In February this year, Rohini finished her final MBBS examinations and is now looking forward to a lifetime of saving lives. Having interned in government hospitals and served in rural areas as part of the curriculum, Rohini is well aware of the disadvantages, the poor people face, when it comes to good health and wishes she could dedicate all her time to providing free treatment. But in reality, she knows that it is impossible and she needs to make a decent living to pay off her education loan.
When a friend mentioned Doctors for Seva, a campaign started by Youth for Seva (YFS) that helps doctors volunteer in remote areas lacking medical help, Rohini realised that her wish may finally come true.
Started in 2007 in Bangalore, Youth for Seva is a platform for young people to give back to society. The mission of YFS is to inspire youth to volunteer, connect them to grassroots projects, and provide ongoing support and training to volunteers and NGOs. Be it teaching English in government schools or crafts at a summer camp or trying to cheer up young patients in cancer wards in the city, the organisation has been successful in bringing smiles to the faces of many, not only in Bangalore, but all over the country.
YFS has over 800 volunteers working for them, 123 schools, 40 hospitals and 120 doctors in their network in Bangalore alone and branches all over India in Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Bhopal, Pune and others.
YFS made a small beginning in Bangalore. Venkatesh Murthy, a Bangalorean working in the US left in the midst of a 14-year successful stint as a software professional to pursue his dream of setting up an organised volunteering network back home in India. Ask him what made him to leave a lucrative career and he says that he was inspired by the way volunteering was done in the US. “Community service is compulsory for high schoolers in US. They have a volunteer manager who helps engage them and guide them to do volunteer work,” Venkatesh Murthy says. He has also co-founded the Seva International in the US, on the lines of which YFS was formed here.
What sets this organisation apart is the model it has adopted to facilitate volunteering. “Many NGOs lack professionalism, don’t know how to approach corporates for funding and have no management system to scale up. In 2007, we started as a 7-member group and by 2008, our volunteer base grew to 800.
We never campaigned for YFS; it was through word of mouth and emails. Every month, we see 100 new volunteers enrolling with us and not only youth. Our aim is to make volunteering a movement,” he says.
Even corporates have roped in YFS for their corporate social responsibility programme by adopting schools through them. So far, in Bangalore, 30 schools have been adopted by corporates like Philips and Bosch.