Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity but for me it started as part of my Job Description and KRA. During my stint as the Human Resource Manager at Taj Vadodara, I could in my little ways contribute towards community and social service through the Corporate Social Responsibility Program. I had the privilege of being a part of the annual birthday celebration of Don Bosco Snehalaya twice.
Don Bosco Snehalya is a non-profit organisation in Vadodara, working with youth and children who need care and protection. The main objective of the Snehalaya is to provide shelter to the young living on the railway platforms and streets. The Snehalaya provides food, clothes, medicines, recreational facilities, counselling, contact with their kith or kin, vocational training and job placements.
Father Steve Rodrigues is the Director of Don Bosco, Vadodara. Over my tenure at the Taj, we have worked together in building livelihoods for quite a few of the boys. I share a special bond with him. Since the children are orphans and do not know their date of births, the Snehalaya holds an annual birthday celebration for the boys on 16th August. The day also happens to be my brother’s birthday, hence a double celebration for me. I never miss the pleasure of spending this special day with the boys.
Don Bosco Snehalaya has a very quaint compound. Every time I have entered their complex the boys have greeted me and welcomed me with so much of warmth and affection. They all are extremely courteous and well mannered.
These boys have a twinkle in their eyes and dreams of a good stable life in their heart. They are grounded and value the life they have, despite the hardships they have faced. Surprisingly these hardships have not hardened these boys or made them cynical but have made them value what is given to them at the Snehalya.
For the celebrations, the Snehalya is beautifully decorated and bedecked with balloons and streamers. The boys dress in their best outfits. They put up various performances like singing, dancing, Group drama, etc. Each performance displays not only the hidden talents these boys have but also their hard work and dedication in making the celebration a success.
Both the years that I was there for the celebration, I took with me little gifts for the boys – Mugs for boys in the age group 8 to 14 and Parker roller ball pens for the boys in the age group from 14 to 18. The children received the gifts with a lot of appreciation and thankfulness. Their smiles and hugs are the best return gifts!
It is heart-warming to see the camaraderie between the boys. They are like one big family celebrating a joyous occasion. I’m eagerly awaiting this year’s celebration! 🙂