Jazbaa – Saluting the never-dying spirit of Human Passion, is a voluntary service for defense forces and their families, initiated by a group of four young professionals. We bring here excerpts from an interview with one of the founding members, Priyank Patel.
Tell us a little about Jazbaa?
Jazbaa is an initiative to revive patriotism in the younger generation. It is a purely volunteer driven initiative. Myself, Ankur Yadav, Awdhesh Soni and Gautam Gupta all share a deep respect and attachment with the Indian Armed Forces and Jazbaa is an initiative to share our love and gratitude for the forces and make everyone aware of the sacrifices made by them.
What inspired you to start it?
For almost two years, we had traveled India, working with NGOs on different development issues such as health, education, child & youth welfare etc. During these travels we realized that the awareness among the general population about our armed forces was very limited. We also identified a disconnect between the general population and the defense forces. As a civilian we take pride in our army on 15th August and 26th January, but we really do not understand the conditions in which our soldiers work or the pain and pressure a soldiers and his family go through to keep us safe. The idea was to create a two-way connect. We also want our soldiers to feel that their countrymen stand strong with them and their families when they are on the border.
Before we started Jazbaa, I had asked my friends to write THANK YOU letters to the soldiers. The response was heart-warming. We hand distributed many to the soldiers of BSF at Bamiyal border of India and Pakistan, close to Pathankot. We have also posted more than 400 handwritten letters to command units of 18 Grenediers; Maratha Light Infantry; 55 Rashtriya Rifles at 56 Army post-offices.
That is when Jazbaa was born. Jazbaa today works to “Salute the never-dying spirit of Human passion”. It’s an effort to inspire youngsters like us about the armed forces and their sacrifices. It also aims to look after the families of martyrs and retired army officers. While we started with creating awareness about the armed forces, we have now expanded our vision to tell the stories of people who have followed their passion irrespective of the challenges life has thrown at them.
It’s been around 6 months since you started, what has been the response?
The response has been heart-warming! The smile we see on a father’s face when they know that we came to know about their son’s story, the pride we see in a mother’s eyes and the glowing feel of patriotism we see when we share the stories with school and college youth makes our efforts worthy.
I think the message from Captain Krish of 55 Rastriya Rifle, Shrinagar speaks a lot about Jazbaa.
I am personally calling to say thanks for your beautiful letters that we received today. Each of the letters has a soul touching message written on it. Receive our sincere thanks for the efforts you and your team has put in. We wish to see you get all the success.
How do you engage volunteers?
Initially it was just the four of us. We traveled across Punjab, Jammu and Himachal Pradesh, met with Army commandants and Border Security Officers. We interviewed the families of Martyrs and soldiers. We were also urging people to write letters and collecting them ourselves for posting to the regiments.
Now that Jazbaa has significant reach among youth, we have initiated other activities like Signature Campaigns and awareness drives. Our volunteers support us in organizing and managing these events. We urge our supporters to bring forward the stories of soldiers and other heroes whom they have come across or know of. Volunteers also take interviews of senior army officers and share pictures with us.
We also support volunteers to conduct candle march, petitioning and engaging people in awareness building activities.
How do you get new volunteers?
Currently Jazbaa has a volunteer base in Delhi, Pune and Chattisgarh. We use Social media, personal contacts, presentation in colleges and schools to create awareness about our mission and activities. More often than not, new volunteers come through word of mouth.
Our current volunteers share their experience of working with Jazbaa with their friends and that’s how we get most of our new volunteers.
What are the challenges in running a completely volunteer driven organisation?
Being completely dependent on volunteers is challenging at times, as one cannot really force anyone to carry out a task or keep up a deadline. One has to ask and not just delegate. There needs to be some form of reward for the volunteers, because while their work is creating value, they might also want some tangible output. We recognize our volunteers through Thank you notes, appreciation articles and merchandise like T-shirts etc.
However, the best thing about a volunteer driven organisation is that everyone working in it has faith in the organisation and its vision. Volunteers work with us because they believe in the Indian Armed Forces; they want to know about them and they want to know them. We welcome all in this journey of knowing and celebrating our Armed Forces and extra-ordinary heroes!
All pics courtesy Jazbaa;
Poem ‘We the Patriots’ by Tajaswee Rao at her blog: http://blabberblah.wordpress.com/2006/01/26/we-the-patriots/