When life throws different stones at you, don’t pick the one which is brightest but pick the one for which your heart has longed. During her internship in an NGO, Mahima had a chance to meet herself and finds happiness by serving others. Not only was she involved in the social work, she had an interaction with Australian students and an insight about their culture.
I have always been passionate about contributing ‘my part’ to the society, which I thought would be an easy thing to do, something that comes naturally to anyone. It started with a few feeble attempts at volunteering at NGOs like Toy bank, Make-a-wish foundation. With the intention still alive, the flame of motivation did not burn like I thought it would. I felt I was not able to put my efforts on the line in the most satisfactory manner.
It was during my gap year, the year after I completed my B.E in Biomedical engineering, a course which proved to be a challenge for me. The challenges I had to face during my college days, to fight my fear of people and of the stage, helped me improve myself to further instigate and contribute my part to the Biomedical department of my college, which was under-rated for being a non-popular course. With a blurry and uncertain vision of my future, and not very successful attempts at jobs and with an impounding ‘GATE’ exam to crash (unfortunately, this one wasn’t for me), I thought working in the social sector would complete me, something that I was always keen to do. It had its share of questions too. The most important being, ‘How can a not-so-social person work in the social sector’. Putting all that behind, I began looking for internships. I almost could not believe my eyes when I was shortlisted for ‘Pollinate Energy’. This happened in April 2014, about 8 months after my graduation. I finally was doing something useful, after all these months of self-pity and wasting away.
Based in Bangalore, where I live, it was for a Young Indian professional position. I was told that I would be associated with a project which focuses on social enterprise development, monitoring and evaluating their business model and operations and going out to communities to do survey and case studies on their end customers. I wasn’t so sure what all these meant, but I couldn’t wait for it to start. The day finally came. I saw what Pollinate Energy was all about. A ‘social business’, started on the outskirts of Bangalore in 2012 by some fun-loving yet serious Australians and Indian co-founders, Pollinate Energy concentrates on providing sustainable solutions to the urban slum communities. They reach out to the people living in these urban slum communities, encourage them to use solar lanterns, and provide them with the same at affordable prices, thereby reducing the use of kerosene to light their dimly light tents. All this for an improved quality of life, as a family and for the community as a whole; For better health and safety, to fight the ill-effects of smoke from kerosene, fewer accidents and thefts and also reducing the burden on the environment. They also improve the lives of Indian entrepreneurs, also called ‘Pollinators’ who act as the link between Pollinate Energy and the communities.
This 2-week internship at Pollinate energy was to do an Impact assessment as a Young professional Intern-led me to meet people living in the urban slum communities of Bangalore where I got to interact with them. Also called the invisible life-makers, I never really was aware of the lives they live and the problems they face. This internship made me believe in goodness, in humanity and in some ways, it got me believing in myself and that I wanted to do something meaningful in my life. Ours was a team of 21 Australian and Indians professionals, all from diverse professional and personal backgrounds. It was one of the best examples of ‘Unity in diversity’ that I have ever seen. We had two sessions per day, the morning devoted to ‘Bee projects’ where we were all divided into teams and had to work on different projects. I was in the Video making team. It was a great combination of fun and work. Our team developed videos for advertising solar lamps in the Indian market and improve awareness of them in the Australian market. The people were fun, and we had a really nice time- with toy snakes, funny retakes, working out the scripts, translating them and what not!
The afternoon session was devoted to visiting the different slum communities in Bangalore, which were divided into different regions, based on their geography. We were divided accordingly into groups. All geared up with tablets, papers, goodies for the people participating in the activities, books and all required things, we set out every day. This gave me the chance to interact with the Australians. It was nice getting to know them, learning about their country and their lives. The aim was ‘Impact assessment’, i.e., to see how Pollinate energy products have impacted their lives, the positive and negative sides of it. Data collection was through surveys, case stories, and activities. People participated in them eagerly, although some had inhibitions. The people in these communities were hospitable and were sweet to us. They offered us food even though their supplies were limited. I got a chance to speak to the people directly, as the medium of conversation was regional languages. Learning about their everyday lives, of their struggles, their dreams and aspirations for their children, I learned that we are all the same, and yet we treat each other differently. The last day of the internship was fun – we had activities to discover ourselves and to unleash our dreams and ambitions and to learn about other interns.
Life changed, got me into my post-graduate studies, but the experience was God-sent and will always be something I will always cherish. I finally felt the satisfaction of doing something useful in life.
Editor’s note- Have you got an internship story to share? A chance to win cool Internshala T and other cash prizes by sharing your internship story here.