Sustainable Community Volunteering in India
By Ajay Shresti, APAC Programs Manager, Salesforce.org
The Salesforce team in India may not be as big as in San Francisco or London, but what we lack in size, we make up for in our commitment to giving back to the community. Since joining Salesforce.org in 2015 I have had the pleasure of helping to achieve our mission in India by engaging with commuintities, managing impact programs and coordinating volunteering activities for our local staff.
During Earth Month, a team from the Bangalore and Hyderabad Salesforce offices, along with their families travelled to Karkihalli village, which is part of the drought stricken area of Karnataka, to work with the community, teaching them about hygiene practices and how to apply practical methods to keep their village clean and how to manage waste.
This volunteering activity was part of an ongoing collaboration program with ‘The Energy and Research Institute’, an organisation whose aim is to create innovative solutions for a sustainable future.
For the activity, 14 of us traveled over 400km to the village.
We were welcomed with flowers by the villagers and their children. Seeing how much our visit meant to them was truly touching.
Our goal for the two days was to create awareness of cleanliness and hygiene, educating the village about best practices and showing them ways to manage these tasks themselves. In India, hygiene is a widespread problem. There are 880 million people living in rural India, with only 440 million having access to a toilet. Because of this, people are at a much higher risk of contracting diseases and leading shorter lives.
On the first day, we worked with the school children, teaching them simple, but important ways to make sure they kept clean, and didn’t spread germs. We then held a community meeting to discuss personal hygiene practices with the women and men of the village.
On day two, we wanted to show the villagers how easy it could be to keep their community clean. Working together, we cleaned the village roads and placed bins at every street corner. The team even painted the bins green and red to highlight which is meant for dry waste, and which for wet waste.
After a well deserved lunch, we planted some saplings in the grounds of the village library to brighten the place up, and the villagers took a pledge to water them daily. We’re excited to see how they grow!
“…knowing that your are contributing to something bigger than yourself gives a sense of fulfillment and community spirit that is truly precious.”
Volunteering a little bit of your time can do so much for a small community like Karkihalli. In two days, we empowered the villagers to take care of their own hygiene and their surroundings, so that when we’re gone, they can continue to enjoy better hygiene and a more beautiful and sustainable environment in which to live.
We as volunteers also got something special out of it. The feeling of giving back is incomparable to anything else – knowing that your are contributing to something bigger than yourself gives a sense of fulfillment and community spirit that is truly precious!
Check out more volunteering stories, here >>
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