Sunday, June 03, 2012

What 2 Volunteers from HelpAge India Taught Me

I was relaxing at home yesterday morning, watching some episodes of The Big Bang Theory. It was about 11am or so when the door bell rang. Two youngsters of about 25 years age were standing there with a broad grin on their faces.

It wasn't a typical grin you expect from a door-to-door Salesman. It was something more pleasant, more serene, more genuine. I was curious. I welcomed them in anyway.

HelpAge India
Image credit:
They told me that they were from Help Age India, and if I had heard of it. I told them, “Of course, it is a popular NGO.” They were pleased.

They began explaining how they too were working professionals during the weekdays and transformed into HelpAge volunteers full-time on weekends. It was something they wanted to do to contribute to our society. They explained the plight of so many old people who are left on the streets unattended and were in poor health. They explained how we offer fresh food to even our pets at home, but how these grannies and grandpas are unable to even feed themselves and have to eat left-over and unhygienic food on the street.

They went on to explain how these grannies and grandpas, turn blind due to their inability to get timely cataract treatment. They said, the word was “Timely”. If such needy people can get timely help, they can maintain descent health.

This is where HelpAge India comes into the picture. They had schemes for providing free and timely treatment. Not only this, they also gave them employments subsequently so their self-esteem grows and they don't have to resort to the streets again. HelpAge was interested in solving their problems once and for all. They were collecting funds for full the treatment of these old people.

While sharing their experiences about such fund-collection drives, they shared some very heartless responses  of people. I can’t even imagine people responding, “How many more days do they have to live? Why to invest money there” How outright unemotional and inhuman. I felt anger surge within me against those who were so cruel.

Like many others, I too happily handed over a cheque they could encash later. It was the least I could do. They studied a list of more people they had to visit for HelpAge India and bid me adieu.

I was convinced about the noble cause these two youngsters were contributing to. 2-3 things stood out for me:
  1.  There is no dearth of people who question, discuss, argue at great length about how much they want to help, but when the time comes, they simply turn away from an opportunity.
  2. It was the first time I met Help Age India volunteers. Although I had read quite a bit about how HelpAge India functioned, it was my first time that someone personally explained me its impact so comprehensively. I was happy that such volunteers were actually doing their bit. That was what stood out. They were doing it, not just speaking about it.
  3.  They taught me that you don’t need to be a Bill Gates or Narayana Murthy or Anna Hazare to bring about a change. You can contribute to change yourself, in your own capacity, in your own way.
It struck me later that what really distinguishes a leader from the rest is that they actually do it. They don’t just preach. They do it. That is why people look upto them. They have the experience of actually implementing something they believe in. Laggards are only concerned, they don’t influence. They stay within their circle of concern without ever growing their circle of influence.

Let me explain this in a little greater detail. These are 2 very important concepts explained in the best seller ‘The 7Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Steven Covey. Simply stating, a Circle of Concern is something that you’re only concerned about, you're worried about. A Circle of Influence is about things you can influence, you can act on. This is one of most profound concepts I've learnt.

Let’s take a closer look. We come across many people who crib, complain and whine about the state of society (or India or business) is and how it is going from bad to worse. They are really ‘concerned’ about the state of affairs. They scream from their guts about how bad the roads are, how corrupt the politicians are, how bad administration is, how bad their bosses are, how flawed the HR policy is, etc. The list can be endless. And by now, you must have also guessed the names of people in your acquaintance who do this. These are the people who stay in their Circle of Concern and don’t do anything to influence it/ change it.

There is the other breed of people who probably don’t say much, but just get things done. These also exist in your work place, in your locality, in your institution, in your group. These are the people others go to for a solution, or when they have to get things done. They believe in doing things, rather than just sitting on it and endlessly arguing. They like to act on it. Period. These are the people who expand their Circle of Influence and shorten their Circle of Concern.

Whenever they see a problem, they ask “How can I change this myself?” “What role can I play, however tiny, that will change things for the better?” Then they go ahead and just do it.

A person always has a choice between these two. He can either sit on it, or act on it. He can either choose to grow his circle of influence and in effect, reduce the circle of concern. This choice defines a person in his social, personal and professional sphere of life. These are the choices that even make or break a person.

Become a better person. Make the right choice. Don't sit on it. Act Now.

What steps are you taking today to expand your circle of influence? How can you reduce the circle of concern? What is that one thing you always wanted to do, but did not do it yet? Well, go ahead and do it now. Do share your experiences below. Thanks.


  1. thank you so much for this motivation, exactly what i needed!

  2. Very inspiring Sir, I too had experiences in my past about helpage India volunteers. They are really doing a good job by making themselves available for such a noble cause.

    Also you said it correctly that sitting at once place and complaining about how bad things are happening around you will not bring any change. To act upon it in a timely manner is the need of the hour.

    P.S: I always make it a point to encourage and thank them for doing such a good work. "aap log bohot aacha kaam kar rahe hai, ye karte rahiyega" are some simple words that surely brings smile on their faces. I am doing my bit.

  3. i had somewhat different experience, one such volunteer contacted me in office and explained good work done by Helpage India. i was impressed and offered donations. Since i did not have cheque book available with me Young man suggested me to donate it online. He told me to type and donate. This page has exactly similar appearence as of official web page of Helpage India. Only difference was it did not have secured features of web site. Sensing the difference i opted to donate it through official website page instead of direct page. I request donors to be cautious of such attempts as it might risk your credentials.

    1. Hi,I experienced the same thing so I contacted helpage india network. They verified the above link as authentic.The only difference would be,instead of 100%,you'll be getting 50% exemption from 80G income tax

    2. Who are you to authenticate this. How do I know that you are not one of them.
      You should have links to other donation sites so that no 3rd person could scam people through this.

    3. It is a legitimate site from help age india.

  4. I too had a similar experience. Two people turned up at our doorstep claiming to be collecting funds for Helpage India. They initially asked for a cheque and then later said that we could pay online at the to do that payment on their mobile. We insisted on making the payment through our mobile. However as that website appeared fishy, we chucked them out of the house. Beware of such people please.

    I discovered that they had given their own names when I went and checked up their Facebook profiles. Nothing about their work with Helpage India was mentioned there.

    1. The domain is owned by a email id mahiwaldia@helpage
      However, on checking online, I cannot find any person named Mahi Waldia with links to Helpage India

  5. How to create a mystical cult and live rich and happy, it teaches the Moon’s Sect, excellent child of the statutes ‘non-profit’, which has profited so well, first of all in ‘tax-free’ privileges, to build a substantial business empire funded entirely with funds collected planetary by his followers. The unhealthy seeds of that era, we find them in our time, levied on issues potentially ruinous: a new demographic types living on the costs of the productive society, increases more and more causing the annihilation of the Christian West, where the prize for the tangible merit, it is the key of its success. In this autobiographical book, I tell my twenty years of experience at the service of Sun Myung Moon, a guru determined to take the place of Christ, preventing the notorious discomfort...

  6. Muskan is the platform for all those peoples who want to give their participation for the development of the society. And for this purpose, Muskan invites people to support as the way they want. You can either be the volunteer or you can send the monetary support or you can even give the materialistic as well. What all you need to do is just call Muskan 9953659128.