Volunteering has been an amazing journey, full of new experiences and new friends.I have been able to get to see and do things that I may not have the chance to otherwise.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I come from a middle-class family and have experienced ups and downs in life while growing up. Many of us live extremely fortunate lives. I volunteer because I know it matters to people in need. I want to have those we help feel better about themselves and make a change in their life. By volunteering, I create memories that will last for my lifetime…perhaps beyond.
What activities have you been involved in?
As a Bechtel volunteer, I have been leading Engineers Without Borders (EWB) initiative in the National Capital Region of India. In the last four years, we have created a strong foundation of EWB India in our region, by successfully establishing our own professional chapter along with two student chapters. During this time, we collaborated with engineering student volunteers and non-government organizations (NGOs) to successfully execute two solar electrification projects in remote villages of India. The entire effort required multiple community visits, team meetings, price negotiations with vendors, overseeing construction activities, and institutionalization of project sustainability. The reward for these efforts is to see the transformation in the lives of more than 5000 residents of the villages.
What did you find most surprising about your experience as a volunteer?
The most surprising element is to see the NGOs becoming ‘business-like’, forgetting that their primary aim is to undertake community development and serve the interest of people in need. I hope to see principles of altruism, voluntarism, and professionalism from every registered not-for-profit organization.
What was the most rewarding part?
Volunteering has been an amazing journey, full of new experiences and new friends.I have been able to get to see and do things that I may not have the chance to otherwise. Volunteering has kept me mentally stimulated and developed new ways of thinking by being in an environment where people approach a matter in their own unique way and you have opportunity to either learn to adapt or influence their thinking patterns.
What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of your volunteer activity?
Apart from the need to invest personal time over a sustained period, managing diverse set of people during the planning and execution of the project is a major challenge. Converging various opinions and ideas into action plan sometimes is painful. It is important to understand that building consensus can be time-consuming, but it is the key to a successful project. The idea is to keep focus on the goal and engage with volunteers through forthright communication wherever required.
What, for you, has been the most important lesson?
Hard work isn’t always about making money, instead we can look at life as a labor of love. One of my life lessons learned from volunteering is that it allows us to get in touch with the deeper spirit and work hard for things in which we truly believe.
Do you think you inspire others to volunteer? In what way do you think you inspire others to volunteer?
I don’t believe I am an inspiration to anyone, but I am content with whatever little contribution I have made to society. It is heartwarming to see the difference only few of us have made to the lives of thousands of human beings. I am sure the world will be different if each one of us can contribute just that tiny bit towards the development of the communities where we live.
Engineers Without Borders
Engineers Without Borders works with local nonprofit partners and disadvantaged communities in nearly 50 countries to implement simple, sustainable engineering programs that help a community develop its human potential. Bechtel has established partnerships with EWB organizations in five countries: Australia, Chile, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.