• Who is a Volunteer?

  • A volunteer for us is one, who works for social and environmental development without any material benefits or salary.

  • Why Bakul or why a movement for volunteerism?

  • The founding of Bakul in Orissa had 3 main provocations Individuals wanted change but were cynical about it and about their capability to bring about that change because they could only make small contributions. They, therefore, did little to bring about that change as well. The mistaken notion that change could happen only through big funding as if public participation was not needed. The public that wanted to participate, on the other hand, did not have a credible platform that generated trust for people to contribute. Our perception was that a major chunk of people from India and Orissa in particular wanted to give back to society. Most people did not trust NGOs and believed NGOs existed to make money. NGOs made little effort to engage volunteers as well. For instance, after the Volunteer Fair 2008 in Bhubaneswar jointly organized by VSO and Bakul, most of the NGOs apart from Bakul did not really engage the young people interested in volunteering. With Bakul, however, though more than 200 had signed up, atleast 30 actively volunteered in the last few months and have brought in more of their friends. Therefore, the mission of Bakul is bring about an attitudinal change in individuals that makes them active citizens and this can only happen through a movement.

  • What is the Bakul Model of Intervention?

  • Bakul works on a model of what we call “Volunteer Capitalism”. The Volunteers at Bakul and the spirit of volunteerism in the work of Bakul inspires and brings more people to volunteer. Like capital attracts more capital, the volunteers of Bakul attract more volunteers. In its two and a half years of existence, more than 2000 individuals have been actively involved. It started with the pledge campaign itself. The benefit of an online campaign was, as people saw that many more people like them had pledged, they felt motivated to get involved and made them also believe in the possibility of its success. We call a volunteer Bakulized not when she is extremely enthusiastic about Bakul. For us, a volunteer cannot be Bakulized unless she Bakulizes others.

  • Our Limitations and Challenges Like all romantic things, volunteerism has its own challenges.

  • The biggest challenge is the high volunteer turnover. Many volunteers join Bakul, work passionately and do great work, but then soon enough, they leave.

    That is why, there is often a challenge of consistency.

    Often the learning and expertise the volunteers acquire in the course of their volunteering does not stay with Bakul in the absence of many permanent volunteers.

    The success of volunteerism is its greatest challenge also. Seeing the work of Bakul, many people have very high expectations but Bakul may not have the human resources to fulfill those expectations since the volunteers keep moving.

    The platform that Bakul provides for people to come together to translate their ideas into reality is romantic. But for every idea that is taken up, many other ideas cannot be taken up because there are not enough people.

    Sometimes there are people ready to volunteer, but we may not have mentors to guide them.

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