Supporting India’s most vulnerable during COVID-19

For Amiteshwar Palanivelrajan, from Chennai, India, the pandemic has sparked in him a desire to help the most vulnerable in society. Here, he tells us about the crowdfunder he has initiated as part of his Voluntary Service.

The International Award for Young People [IAYP] has been a very fruitful journey with a view to equipping me for a more meaningful life. Over the course of six months, I worked towards my Bronze Award. Through the programme, I improved my guitar (Skills section) and football (Physical Recreation) skills with a lot of passion and perseverance. Another crucial and enjoyable part was the Adventurous Journey. This was a stress buster during a year of rigorous academics and was also extremely educational and enriched my understanding.

But the section that taught me most was my involvement in Voluntary Service. This experience, in fact, taught me how to be a socially responsible citizen and how to be modest and diligent. I had the craving and longing to stretch myself beyond the restricted canvass of Voluntary Service for the six months and hence I decided to take it further by endeavouring to of grow to my fullest potential.

COVID-19 has changed the face of the entire world in the past couple of months. It has gravely affected the lives of thousands and livelihoods of millions of people from all sections of society. But the most affected, by far, are the people from the underprivileged sections. I reflected on the conundrum, whether there is any disease worse than hunger. The situation of the underprivileged section is heart-wrenching. Fuelled by the urge that something had to be done to assist daily wage workers who struggle to acquire essential commodities, including food items, in these trying times, I embarked on the journey of raising funds for them.

Amit from India

With the motivation from my Head of School, IAYP Award Leaders and parents, I contacted certain key persons at The Banyan, a city-based NGO that is dear to my heart, where I have volunteered my time previously. The Banyan is a nest for the ones whom society has turned away, including the mentally challenged and daily wage workers. I undertook basic research and came across ‘Fuel A Dream’, a crowdfunding organisation based in Bangalore. My mentors there supported me in learning the art and science of crowdfunding mobilisation. I studied basic Economics and concluded that a minimum of Rs 3000 is required for the nominal sustenance of one family, and was convinced that a direct transfer of funds to the bank accounts of those people is an optimal way to help them without diluting their dignity. As a small gesture, I planned to mobilise funds for 15 families for three months as the adverse impact of lockdown would linger on for a longer period.

Amit from India

I then launched my campaign for the clients of The Banyan that would use this money to support daily wage workers during the lockdown by way of direct transfer. I planned on raising INR 1,35,000, but ended up raising INR 2,44,800 (£2, 492) in just 14 days. This humbling experience taught me about human compassion and empathy, and showed that everyone has a purpose in life and if one decides to help someone, one has to persist until one achieves it. However small this act was, it gave me a tremendous sense of gratification and truly made me a better person. I intend to continuously do more work for people in need until it becomes my second nature.

The details of my campaign may be viewed by accessing here.