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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stand Up and Be Counted

Help the less fortunate simply by practising your favourite hobby

 Never believe that a small group of people can't change the world," said American writer Margaret Mead. "Indeed, they are the only ones who do.'' For every Gandhi, there are a million followers who join the movement. For every Mother Teresa, there are a thousand missionaries of charity who demonstrate compassion in their daily life and work.
    As India prepares to celebrate the Joy of Giving Week (JGW) from Sept 26 to Oct 2, here is a chance for you to stand up and be counted. If autorickshaw drivers can donate Rs 1,000 to feed the poor, and 8,000 women in lower income self-help groups can donate 15,000 kg of food
grains to the less fortunate, then surely we all can do our bit.
    With over 150 events registered across India, there's a lot for you to choose from and participate in. The Dreamathon is a simple initiative that you can undertake all by yourself. Simply pick your favourite hobby or passion and use it to either raise money for a cause, or promote awareness of an important social issue, or simply to provide direct help.
    Rahul Nainwal, the CEO of a Delhi-based enterprise, loves to cook. He has already planned ten meals—lunch and dinner—that he will personally cook during the Joy of Giving week. "Cuisine will range from Thai, Continental, Indian to Italian and I have already invited friends over for all meals, for a fee. Some of my friends are vegetarian, so I'm also doing a special 'vegetarians only' meal for them," says Nainwal, who is yet to decide where he will donate the proceeds. "I have a few charities in mind
but haven't zeroed in on one yet."
Sandeep Gurung is a fashion designer in Bangalore. In the JGW, he will organize Go Green, an awareness exhibitioncum-sale. "My team and I will tell people how they can use d o m e s t i c waste to create s o m e t h i n g fashionable and how a small lifestyle change can make a big difference to our environment," says Gurung, who is also inviting unemployed youth and NGOs to attend the workshop free of cost.

Why a Dreamathon?
Because it is a simple idea that every individual can implement. Everyone has some hobby or the other, and every hobby can be used to help a cause.
    Even if your dreamathon raises "just" Rs 1,000, or helps "only" 25 people, it will all add up. JGW is not about large corporates, celebrities or wealthy people — it's about regular people doing their bit.
    It is a great chance to do what you enjoy for a cause that you care about.
    Rahul Nainwal, Sandeep Gurung and many others like them have already started. What are you waiting for?

How to set up your Dreamathon in seven easy steps
1 Shilpa Kamath, a branch manager at a public sector bank, loves doing mehendi art so she picks this as her hobby.
2 She decides to train underprivileged girls in this art so that they can earn money out of it.
3 Shilpa knows teaching this art will need at least 12 hours of training. Her work day ends at 4 pm, so she decides to do the training from 6 pm to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday.
4 She surfs the Internet for NGOs working with underprivileged young girls and finds one near her home.
5 The NGO agrees to host her "mehendi-training workshop" and identifies about 40 potential participants in the 16-20 age group who can learn. Shilpa will do a "test" on Sunday (Sept 26) to identify 10 talented girls who have a flair for art, and then work with them for the rest of the week. She decides to "charge" each participant Rs 200 which will be paid to the NGO and used to buy all the materials they will need — less for the money and more because she wants the girls to take the course seriously.
6 Shilpa registers the event on the JGW website, starts practising how she will teach the finer techniques, how to mix the mehndi, and also gets copies made of a "design booklet" she uses that has 100 patterns. She keeps checking on the progress with the NGO every day to make sure there are at least 40 people lined up for her "big day".
7 Shilpa organises the event.


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