Vijay Shree, a teacher at St Xavier’s College of Education, heads to Bal Vikas Kendra every weekend to teach children from economically backward families.
Philosophy teacher Shree, 27, is just one of the many volunteers at Ramakrishna Mission Ashram on Nala Road in Patna. Since June, she has been teaching the children Hindi rhymes at Bal Vikas Kendra on the RKM premises.
“Two years ago, when I was teaching at Mirza Ghalib Teachers’ Training College, one of my students asked me if I implemented the lessons in my life. I had no answer. But two years later, in April this year, I attended a workshop at RKM and learnt how the disciples of Ramakrishna Paramhansa adhere to his philosophy. I also came to know of the school and thought if I started teaching at Bal Vikas Kendra, I would get to know more about philosophy,” said Shree.
When most people would shy away from social work, citing busy schedule, or ask for benefits of rendering services for free, many in the capital have discovered the thrill of giving something back to society.
While some of the volunteers are youths like Shree, some have taken up the voluntary service after retirement.
Among them are 66-year-old Kalyan Chandra Kundu, the principal of Bal Vikas Kendra. The former director of accounts, India Post, Patna, joined the school right after retirement.
“Even though I had a good job, I always felt something was missing in my life. I did not know what that was until I visited RKM in 1971. Soon, I became a regular visitor and a volunteer after retirement. I had enough time to provide my services to RKM.”
Another volunteer at RKM, Shyambihari Prasad, former assistant general manager, BSNL, Bihar circle, said: “I don’t know why people refrain from social work, stating it is time consuming. If people have time for fun, why can’t they take out time for social service? I used to teach children in my locality on alternate days even when I was working with BSNL.”
Prasad retired in May 2010 and four months later joined Bal Vikas Kendra as a teacher.
Some of the volunteers are not just giving back to society but also to RKM. Sintu Kumar, who is pursuing MA in economics from Patna University, is one of them.
“During my schooling, I benefited a lot from the boys’ hostel run by RKM. Being from an economically backward family, I could not afford a tutor but I was given free accommodation at the boys’ hostel and a tutor. I wanted to give something back to RKM and joined Bal Vikas Kendra as a teacher.”
MSc student Prashant Singh has different reasons to volunteer at the school. “I believe by doing social work, people can earn a good fortune.”