A rush of excitement of knowing that high school was ending, was made even more special by the thought of FINALLY having the time to do something…something meaningful. The plan (or lack of it rather) was to spend 6 months travelling and volunteering both in my city, Mumbai and the rest of India. Teaching, writing, taking photographs, helping in mobile clinics, you name it!
Unfortunately though, with the dwindling of graduation’s euphoria, I also saw the disappearing of these aspirations. Maybe it was my naïve 18 year old self, at that time that couldn’t find appropriate contacts to get the opportunities that I sorted. What exactly did I want to do and who could I contact? What could I offer and what did they need?.. It just was a big blur. On the other hand, a simple Google search for Volunteering in Costa Rica and USA for example, yielded (literally) a lifetime worth of choices. Did India really not have a strong volunteer platform? Surely I was missing something, right?
My dwindling hopes were almost shattered when I found much the same case with my attempts to volunteer in my own city, Mumbai. I must confess, I did get the right phones numbers and e-mail addresses, but in response to my enthusiasm I either received emails of rejection(mostly they organizations weren’t sure what I could do for them) or unanswered phone-calls. It seemed apparent that opportunities existed; they had to, after all we are a country of over a billion people. The problem was the structure… or a lack thereof.
Today, four years later, as an alumni of several volunteering projects across Canada, USA, Costa Rica and Panama, I can’t be more thrilled to know my city, the very metropolis that frustrated me, is striving to set things right. Connectfor, is daring to do something that not only Mumbai needs, but has long been waiting for. It is daring to provide that very structure that my 18 year old enthusiastic self so dearly longed for. It is aiming to connect organizations and volunteers, streamlining and simplifying the process of volunteering. Imagine all those youth and their bubbling energy FINALLY being channeled towards defined goals. And it doesn’t need to stop there; our moms, our dads, anyone can join, because honestly Connectfor’s: simplicity is its beauty.
I would be lying if I said that I regret volunteering in the places that I did, but I would certainly would want to say one thing: the people of Mumbai need to maintain (or increase) their enthusiasm for doing “something meaningful”, as Connectfor is there to channel that enthusiasm! I have gotten connected…. Have you?
Munib is a wildlife biologist, currently working on a project with National Geographic.
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