Learning to make a difference
Shivam’s commitment to improving the lives of underprivileged children is a matter of great pride for the University. Recently he and his work were featured in International Business Times. He heads the Karnataka branch of Igniting Young Minds. He was inspired by the helpful nature of his father.
After internship with IYM he initiated the social work on a larger scale involving other students. The staff and management supported him actively. Shivam has learnt to balance academics and the demands of social work. He cherishes the love and affection of the kids who he interacted with very briefly long time back and is remembered by them even now. Here is what Shivam Sharma has to say.
I started the Bengaluru chapter of Igniting Young Minds in 2014 and presently lead its operations as the State Head for Karnataka. Igniting Young Minds is the holistic education project of Leaders For Tomorrow, a not-for-profit youth movement. The project aimed at providing life skill training, academic support and creative development to children from less privileged backgrounds trains youth volunteers to act as trainers. These young leaders devote 2 hours every weekend to provide these children with a brighter future.
Since childhood I used to see my father helping the needy but I didn’t understand the importance and necessity of these acts at that time as I was young. Then gradually as time passed by, I realized their situation which motivated me to explore this area and then after my first year of college, I interned with Leaders For Tomorrow and got introduced to this beautiful project Igniting Young Minds. I understood how much of an impact an individual can bring in the lives of those around us through a little time and effort. Inspired by this understanding I took up the initiative that presently reaches out to 450+ less privileged children in 20 centres across 3 locations in Karnataka.
After completing my internship, I volunteered to initiate the project in Bengaluru in the second year of my college. I talked to some of my friends in the college and to my surprise, found that several of the students of our college are socially responsible which created a good base to work with. A couple of juniors I met in one of the fests of our college also showed interest and thus we started off our first phase of IYM in the month of October 2014. Apart from this, we have been very fortunate that the faculty and management in our college have been very supportive even though it is not a part of the university. Support was extended to us to conduct donation drives within the campus to help the needy. They also encouraged me to be a part of social entrepreneurship conferences that I was invited to be a part of through my work.
When you start something on your own, it takes a toll on you physically and mentally. I was apprehensive to start out on this venture on my own, even with the support of the core team from Delhi. But the initial responses gave me a lot of encouragement to take this forward. Once I saw the impact of the work that we have been able to do with these children, I was determined to ensure that I can take this forward. The most challenging phase was as I got into my third year, which is when I learned a very important thing- Time management. That was the need of the hour due to the increasing popularity of the project and the academic pressure. I aligned my focus towards these two things then. Every day I kept some time reserved for both these and stopped wasting time in other activities. We set up a core team of people who were with me from the starting and we discussed how IYM can be improved with each passing phase. We made different teams and they were made the heads of those teams based on their interests and the work was delegated among ourselves. I have met such a wonderful bunch of people and it is because of their hard work too, that we have been able to get results and will reach new heights.
I have so many memories to cherish as part of the project including instances where the children in one of our IYM centres made cards for me even though I had never met them to celebrating birthdays with them. But one moment which is very dear to me was in the month of January 2015 when Rotaract Club of our college called HIV infected or affected children in our college on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. These were the same children with whom we started our first phase of IYM. There were hundreds of students present in the student lounge with these children and out of all those people, those children recognised me saying “Shivam brother” and they all came towards me and hugged me. That was the best moment of my life and it motivated me to do even better and guided me that I’m on the right part.