June 28, 2011
School of Business, Amritapuri
Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something …
For Amrita School of Business visiting faculty at Amritapuri, Sandeep Rambhatla and Lakshminarayan, that something took the form of volunteering at Veeranakkunnam village, not far from Chennai.
The duo, together with others interested in serving like them, adopted 45 families living in the village, helping them with matters of health, hygiene, education and nutrition.
“When we first visited the village, the villagers had extremely poor living conditions,” shared Sandeep, who also studied at the Amrita School of Business, graduating in 2005 with an MBA.
After graduating, Sandeep was not content to work only in the corporate world. He continued volunteering at the NGO Sathva he founded in 2001, with his engineering classmates.
Sandeep shared what got him started.
“One day a girl we knew met with an accident. She was from a middle class family but the family couldn’t afford the hospital expenses. Being moved by her plight, we decided to help and collectively raised around Rs. 1.88 lakh.”
One thing led to another in the quest to serve and finally development activities began in the Veeranakkunnam village.
Currently Assistant General Manager at a private insurance company, Sandeep does not let his busy schedule come in the way of his volunteering with the villagers. Lakshminarayan, who is the CEO of a financial services firm, and similarly busy, also carves time out in order to help.
Sathva has already provided water facilities for families living in the village. It has conducted comprehensive medical camps wherein the services of a general physician, gynecologist, dermatologist, ophthalmologist and psychiatrist were made available.
“From that camp, we realized that these people labor hard in the fields; hence they need proper nutrition.”
“With inflation in food prices, buying vegetables was not possible for them. They each have 3 cents of land given by the government, wherein they have constructed small huts. In a vacant plot, we started helping them grow vegetables.”
Sathva is also planning to construct a study centre and eco friendly toilets for the villagers in the near future.
Finding sufficient resources and good volunteers remains a challenge. The NGO has electronic clearance facility (ECF) for people who want to donate money. “We raise funds from our friends and well-wishers, telling them to send a minimum of Rs. 100 a month.”
As the team celebrated ten years of service, their inspiring work was profiled in the June 15, 2011 issue of Outlook Money.
What lies ahead?
“We are extremely happy to be making a difference. But we have not yet reached the full potential. It is like having a Mercedes-Benz but driving in first gear at only 10 km/hr, even thought the road is clear. We want to do a lot more.”