Monday, September 5, 2011



“1) A Volunteer requires 700rs for his/her Lodging, Food, Travelling Insurance,etc..You can adopt one or more volunteer and share this expenses. As due to student life, many volunteers find it difficult to arrange this money.” On their blog:

This is what one of the volunteers (from Khaari Base Camp) said to me while chatting on Facebook on 2nd September:

·          really!
·          i do agree
·          rs.700 fr wt?
·          no toilts...

Every volunteer and their parents were surprised to pay Rs. 700/- while working for the Trust as volunteers. This is for the very first time that I have come across such a system. Even when natural calamities like flood or during earthquake, the volunteers’ food, safe drinking water and accommodation, pick up and drop are mandatory duty of the Trust or Organization that requests volunteers to join them to work selflessly for humanity’s sake. So but obvious everyone who paid the amount (mainly students) felt this was not fair. One of the main reasons why they didn’t get enough volunteers to work for them in 11 Base Camps and they had to manage only 9 camps, instead of 11!

Even an individual like me who have been helping was asked by Chandrakant to pay and I refused and he didn’t insist on this aspect. After all medicines, donations and requesting volunteers to join (I travelled to Mumbai on my own money to be with Documentary Filmmaker Ajay Saklani to talk with Medical Students of JJ Govt Medical College to join Dhadak Mohim) and providing my service was on the larger scale.

Each volunteer was charged Rs. 700/- for the ten days’ volunteer work... volunteers travelling from all over India had to spend their own and the Trust which should have provided food, water & accommodation failed to do so. While the Trust will gain everything because of the volunteers, who will remain faceless and nameless, many felt they were taken for a ride by being charged Rs. 700/- since they were giving 10 precious days of theirs to serve on behalf of the Trust so why were they charged?

A deadly huge snake... from Rutuja Shirole's album on Facebook

No safe Drinking Water, No Proper Accommodation, No Toilets for Ladies, No Electricity... yes, we were supposed to live like villagers but then how will we convince the villagers to maintain ‘Health & Hygiene’ if all the volunteers are visiting nature’s call early morning in fields and jungles? What would happen if volunteers were bitten by poisonous snakes? One girl from Satara Gauri Jagtap became so serious that the panel doctors couldn’t even treat her and she had to be taken to a Private Nursing Home to administer two bottles of saline... the girl was so weak when she came to our Base Camp at Paankhalaya. Ms. Anil from Agra developed rashes on her arms because of unsafe polluted water... fortunately, not many of the volunteers got sick... but wasn’t it the duty of the Organization to provide everyone safe drinking water at least when they have charged everyone Rs. 700/-? We were drinking water from a well, which had huge frogs and what not... and everyone’s dirty buckets were in and out... I wonder why they never took any precaution regarding all these aspects!

Bright Shining Eyes of a Huge Frog in the well, we were drinking water...

Once the 10 days get over, the individual were left on their own to reach the Main Base Camp (MBC) at Dharni... the management didn’t bother to pick up girls and boys... those who were lucky, got the bus but those who didn’t, had to lift their heavy luggage and walk for 3 to 4 kms before getting any mode of transport. Wasn’t it the duty of the management to help the volunteers to reach the bus station and Main Base Camp after the 10 days get over? 7 (4 girls) volunteers from our base camp had to walk for 3 kms with their heavy luggage to reach the MBC... even Rutuja had to walk for 3 kms with her heavy bags before getting an auto...

The management mentions that Rs. 700/- is charged for Food, Lodging, Travelling & Insurance... Yes, Food was provided but the regular and that too the volunteers had to prepare... No special breakfast or fruits... as mentioned earlier no safe drinking water... Lodging was at the mercy of the village aanganwadis or school buildings... Travelling as mentioned above they did not bothered to pick up when the camp ended for a batch of volunteers... as for Insurance... this is surely misleading because they never told any of us and never gave any Insurance form to fill in our full details...

Above all, the Clause No: 11 state that ‘during the stay at the camp in case of any untoward unpleasant incident / accident, the individual is responsible.’ Most of the volunteers didn’t even know about it because everyone including me signed the form (in Marathi) at arrival in good faith. It was Dr. Priyadarsh Ture, who told me about such a clause when I projected the problems of shortage of medicines to him and he even insisted that I should write everything in my REPORT when I leave the camp. I am indeed grateful to Dr. Ture for telling me about the dangerous clause that we all had signed in good faith. I was shocked to know about such a clause... How can the management be so callous and unprofessional in their approach? So if some volunteer had died during the 10 days camp, s/he would have been responsible for her / his death... and not the management!

I am really very-very sad about the whole experience! I wish to thank Sai Baba that nothing untoward happened to any volunteer and HE protected all of us while the management had made sure to blame the individual if something had happened!

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