Students of technical colleges do different things in their spare time. Many are glued to their laptops to chat with their friends and family members through social networking sites while many others engage themselves in sporting activities. Some prefer to head for a theatre or a shopping mall.
But, Abhay Mohanta and a few of his friends are different. They have formed a group called “We Care 4 You” to do social service. Their passion for social work continued even after they passed out from their colleges as they turned the small group into a full fledged non-governmental organisation (NGO) called “We 4 You”.
The Bhubaneswar-based NGO, which works in different fields, is unique as most of its 500-odd members are former students or those studying in different colleges in and around the Odisha capital. Many NGO members have given up their lucrative jobs to work full-time with the organisation.
“A well paid job will give you happiness for a day– the day you get your monthly pay slip. But social service gives us happiness and satisfaction everyday,” said 26-year-old Mohanta, the “We 4 You” secretary and a former student of a Bhubaneswar-based engineering collage.
According to Mohanta, they had formed the small social service group in the college as they were interested in it right from their childhood. However, the idea to have a full functioning NGO came in 2010 when they were holding a blood donation camp in a Bhubaneswar engineering collage.
The programme was a great success as out of a total number of 600 students in the college, 514 turned up to participate in the camp. “It was very encouraging and we felt very happy. We decided to form a full functioning NGO and We 4 You was born,” said Mohanta.
The NGO was registered in 2010. And Mohanta and his colleagues have not looked back since. Besides holding blood donation camps and organising other social service activities, We 4 You is running a successful initiative called the “Red Express”. Under the programme, the NGO has prepared a data base of 5,000 people, mostly students and ex-students of different colleges in the state who are always ready to donate their blood in emergencies.
“The programme runs 24×7 basis and these volunteers donate blood at regular intervals. Those who receive the blood include small children suffering from Thalassemia,” said Chandra Mohan Baral (24), another member of the NGO. In this context, he said that 80 per cent of the people who donate blood in a city like Bhubaneswar are students.
We 4 You is having another successful programme under which it produces “audio books” in CD format for visually impaired students. “The visually challenged students mainly depend on classroom teaching (what the teachers speak in the class) as specialised books for them are not easily available.
Therefore, our members lend their voice to make the audio CD of their text books which we distribute among the visually impaired students”, informed Bhawani Shankar Parida (26), another member of the NGO which has already distributed more than 2,000 audio books benefiting about 10,000 students. We 4 You, in fact, has begun an effort to set up a specialised studio in Bhubaneswar to produce audio books for the visually challenged students.
The NGO also runs awareness campaign on regular basis for eye donation which has also become a big success. “People usually think that if one declares to donate his or her eye then after his or her death the entire eye will be removed. Very few people know that only eye ball or clear transparent tissue is removed. Hence, there is a need for creating awareness on this,” said Bibhuti Das (22), an
interior who has also joined the NGO.
Other initiatives run by We 4 You include computer and spoken English programmes for under privileged
students, particularly in orphanages and slum areas. The activities and works of the NGO have already been appreciated by national and international agencies like the Indian Red Cross Society and UNDP.
The NGO has also been felicitated by State Social Welfare Board, a government of Odisha agency.
However, despite receiving appreciation from the Odisha government, the members of the NGO group said they were not keen to take any kind of financial assistance from any government agency. “There is a lot of procedural delay in government offices. They will simply dampen our spirit. Hence we are not keen to take any help from the government”, said Mohanta.
The NGO struggled for funds initially. But, the situation has now improved considerably, thanks to donations from corporate and business houses based in the state. The NGO also organises fund raising events from time to time.
More importantly, many, who were involved with the NGO during their college days and now working in different companies, contribute regularly to the We 4 You coffer. In fact, the Bhubaneswar based NGO is now planning to expand its activities beyond the boundary of Odisha with the help of these professionals based in metropolis like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad.