‘From life at the shelter home to my first place of work — I’ve take a big step forward!’ — Vidya
‘After working at YUVA, I feel like an adult, more professional, mature and responsible.’ — Ankita
That is how Vidya and Ankita (names changed to protect identities) feel after contributing to the work of Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) for more than a month. They feel that coming to YUVA was a first major step in the outside world and the learnings and experiences gained have been useful and significant. We caught up with them recently to know more about the internship. Excerpts from the conversation are presented with permission below.
Can you start by explaining the kind of work you are engaged in at YUVA?
V: We are helping record the data of books needed in YUVA’s Urban Resource Centre here at YUVA Centre, Kharghar.
A: We use Excel to enter the data, which is an interesting software.
How has the work at YUVA helped change your perception about things?
A: We knew how to use Excel before we came here. But now, after working with it daily, we have become more efficient. Also, I aspire to become a librarian someday. I always thought that books with names of authors and publishers is all there is to it. But through the work I did, I learnt so much more! There are categories and codes, on the basis of which the books are arranged. The categorisation of books is a different system altogether.
The intricacies of the workings of a library have encouraged me to work harder towards achieving my aspirations.
V: I feel my perception of doing a job has changed completely. I always used to look at corporate professionals in movies and television and think to myself that the work seems so easy, just sit in a chair and work comfortably all day. Now I understand the amount of dedication required to focus on completing tasks.
A: I have another point to add! My work here has taught me to be patient, definitely! That’s because when you enter the data wrong in Excel by mistake, and realise that all the following rows contain incorrect data, the patience you are expected to have is immense to sort things out.
What motivates you to show up for work every day?
V: I love the work I do here. Frankly, I wait every morning to get back here and start with my work.
A: I had heard about YUVA previously, but now I feel I know a little more about what it does. It’s interesting to see how unlike other non-governmental organisations that work and specialise in one or two sectors, YUVA works in multiple and diverse fields. So to be able to contribute something to the organisation’s work is definitely a reason to keep going.
What, apart from the work, do you think you have gained from your experience here at YUVA?
A: I think my bond with Vidya has strengthened because we look out for each other and help each other out. Like, for instance, Vidya has dust allergy so I help her out by dusting out piles of books before we start working with them.
V: Yes, I agree. Also, we regularly interact with staff and other volunteers here at the centre. Given that they belong to different age groups, I have learnt how to communicate with people who are not my age and are elder to me. I am glad I had this opportunity to step out and experience something new. What I am getting at is that, the exposure we have received is immense and would be useful in future for sure.
Tell us a little bit about the social issues you feel strongly about.
V: I think we are both big environment and nature lovers. Looking at everyday happenings, I personally feel that we are the first generation to feel the effects of global warming and also the last one who can do something about it.
A: Exactly! We don’t respect the environment enough, is what I feel. We are so dependent on trees for oxygen and basic necessities, but we don’t do enough from our end to protect and conserve trees. Now is really the time to act.
So how do you think we can do our bit for the environment?
A: We have both stopped consuming non-vegetarian food. That is our way of showing support to animal welfare. Looking at the world around us, I feel the day is not too far when countries would fight over natural resources, mainly water.
V: Even in our shelter home, we have been taught to be sensitive towards animals, trees, birds and so on. We also participate in plantation drives that are organised by our shelter home. This has helped us gain perspectives about environmental challenges and issues.
What has been your biggest takeaway from your work at YUVA?
V: I believe that I have become more confident of conducting myself. That is, I was unsure if I would be able to finish tasks given to me with ease and on time. Also, the staff at YUVA has been instrumental in guiding and encouraging us to come here every day and feel comfortable and worthy.
A: I already mentioned that I am in awe of YUVA’s work and that gives me enough reason and motivation to come here and contribute to their work. As Vidya said, it makes you feel responsible and accountable which pushes you to do even better.
We look forward to partner with Prerana Shelter Home on more such initiatives in the future, towards people’s empowerment.