By Manpreet Singh Ahuja, Partner & Leader, Risk Assurance Services
The word "success" has different meanings for all of us. Ever since the start of my corporate career, being successful at work has been the prime focus. Earlier this year, my mentor challenged me and asked me to participate in community initiatives as that was something I hadn’t done so far. The work done by PwC India Foundation and stories from its Vice Chairman, Jaivir Singh over the last couple of years had left me inspired but I never really got to be a part of volunteering initiatives until recently.
My initiation into community giving started with an offsite employee volunteering activity that PwC India Foundation planned with Aasra Trust in Dehradun. Aasra Trust supports schooling, lodging and meal costs of over 5000 children. These children belong to poor economic and socially vulnerable backgrounds, and most of them reside in slums. The NGO staff visits their neighbourhoods and convinces parents of these children to send them to school, which is not an easy task. But they seem to be doing this successfully for over 11 years now!
I decided to travel to Dehradun for the volunteering along with 20 colleagues from Risk Assurance Services practice team. The trip started with an early morning 5-hour train journey, which was a lot of fun. For us, it was not just a way to give back to the society but also a perfect opportunity to bond with the team.
We reached Aasra Trust at around 1pm and were extremely excited to start the day. We met the NGO staff members and heard about the kind of challenges they face in their day to day jobs. We focused on how they could build a collaborative work culture, manage their finances efficiently, use tools to deliver better results. We also conducted workshops for teachers on critical thinking and creative problem solving. The teachers play a crucial role in retaining the children in a school and making an impact in their lives. Through love, understanding and respect, the teachers inspire the children to continue their education. This is a tough job given the background many of these children come from where education is not prioritised.
At the core of our journey was our interaction with the school children from class 8 to 12. We met 300+ students and (hopefully!) inspired them to chase their dreams. We shared real life examples and stories on how the impossible can turn into I am possible. We also organised workshops on communication skills, career counselling and vocational opportunities, conducted mock interviews for them and showed them videos to keep them engaged.
The experience was overwhelming. Though the intention was to make a difference to the NGO and the children, there were several takeaways for me, which will remain with me for the rest of my life. The two key thoughts are:
This made me realise how we keep chasing things to make ourselves and our families happy, whereas happiness is just a state of mind. It is an attitude that can make us much more resilient in life.
The volunteering was a two-way learning experience. I took away with me some great life lessons much like the children and staff took from us. I can’t thank PwC India Foundation enough for giving me this opportunity which gave me a fresh perspective to look at things
PwC India Foundation, PwC India
Tel: + 91 124 4620114