Every once in a while an event happens that changes our lives forever and with it, the lives of those around us. One little girl’s birthday celebration was such an occasion. On this particular day in March 2017, in India, when her family went to an orphanage to celebrate her birthday by volunteering, her father Kaushik saw a 6 year old girl serving food to a little 2 year old girl. The image never left his mind.
India is a place of colors, culture, and food. It is also home to the world’s second largest population (1.4 billion*) – approximately twice the US population living in 1/3 the space – and the largest number of orphans in the world (31 million**). Many of these orphanages not only lack the basic necessities such as books and games but also the feeling of being wanted and/or remembered. Kaushik remembered. He also went back to his office and shared the visit and impressions with some coworkers.
That birthday visit and coworker discussion was the catalyst for creating the all-volunteer Keste Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), orphanage-focused Helping Hands team. From the initial three people the team has grown to consist of almost all of the employees at Keste India. Together they participate in monthly CSR activities consisting of whole day weekend events teaching education basics, creativity, and fun while providing the children with school books, uniforms, blankets, jackets, groceries, air coolers in the summer to help improve sleep, and more. Equally important, the children receive care and individual attention that reinforces their sense of value and self-worth.
According to Shalini Kanmantha, Sr. Software Engineer, “Every individual will have a situation one day where they might require some help in the form of wealth or health. Definitely we will get them help if at least we know that person’s needs. However, I personally feel this is not the case with orphanages or old age homes where few will trust and help them out…unless they are a known person to them.” With the Helping Hands team she states that “…our contributions are helping small children who have very little in their life.”
How Does It Work?
A representative from the Helping Hands team conducts surveys to identify in-need institutions such as the SriSatyaSaiSeva Organization, the New Life Foundation, and the Adarsha Foundation. They then visit the selected institutions, meet the critical stakeholders, and document observations to take back and discuss with the other volunteers. Activities are planned and prioritized, costs determined, and a summary shared across the company. Funds are donated and items collected.
The volunteer response is consistently overwhelming and in receiving, the children also give back. According to Srilatha Chinthala, Associate Manager – Operations, “We feel very happy when we see those smiles on the faces of the children when they get something of which they have been dreaming for a long time.”
What Can You Do?
Since March 2017 total monetary contributions of less than $2,000 have supported regular activities in multiple orphanages. All funds go directly towards purchase of items and activities; there are no salaries or overhead.
Opened in 2007 in Hyderabad India, the Keste India Development Center (IDC) provides support for end-to-end projects, 24/7 infrastructure support, and maintenance capability.
“Keste family believes in corporate giveaway for social cause. Helping hands (HH) is Keste CSR group focussed on supporting orphanages. This group has successfully completed 15 months of service! I personally got into the group soon after I found out about what Kaushik and team has been doing and was amazed about it. These guys spend a lot of their personal time in making sure all the services/needs/items that are being donated are utilized effectively to the needy.
I thoroughly enjoyed being part of helping hands. I have met with the group of children Keste is supporting and they truly are just wonderful. I’m really proud of Kaushik, Srikanth and the team for taking up this initiative.” – Madhu Seri, Vice President – IDC
“There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. But if you want happiness for lifetime, help somebody.”
For centuries, the greatest thinkers have suggested the same thing: Happiness is found in helping others. Donating a little bit of money or time may not seem like much. But if donation is joined with others, it becomes something much bigger. Helping Hands – a CSR initiative -has brought all the like-minded people together for a great cause to bring happiness on the faces of the needy. Nevertheless, having the power to improve the lives of others is, a privilege and one that comes with its own sense of obligation. Acting on these powerful feelings of responsibility is a great way to reinforce our own personal values and feel like we’re living in a way that is true to our own ethical beliefs.” – Neetika Sharma