Volunteer Den – Vijayanand Rao

Vijayanand has been a Bhumian, as well as TFI fellow. Read further to learn more about his enthralling experiences at both Bhumi and TFI. (Click here to know more about TFI fellowship)

Bhumi is a world of experience …

My decision to volunteer with Bhumi changed my life forever. Bhumi is a world of experience, my journey with the institution helped me shift my career from IT to education, and I could not be happier. Bhumi teaches you to think beyond personal benefits. It’s the coming together of like-minded people and work towards one dream – Education. It’s a place of joy filled with vibrant, skilled youngsters and they instantly become your family. Bhumi helped me refine skills like teamwork, fundraising, delegation, collaboration, planning etc. To be honest teaching was never in my list. It was Bhumi’s unparalleled dedication towards education, that inspired me to work collectively towards a cause. Life has changed and I see more smiles around me since then.

From drugs to books …

I was an IT professional and it was during my engineering days that I started volunteering with Bhumi. This incident happened in 2008 and it was my first time volunteering with Bhumi. My initial assignment was to teach computers to a handful of students at a learning centre in a village 30KMs from Chennai. The programme was conducted during the weekends. In course of time, we noticed that there were many dropouts. It was then we realized that some of the boys who dropped out were addicted to homemade liquid concoction that gives them a high. Bhumi adopted the boys, they were given special attention, and they eventually went on to be class toppers.

All they need is a platform …

This incident made me realise that all they (children who are denied basic education) need is a platform to perform. They are enthusiastic about learning, but this tool called education must be provided. This is where committed and change driven institutions like Bhumi can bring in a huge change. NGOs like Bhumi provide a space to work with the civil society and hold institutions accountable to provide education to all children equally without discrimination. Working with Bhumi for two and a half years solidified my faith in education.

Teach for India was an enriching experience

My experience at TFI was very exciting. The learning was deep, and the environment was enriching. TFI is one institution that gives its volunteers and employees the freedom to experiment. The resources that the institution has at their disposal for guidance was more than what I could have asked for. When I joined TFI, I was figuring out how to navigate through the fellowship; but by the time, I completed my term with TFI, I was so attached to the field that I have never looked back since then. 

Bhumi offers as much as you explore …

I must tell the future and current Bhumi volunteers that the institution offers you as much as you explore. This is one place that doesn’t spoon-feed you. One must keep his/her learning curve always high and explore all the possibilities that Bhumi has for them. Bhumi provides the opportunity to build that drive in you to educate and share the joy and learn from each other. 

I remember how in 2009, when Bhumi launched Nakshatra, there were about 75 volunteers to raise funds for the programme. It was a rollercoaster ride for us. 800 children from about 35 orphanages participated. I remember how we managed all the funds required for the programs in the 11th hour. Bhumi teaches you collective ownership and the art of working together for a common dream. Bhumi is an institution that breathes change and creativity. It welcomes ideas and reaches out to volunteers who are willing to pitch in. It’s a journey that every student or working professional should not miss.

Currently, I work for Learning Links Foundation, a not-for-profit in the education space. I work with a large-scale education program covering about 30,000 and more children spread across Tamil Nadu in 333 schools. Apart from this, I also handle programs in AP, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.