Not for the Income, but for the Outcome – Social Service in Manipal
In our blithe and content university town, there is a considerably large group of people who are not as privileged as the rest. Often born without land, amenities, or shelter, their lives have become an everyday struggle. In those moments, it is true that something as simple as a smile can have a ripple effect. The extent or methodology of giving doesn’t matter – what matters is the thought behind it. On stepping out of their comfort zone, many people our own age selflessly give and give.
Whether it’s an extraordinary feat or a daily duty, social service touches lives everywhere – of those receiving it, providing it, or even reading about it. From the cheerful glint in the eyes of a child receiving education, to the sweet repose of the aged under the protection of the young, there is boundless beauty in giving.
“After four years, I’m walking again because of you”.
This tearful affirmation was delivered by a helpless, old woman in the very first medical camp organized by the Scio foundation. After being provided with apt treatment, she went on to continue the procedure of rehabilitation in Scio’s partner hospital (Apollo Hospital, Ramanthapur, Telangana).
In one of the medical camps organized by Scio, an indelible anecdote was created when a man seemed peculiarly calm and composed while his electrocardiographic reading indicated a heart attack. Being in the right place at the right time saved his life.
Living up to their theme of socio-adventure, RedX managed to save a man’s life by using their adventure tools. While repairing an electric pole like on any other day, a worker had received a dangerous electric shock. Stuck to the pole and burning with incessant pain, he had but a veneer of hope as the group of youngsters who were previously engrossed in an adventure sport nearby rushed to his rescue. Maintaining level-headedness and skills like professionals, they used their harnesses and mattresses to pull the man down to safety.
Disha, the social-service wing of RedX, has rigorously adopted some schools in and around Manipal as family. They provide them with water purifiers, books, clothes, and E-learning kits. These E-learning kits include sizeable screens, projectors, and interesting educational videos. Having sponsored the education of 35 financially weak children on the verge of dropping out, Disha regularly sends volunteers to teach in the associated schools – ensuring that the students assimilate knowledge without any hindrances.
Sunburn, their fund-raising event, has enabled them to completely finance the education of the associated schools’ girl toppers. With boiling passion and clear goals, RedX now plans to set up a vocational center for the unemployed – with their very own Computer Lab!
Engineers Without Borders (EWB)
Incorporating engineering skills into social service, Engineers without Borders designed a toilet block for Pragati Nagar – a small-scale migrant community that only has 8 working toilets for 700 residents. Structures for rain water harvesting and water-less urinals are under construction. ‘Shramdaan’ days will be held for volunteers interested in participating in the construction of these eco-toilets. Other than that, EWB also plans to bring about the establishment of a government-funded kindergarten to inculcate in children the habit of maintaining sanitation.
Volunteer Services Organisation (VSO)
We sat in awe on the red plastic chairs of Apoorva mess as Varun Keri, the head of VSO, spoke about their incredible contribution in the field of social service. The Volunteer Services Organization, VSO, is the official social wing of the Manipal University. With a team of 3000 volunteers, including students from different wings and institutions, the organization has embarked upon many projects that cater to every sector of the society. “It’s a happy feeling, seeing them smile,” said Varun.
Weekly programs which involve visits to orphanages, old age homes, pediatric wards, and homes for the mentally-challenged are just a small part of the huge tasks they’ve undertaken. “We take them for walks to End Point and play games with them”, said Varun, as he spoke at length about how VSO visits ASARE, a home for special children, and how seeing those innocent smiles was a beautiful feeling.
Apart from this, the Clean Manipal campaign and visits to Nittur state home for children are also some of the weekly projects that VSO works upon. Special fund-raising programmes like Tarang (a kite-flying festival) and Sparsh (a cultural festival) take place once every one or two years. However, simple acts like providing tea to the security guards of Manipal, fresh water to the bus drivers, and air masks to the Traffic policemen stand apart and showcase how simple efforts can create a huge difference.
Rotaract Club of Manipal
“No work beneath us, no task beyond” is what the Rotaract Club of Manipal emphasizes on. The club works day and night to achieve the laborious goal of providing equal service to all by organizing blood donation camps, visits to orphanages and old age homes, and conducting fund-raising programs.
“We organize CCPs – where students spend an entire day at old age homes, orphanages, and homes for special children” proudly claimed the Rotaract President, Rahul Kedar. Their latest achievement was “Dhol Baje”, a dandiya function, where the club was able to raise a hefty sum of about One Lakh Rupees. This amount was donated to two orphanages. Apart from this, The Local Train concert was a huge success and the funds were donated for the noble cause of ‘women education’.
Focussing not just on the community, but also on the environment, clubs like ‘Akshay Urja’ and ‘Echo Manipal’ work towards creating a sense of environmental awareness amongst the students. They have been active in this domain, trying to create a greener, healthier environment.
This is Manipal. One city, a dozen clubs, and one common objective. For organizations and clubs like VSO, Rotaract, EWB, Scio, RedX, Echo Manipal, and Akshay Urja, the community is of utmost importance. Their work clearly reflects their goals and instills a sense of respect amongst us, inspiring every individual to do their bit for the society – to step out of the comfort of lying lazily on their beds on a Sunday and work for the community. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”