Volunteer Feedback

  Name: Nayantarara Kothari
  Occupation: Student
  University: Stanford
  • How did you get in contact with The Banyan?

    As a resident of Madras, I have always been in contact with The Banyan-through Basant Utsav or other fundraisers. I am also privileged to know Mr. Balraj who is on the board of The Banyan, who encouraged me to get involved.

  • Were you satisfied with the support from The Banyan's side in from phase one when you arrived in Chennai? Was anything missing?

    The Banyan and its staff were greatly supportive during the short time that I was able to intern. I greatly enjoyed the freedom and encouragement they gave me to help and be part of the organization in any way I felt I could contribute. It was because of this flexibility that I was able to experience being part of your Kovalam initiative as well as do my best to help with administrative duties such as fundraising.

  • Did the pick-up at the airport work (if provided by The Banyan)?

    N/A

  • How did you like your accomodation (if provided by The Banyan)?

    N/A

  • How did you experience the orientation to The Banyan? What more information do you think should be provided?

    I feel my orientation to the organization could not have been more rounded, as I got a chance to see all the different aspects that go in to making The Banyan the organization that it is. I first got the chance to visit Adaikalam-the heart of The Banyan. Then I moved on to Kovalam, where I got to see the BALM institute as well as the home. And finally, I was able to help administratively in Kilpauk. I don't know if this is standard procedure with all your interns, but I would greatly recommend it as it really gave me a good snapshot of all the different aspects that go towards making an NGO.

  • Were you assigned duties that matched your skills and expectations? How can this process be improved?

    As I stated earlier, I greatly appreciated the freedom The Banyan gave me to chose where I fit in best. This is invaluable, because even though I was there for just 2 weeks, it allowed me to get a concrete picture of the organization. I would have been very interested to carry on further research at the Darga in Kovalam, and I think it would be great if such research projects could be encouraged as there is so much data within the organization.

  • What are the problems/difficulties you faced as a volunteer in everyday work?

    Initially, it was just a matter of getting used to the women and their situations. However, as time passed, I grew more comfortable with them. The only problem would be that I did not know whether there was a standard way to conduct myself-especially at Kovalam. For example, simple things like whether I was allowed/encouraged to bring the women small gifts (many kept asking for nail polish, etc). I was informed later that this was not encouraged-but it would have helped if someone had briefed me earlier regarding similar situations.

  • Did you get adequate help in case of questions or problems? What do you feel would ensure that a volunteer doesn't get "lost" while working at The Banyan?

    Yes, all the employees of The Banyan were more than willing to help out or suggest where I could be of help.

  • What are your 3 key learnings from your volunteering experience at The Banyan?

    (1)   Management of time and resources in an NGO-and how certain compromises have to be made
    (2)   Pushing personal comfort zones, and learning to adapt
    (3)   Public-private partnership is essential for an NGO to survive (for example, DAIL-100 program instituted by Banyan at IMH)

  • What do you think are the three biggest challenges for The Banyan as an organization? Do you have ideas on how we could face them?

    Speaking from my fundraising experience at [The Banyan Centre] Kilpauk, I have realized that any improvement/progress is just a matter of juggling time with resources. There were so many ideas that could be beneficial-but very little time, and very few resources to dedicate to doing it. Also, as I spoke to Tania and Appu, we all agreed that there was a need for accumulating a database of past fundraisers to guide any future efforts.

  • Are you considering volunteering again at The Banyan sometime in the future? Why / why not?

    Yes, I definitely hope to be able to spend some more time during a longer visit to Chennai.

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