes in Pune, and researches the Indian infrastructure sector. A double postgraduate from Pune University and a social worker on weekends, she works with GREAT Foundation in the role of a volunteer who teaches English and also as a volunteer co-coordinator who manages a group of volunteers. She believes that education is the key to liberation and awareness and has used methods that help achieve this belief.