Cognizant, as part of its employee engagement programme launched GiveIndia's Payroll Giving Programme (PRG) earlier this year. More than 3,000 employees have signed on to the programme , donating roughly Rs 7.5 lacs p.m. to different causes through various NGOs across the country. A visit for all employees of the company was organised by GiveIndia in an attempt to provide donors the opportunity to see for themselves the difference that they were and potentially could make to the lives of the less privileged.
We present to you here an account from Aarti one of our long-term volunteers who co-ordinated the visit from our end and gave us this lovely hands-on account of the trip
At 8:30 AM a small group of 10 employees set off in a van to visit Sevalaya, which was about an hour from the city. Our drive to the NGO was not as uneventful as we thought it would be :-). For starters, Ramu who was the SPOC from CTS had not actually met any of the others that we were picking up enroute - so he had to coordinate the exact location where a person had to wait,describe the van, which had the name of another large IT company on it(!!!) and also ask for the colour of the person's apparel to ensure that we were indeed picking up the 'right person'. :-) Just like any project that is undertaken at Cognizant, all the hurdles were overcome as Ramu did an outstanding job and everyone was in the van by 9:30 AM, all set for the long drive to Sevalaya.
We arrived at Sevalaya at about 10:45 AM, to be warmly welcomed by Jayanti, Sevalaya's trustee who told us all the history of the organisation, its vision and values, its activities, achievements and plans for the future over a much needed nice hot cup of coffee and biscuits. We then were given a quick tour of the vast school, the computer lab, and the classrooms which were abuzz with the happy chatter of children. the group then split up into two - some of us proceeded to the primary section. It was their play time and it was simply wonderful to see the faces of many happy toddlers who ran upto us enthusiastically to show us their play things- balls of different sizes, coloured blocks , a rocking duck meant for two but a la desi style had 4 children on it trying to rock it back and forth and actually managing to do so too :-). We had a blast with the little ones while some others in the group had started on a game of cricket with a group of older boys.
Couple of the team decided that cricket was far too common place and played a short high energy game of volley ball - these were with the high school boys. The girls in our team thought up an interesting guessing game and taught it to a bunch of shy at first and giggly girls who had a barrage of questions for them on their job, where they were from, what they liked and didn't and soon it was hard to hear anything above the din being caused by the friendly and excited chatter of a bunch of 15 year old teenage girls.
We then went on to meet the elderly in the residential care centre , just to say hello because it was nearly 1:45 PM and time for their siesta. As we trooped across to the centre from the school amid lush green paddy fields, all a result of the organic farming pioneered in the area by Sevalaya and some of the school students, we couldn't help admiring again the commitment of the Sevalaya family that was making all this change happen. Well, we went to meet some of the elderly- it was evident that they were taken very good care of . One of them complained that she wasn't allowed to watch the re run of the TV serials by the others but she needed to because she was unable to remember the episode details from the previous evening :-)!! The others of course shushed her quickly retorting that she was just being difficult amid great mirth. It was really heartening to see them all happy and cheerful and once again, we realised how much work the Sevalaya team would have put into making this happen.
We walked back to our van , after a wonderful 2 hours of interaction, overwhelmed by the experience but hopefully also returning with the resolve that we could try and participate in making the change happen by supporting efforts like that of Sevalaya and others. Here is what some of them had to say after the visit.