Social work isn’t a closed field today, with students taking up tasks to mould the society and make it a better place to live in, finds Shruti Bhiwandiwala
Original story published in 2012 in Education Times, Times of India
Students today, live in a world that is rampant with social disasters and cries for help; but not many of them are proactive. Zinat Aboli, a BMM professor of Usha Pravin Gandhi College of Management (UPGCM), Mumbai and head of the college’s women’s cell expresses concern, “Students aren’t totally forthcoming about social work. It is only upon insistence and making them do projects that they make an effort to do something.”
On the brighter side though, the numbers seem to be growing – slowly but steadily. This small community filled with zealous, willful students is branching out, extending their support to those in need. Social workers in the form of school and college going students is no longer a myth in the making – they’re taking up the responsibility of cleaning up the society in every aspect, and providing those with poor lifestyles, an opportunity to redeem themselves.
Social work in this case needn’t be restricted to general clean-up sessions or pledges to look after the environment. These youngsters are expanding their bases to animal shelters and NGOs that help out the homeless with suitable food and clothing. College clubs like NSS and the Rotaract Clubs all take an initiative in making a difference in the lives of many such helpless souls.
Pratishtha Gala, a member of Rotaract Club of HR College, Mumbai says, “We’ve organised a number of major and minor projects for the underprivileged. We’ve done everything from a dandiya night for the blind called Utsav, an athletic meet for the mentally challenged called Prerana to teaching at night schools. We even go to numerous special schools during Christmas and help them celebrate the day.”
Colleges like UPGCM have also established women’s cells aimed at the welfare of women. Aboli says, “When drives and seminars are organised, we do have a lot of girls readily involving themselves in the cell activities.”
Students are also popular inhabitants of animal shelters; with the rising cases of street animal accidents and cruelty to animals in general. Siddhi Anekar, a student of Bombay Veterinarian College and a member of 'Animals Matter to Me' says, “We take in accidental and critical cases, and try to nurture the animals back to health as soon as possible. We’ve had a lot of street dog cases, and make sure they get all the care they need.” Taking an initiative, as is obvious, is not a hard task. Colleges and schools together highlight the need to protect nature, what with dedicating a day to specially plant trees, but it is only a few of these students who take an interest and go forth with learning more about the need for social work.
The underlying reason for students taking to social welfare is to create and be responsible for a better society, environment and better world. Anil Bhadavkar, a student of SGM College, Mumbai and a member of Social Footprint and Childline says, “Our organisation helps with student sponsorships. I enrolled myself into Childline because I always had an interest in social work. I wanted to help rescue those living in terrible conditions, or guiding those with terrible backgrounds, and as a member, I was able to do all these things.”
Colleges with social clubs, as mentioned before, are an added impetus to those enrolling themselves for the same. The available option is enough reason for them to go forth and be a part of something that could possibly be a big thing for them. Students don’t necessarily queue up to register for these clubs, but there are a significant few who are willing to juggle the books with the cause.
Time has shown us that one needn’t be an affluent human to support the needs of the less fortunate; the ability lies in the enthusiasm to care.