Palak Malhotra, Dhananjay Mumick, Begul Sonker, Sushant Chawla, Sakshi Sood and Riddhi Sharma — talk to Hina Rohtaki about their work and future plans.
From where did you get the idea of forming NGO Navsankalp? Who conceptualised it?
Palak: It was the brainchild of a BSc student of DAV College, Harpriya Kaur, in 2006. She went to PGI once and was moved by seeing children lying there and in need of financial help. She then approached one of the teachers and from there the entire concept of Navsankalp started. It began in 2006 with a group of six students and now we are a family of more than 2,000 people.
How does your NGO function?
Begul: We provide financial help to children under the age of 17 years whose parents cannot afford medical treatment. We raise funds from public to pay the medical bills.
Dhananjay: Navsankalp has given each one us a platform to save lives and be the part of a cause. It is not about the amount of money one donates, but the will with which you want to help.
Palak: We also have a sister unit of Navsankalp, Rakt Sanchar. We have a helpline number. If any patient needs blood of a particular group, platelets, his family can call us on the helpline number and we arrange a donor. When we approach the public for donations, we collect data of thousands of people who are willing to donate. Thereafter, we circulate the requirement among the people and arrange a donor.
How many patients from poor families you have helped ever since the organisation was formed?
Palak: We have saved 86 lives ever since the organisation was formed.
How do you raise funds?
Sushant: We raise funds by two means — market collection and sparkles. Sparkles is a mega charity event of the Tricity where we invite dignitaries. In market collection, we approach public, explain them about our NGO and the need why we are seeking donations. Once a child required immediate medical help and we collected Rs 12 lakh in three days. It all happened because of public support.
What kind of response do you get from the public?
Begul: Three to four years ago, the response was not that positive. But these days we are recognised. People recognise our organisation by the t-shirts we wear. We also hold flash mobs so that people get to know that we are volunteers of Navsankalp.
What kinds of difficulties you face while asking for donations?
Palak: I think more than challenges, we gain experience. When we are in the field, we meet various people who ask several questions about our NGO. If somebody approaches us, we would also doubt whether to give him donation or not. But it’s a special experience when you manage to get even one rupee from a donor.
What is the process of selecting patients who need help?
Sakshi: Our criteria is to provide financial aid to children under the age of 17 years. Firstly, we check the documents of the particular child – the below poverty line (BPL) card, ration card. Secondly, we check the scenario and approach the doctor treating the child. After authenticating everything, we take the decision. And we do not donate cash. We pay the medical bills of the patient to maintain transparency.
Riddhi: Our main function is that we do not hand over cash to the doctor or the family member, but personally go and pay the medical bills. We keep in touch with the doctors at PGI and sometimes they even contact us if a child needs financial help.
How do you juggle between studies and NGO work?
Palak: I feel when you have the will, you can easily get the time to do anything. Working for a social cause gives you more satisfaction. It’s all about priorities in life. Also the satisfaction you derive from saving lives of small children is sufficient. When you are satisfied within, you are in peace mentally, you can devote quality time to your studies.
Sushant: Navsankalp itself is a kind of education. It is all about time management. We can manage academics and NGO both. Especially when you get the support from your parents, you are pushed to work harder.
What all necessary qualities one requires to be actively engaged in NGO work as a student?
Palak: Sincerity, hardwork, transparency and dedication are four qualities one requires. For Navsankalp, we don’t take every other child. We have a particular selection process. For all those who wish to be part of Navsankalp, we provide them a questionnaire, which has questions related to interest in social qualities or how much time a student can devote. Then we have an interview done by a panel consisting of students and passouts.
Any special stories of helping patients you can recall or share.
Sushant: Every story of a child whom we have helped is special for us. However, one instance of a donor was very touching. In Sector 17, one of our volunteers was telling somebody about Navsankalp. A small boy selling balloons came forward and gave Rs 10 saying that it was his contribution. We were so touched when he said that he made the donation because we were helping children like him. Another child selling lemonade with his father collected Re 1 from each glass of lemonade he sold and donated us Rs 2,100 later. At one of our events, we asked him to make the formal donation to a needy family.