Enactus SVC – These College Students Are Being The Change They Want To See
What happens when you put a group of enthusiastic college students, and a bunch of social and eco issues together? You get Enactus – a global organization with 72,000 students in 4,700 colleges worldwide, doing their bit and more to make this planet a better place to live in. This is a student-led organization that is committed to “transforming lives and shaping a sustainable world, economically, environmentally and socially”.
Yes, most of us associate college kids with chilling out and partying, and I’m sure these students at Enactus get snippets of time to do so too. But the feisty five and their team of 53 students from Sri Venkateswara College (SVC) in Delhi, spend a huge chunk of their time, working and volunteering for a plethora of projects in the areas of skill-development, women’s empowerment and environment.
“Established in 2015 at Sri Venkateswara College in Delhi, the aim of Enactus is to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship among students and make them sensitive towards society,” explains Abhishek Chopra, a second year student, who is also the ‘Chief Coordinator’ of the team at SVC. The other four core members for this year include Aishwarya Jain (President), Gayatri Aeri (Vice President), Kabir Narula (General Secretary),and Shikha Mohini (Joint Secretary).
A peek into their projects: Over the last three years, Enactus SVC has championed six projects. “Our most successful project, ProjectCiggB is about recycling one of the most toxic solid waste - cigarette butts, and convert them into heartwarming cushions and keychains,” says Aishwarya Jain.
To create awareness about anti-smoking, they created both online and offline campaigns. “Diil Deke Dekho was one such campaign, where we encouraged people to purchase CiggB heart cushions and gift them to others with a promise to quit smoking.” The students also did a flash mob on anti-smoking to hook people’s attention on the topic.
Current projects: Currently, they have two projects in active mode for this session. “Our first endeavor- The Crimson Project- is a fight against the widespread epidemic of lack of menstrual hygiene,” explains Abhishek, adding that they’re doing this by manufacturing reusable sanitary pads and making these available to those who are in dire need of it.
Their second initiative – Project Barqat, is just as powerful, socially and environmentally. The students not only train and teach the skill of putting together solar bulbs to under-privileged people, but also light up their homes with lights that they never had access to.
Project Barqat’s test installation was done in a Banjara community in North Delhi and the reaction they received from the slum dwellers, who had spent their entire lifetimes in the dark, was heartwarming.
Gayatri Aeri explains, “Devoid of any access to electricity, the slum dwellers had to keep doors to their Jhuggis open during the day to let light in, and this meant they had no privacy and a lot of issues with dust and insects.” But after the solar bulbs lit up their dingy huts, this is what the slum dwellers had to say, “Thankfully, now I can just close the door and keep mosquitoes away, and all my children now sleep peacefully” and “I feel more secure now, more comfortable and certainly more happy”.
What is also very interesting about Project Barqat is that the team is now looking for ways to convert plastic bottles into solar bulbs, which will not only prevent disposable plastic bottles from ending up in the ever growing landfills, but will also provide electricity to villages across India.
Initiatives to bring about change: While the team works on a clutch of social and eco projects every year, they also do several other campaigns to spread awareness.
“One of Enactus SVC's most successful and celebrated initiatives The Volunteering Week, conducted during 18-23th January 2018 was a turning point for the team,” quips Kabir Narula. Three successful events were held over a period of six days, namely, Captain Cleanliness, Trash the Ash and Win with Waste.
Captain Cleanliness was held in slum schools for girls in class 7 and 8, educating them about menstrual and overall hygiene, while Trash the Ash was about spreading awareness about health hazards related to smoking. “We conducted an informative session in the form of a skit wherein we explained the harms of smoking, how one can triumphantly drop the habit of smoking and use the money to feed their family better,” chips in Abhishek.
Win with Waste, the third program that was part of the series, was all about teaching children how to turn regular things into useful items instead of throwing it out. “We made newspaper bags and decorations as well as origami utility items,” adds Abhishek.
Challenges: Anyone who wants to bring about change faces his/her own share of challenges and road blocks. The team at Enactus is no different. Since they are college students with a full load of regular studies, they have to be uber smart about managing their time well. “A major step to build the foundation of any project is- funding, and we being students, working for a social cause, find ourselves strapped for cash,” says Aishwarya.
Another challenge that they regularly face is locating the ideal target group for each project and then building that faith among them about the work that they intend to do to benefit their community.
Plans in the pipeline: Even with challenges nipping at their heels, the bunch at Enactus is an enthusiastic one. They inform me that apart from the projects they are currently working on, they have many other ideas simmering in the pipeline. “Next semester, we plan to teach handicrafts and weaving to the women at a vocational centre in South Delhi,” says Gayatri.
Being the change you want to see takes work. A lot of work and a lot less talk. The Enactus team is not only bringing about much-needed change, they are setting a fine example to people double and triple their age.
"Be the change you wish to see." And this feisty bunch is putting into action every word of this quote.
“The reach of all out campaigns has exceeded our expectations,” they say.
And we hope they continue doing what they clearly are good at – making this world a better and cleaner place.
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