Count Me In

Good Samaritan of the month – June 2016

There are few people I know who are true givers – when they serve or help someone in need with their right hand, even the left hand doesn’t get to know. One such person is our good samaritan of the month, Mrs. Tehnaz Bahadurji – a lady who dons many hats, each one with accomplished flair!

A volunteer for all seasons and deserving reasons, Chennai Volunteer is a channel she sought, to volunteer (with the less privileged) a few years ago and it’s been a wonderful association ever since. As a volunteer, she has a commanding and dignified presence, radiates positivity and you can see the young students look up to her with awe. She brings the perfect blend of compassion and firmness, sincerity and unflinching commitment to all her engagements.

Well-organised and efficient, she brings professionalism into her volunteering. She is a powerhouse of knowledge and helps out at various educational institutions. Tehnaz started volunteering at Spoken English sessions in one school and soon took on many more. Teaching Spoken English, developing content, writing proposals for partner NGOs, communications support for sponsorship during disaster relief, being an active blood donor, coaching young women for international exams in English (TOIEC), teaching visually challenged students, training young women etiquette and presence – her engagement continues to deepen and broaden with each passing month. She is always ready to help out…very often, at short notice! Today, Tehnaz is well known among volunteers and NGOs alike as she is active at our volunteer orientations. A core volunteer, she trains new volunteers on how the English sessions work. Her focused approach and candid nature makes her our inner conscience as well and she is a core volunteer for several long-term programmes.

Despite being active in several other organisations, shouldering important responsibilities and travelling across the globe, she is always there when you need her. As a true volunteer at heart, she has made volunteering an integral part of her life and I am sure she will inspire many more to do the same.


How some volunteers get it right

Skilled volunteering – using your skills to make a difference

Most professionals have a skill that they hone through years of hard work and experience. At their place of work, in office or outdoors, they do the same specified job for years and are used to applying the same skill everyday. It is their forte, their expertise and most often, their source of living. As a volunteer, they are often more comfortable extending the same skill set to people who need it and create a positive impact. You could be working in the services sector as a lawyer, techie, marketing exec, designer, doctor, accountant, project manager , percussionist, therapist, anything really – there must be a cause out there that can make use of your talent and expertise.

There are various reasons one volunteers. The driver could be one of a combination of some of these:

It is well-established that volunteering is key to abundant living. The more you dare, care and share, the more you will receive in terms of gratitude and fulfilment. Your life becomes enriched  through regular volunteering and you develop a new facet to your personality. It feeds your emotional quotient and your thinking becomes more encompassing.

Secondly, in our normal realm of living, we all seek challenge and this is what volunteering provides – an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, reach out to people completely unknown to you and make a positive impact in their life. The experience is very humbling and always gives us the passion to strive and do more. You want to help not yourself, not someone you know but someone who truly needs it.

Thirdly, everyone enjoys extending a helping hand and it is so simple that you get attracted to the sheer ease of doing good. Once you have bitten the bullet, volunteering your skill becomes the norm. Very often, people weave volunteering into the fabric of their being and seamlessly extend their skills for both, profit and pro bono.

It is also true that everyone is equal as a volunteer – the volunteering world is one space where everyone is a peer, regardless of their credentials and status. What you deliver is what makes you special. In fact, I would also say that the giver and receiver are both equal. You rediscover yourself for what you truly are, without the trappings of the competitive world and this keeps you rooted and grounded. Of course, you also meet new people, build new relationships and appreciate other people for what they are. You learn to respect people and think from their point of view.

Thankfully, there are volunteering initiatives that know how to match professionals and organisations – creating a spark of social good.

At Chennai Volunteers, we actively seek skilled volunteers for various volunteering requirements. From something as serious as a software platform that manages the residents’ database at an NGO to movement therapy for beneficiaries with special intellectual and physical needs; from accounting advice to interactive percussion sessions; from counselling to sports training.. you name it, we have facilitated such matches. The need and its corresponding skill or talent has varied but the one factor that remains constant is the resultant positive impact, accompanied by gratitude, fulfilment and genuine happiness that only selfless giving can achieve.


What is Chennai summer for our kids without some fun, both in and out of the sun!
This is true for all of us with children. With summer holidays just round the corner, we start thinking of how we can enrich them with new hobbies, creative learning and just simple fun. The children themselves look forward to this break when they can meet friends and family and have a great time pursuing what they enjoy the most.

Well, there are some children who actually dread these holidays, rather than looking forward to them. These holidays reiterate the fact that they have no one to go back home to when school shuts, no one who visits them during the holidays ….. in short, no one who cares.

CV curates summer camps at select children’s homes across our city, for two weeks each. We fill up their days with workshops by experts in theatre, dance, public speaking and music; sessions on science, math, reading, arts and craft; some fun with indoor games and outdoor sports. Based on what the children will enjoy, we fill up their days with volunteering activities. And today, as we approach the third summer of such camps, the children are waiting to hear from us!!

You could also join CV as we create centres of learning through fun for the children at our partner NGOs across Chennai. We seek volunteers who will join us for 2 hours a day ( morning or early evening, on weekdays or weekends ) from April 25 to May 7, to engage with children at various homes by teaching, organising creative sessions, recreational games and lots more.
If you are interested, please log onto and register as a volunteer or message us your details at 9840182299.


Women Volunteer


“ The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it”

– Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was a beacon of hope for the needy and continues to be an inspiration for many who want to do service for the helpless in their lifetime. While I do not believe that something as universal as volunteering can be limited by gender, International Women’s Day got me thinking about the history of women volunteers and a particularly celebrated one as well. The role of women as a voluntary force to be reckoned with can be traced back to World War 1 in 1914, when patriarchy was the norm and women did not work. During the war, almost 80,000 volunteers were mobilized in various support roles such as auxiliary nurses, ambulance drivers, teachers, cooks and workers in traditionally male jobs in factories. I am sure it was due to their indomitable spirit that some also went on to serve in combatant roles in Russia. They served in their home countries and sometimes even across borders. Several organizations such as QAIMNS (Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service), VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment), FANY(First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) and the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) were instituted for enterprising women volunteers who went beyond the call of duty and braved the conditions to help and serve. A similar trend can be seen in Indian history where women bravely led the way to serve selflessly, on and off the battlefields. We have all grown up reading stories of women working for those in need. In Modern History, we also hear of women like Mridula Sarabhai, a nationalist who was in charge of recruiting and training women volunteers for the Indian National Congress. Even after India became independent and moved away from the cries of war and freedom struggles; unfettered by political restraints, one person stands tall as a universal force in the world of service with a smile – Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997) also known as Blessed Teresa was an Albanian Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary. She was born in Skopje(Macedonia) from where she moved to Ireland at the age of 18 years and then to India, where she lived for most of her life. A true humanitarian, she spent many years working among those who were dying or sick. Mother Teresa chose to “serve the poorest of the poor and to live among them and like them.” She saw beauty in every human being. Along with others of the Missionaries of Charity, she strove to make the lives and deaths of those around them more peaceful and full of love. She fed, washed, and cared for anyone who needed the assistance. In 1950, Mother Teresa officially established the Missionaries of Charity with 12 members. Today, there are thousands of members (both men and women) of the Missionaries of Charity all around the world. Realizing the need for a home to care for those who were dying alone in the streets of Calcutta, Mother Teresa set up “Nirmal Hriday” which means the “Pure Heart.” Nirmal Hriday was a home where homeless, dying individuals were washed, given food, and allowed to die with dignity. As one of the most decorated nuns in the world, she wore her laurels with humility, only seeking how she could serve the helpless, the poor and needy. Though controversy stalked her a couple of times, she brushed it off with even more good work.

Mother Teresa is a huge inspiration for social workers and volunteers alike. She has left behind a rich legacy and her life demonstrates how good intent can be translated into selfless service by taking small steps in the right direction.

Even recently, she was in the news posthumously, for her canonization by the Vatican before the end of this year. On Women’s Day, we salute her and all women who epitomize the spirit of service and volunteering. At Chennai Volunteers, we see them everyday in our field of work and life and acknowledge the compassion and commitment they bring with them.

Good Samaritan of the month

Weaving a story on values.. Chennai Volunteers Spoken English session

“Some people want change to happen, some wish it to happen, others make it happen. ”

Our Samaritan for the month is our first official volunteer on the Chennai Volunteers portal. She was a friend who was already a ‘giver-at-heart’ and a regular volunteer for various causes at different NGOs

Today, Sonali Panjabi is known to most other volunteers as she is active during our volunteer orientations. Instrumental at the launch of Spoken English sessions at most new institutions, she trains new volunteers on how the sessions work. She started her association with Chennai Volunteers by teaching Spoken English with a group of us at Madras Sewa Sadan in 2011. Talented, engaging and fun, in a span of two years, she was simply everywhere! From a regular volunteer to a core coordinator to a team-lead for Spoken English, she has contributed to the growth of Spoken English at CV in a big way

As a volunteer, she radiates warmth, enthusiasm, a passion to teach and compassion for all. A lady with many skills, she runs her business, travels the globe and yet is always there as a Chennai Volunteer. Her radiant energy and positivity is what makes her special to all volunteers and students alike. She can now conjure up a Spoken English module for students promptly and is always up for a new challenge. She can create a story on the spot… depending on the situation, focus group and their requirement. She can make students sing, dance and move.. all in English! We call her the Pied Piper” of Spoken English sessions as the children just love their “Sonali Aunty” and she can’t get enough of them either!

Sonali has successfully woven volunteering into the fabric of her being. She graduated from teaching Spoken English to another cause – feeding the hungry! We know a returning volunteer by the force she (or he) carries with her. Sonali personifies that. She almost single-handedly led the entire “Serving Smiles” project during Daan Utsav 2015. In fact, she created an innovative methodology of making it a success while she was on the other side of the globe! She intuitively used the principles of remote volunteering in this case and it was a delight for all her, her friends who came together for her and the beneficiaries at our partner NGOs.

I am sure she will continue to surprise and delight all of us, in her imitable manner.. Our Good Samaritan for the month, Mrs. Sonali Panjabi reiterates the adage that good things come in small packages.

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