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Asif Ali VM - Champion - Social Volunteer Awards 2020

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

I’m strong believer of conversations and dialogues which brings human connections. I would like to bring positive changes in people and in society by right actions. I have done my graduation in sociology and master's in social work. I’m a former Gandhi fellow, placed in thane municipal corporation schools in Maharashtra. Also, I’m a former international citizen service volunteer. That was a 3 month volunteering program funded by UK government with an aim of alleviating poverty. I have volunteered with different organizations across India. I’m former NSS volunteer and NGC (national green corps) volunteer. I’ve been volunteering and working in the field of education for more than 4 years. I’ve worked on special education project in different district in Kerala. I also got selected for international youth volunteer project (one year) in Poland which I consider it as a great achievement.


I think I started my volunteering in formal way is with National Service Scheme when I was in school. Since then I’m enjoying this. Going to typical tribal colony away from home for 7 days and helping them to construct home was a newly experience. I really enjoyed every seconds I spend their, though staying away from home is too difficult for me.

Later on I have been serving every year in my own home town by giving food materials to the needful people. My family used to do this and I also got the opportunity to be part of the entire process which was really satisfactory and it helped to the make person I’m.

During my social work studies, I used to visit lot of organizations which works in the social sector. Though it was my mandatory field work, I sometimes take the time out to voluntarily visit and serve different organizations in Pondicherry. One was, an organization working for the disabled children, me and my friends organized a cultural program for them. I think that is one of the best moments in my life. I believe if you could bring smile on someone’s face is the gift you can give to that person. Even our faculties in the department appreciated our small attempt. Later on, we have done the same in other places as well. During the Chennai flood, we (friends) took the initiative ‘skip a meal’ campaign in Pondicherry university. There were more than 10 hostels in our campus at that time, and the campaign turned out to be a great success due to huge participation of students community. I’m a former ICS (international citizen service) volunteer. And I was placed in rural part of Maharashtra along with international and national volunteers. I think that is one of the best volunteering experience I have ever had in my life. Basically we were working with 4 different tribal villages on women empowerment. We did worked among the tribal women of all the villages particularly. We spend lot of time in the community, conducted SHG meetings, we went to each houses multiple times every day, worked with the local people to understand the community and problems they are facing. As a result we strengthened few SHGs (self-help groups) and also made 5 new SHGs in the villages. Not just that, we actually made them raise voice against the injustice. Speaking to a group of people, convincing them, and make them understand was a big challenge for me before. But I have done all of that despite of the barriers. Whatever changes we have made in those communities are sustainable. This journey has taught me to think everything critically, have patience and be positive. I also got the opportunity to work with slum children in Mumbai and worked with other non-profit organizations which engaged with educational programs in India so far. Volunteered in Calicut during the first flood in Kerala. I’m really grateful for all the volunteering opportunities that comes to me from different parts. All of these experience is actually making me more grateful for who I’m and what I’m. These experiences has taught me some amazing lessons and values in life which I will carry it further.


Well, I started volunteering since my childhood. But I was not aware I was doing volunteering. My family showed me the importance of giving to the needful people what we have and we should feel grateful for what we have. And from there only I learned the process of giving and making changes in people’s lives. I experienced the joy, happiness, and change that has been brought by the small actions of mine. I truly believe we all have the potential to make changes in people and society if we are here to use what we have. The results of my actions is making me volunteer again and again, because I could see there is a huge difference between doing nothing and doing something.


Volunteering is the one thing in my life which brings me immense happiness by giving. Its an amazing tool to bring change in ourselves and people around us. Volunteering made me realise the joy of living is in giving. Whenever I go for that, I could possibly put all my heart in to it. Doing things without expecting anything other than happiness is volunteering for me.


Smart learning hub project




iLAB (innovation laboratory) is a no- profit organization which engaged with educational programs in coastal area of Kerala. Our aim is to empower youth and children as the drivers of next level innovation through advancing knowledge, ideas, and experience.

This particular project was started during the lockdown time. Many students who are living in the coastal belt didn’t have any facilities to learn because of the pandemic situation. So, this project aims to facilitates learning for all those children by creating learning centres in their community.


iLab was running two learning hubs in the payyanakkal area of Calicut for 6- 10th standard students before the lockdown. And there were less than hundred students were with us at that time. But when the pandemic hits, school has been shut down for all, people were not able to go outside of their home. It was very difficult for all of them. And later on government decided to start the classes in online. But in our community, majority of the students don’t have TVs, and android phones in their home. And there is an issue with network in that area as well. They were not able to study while others were attending online classes in TV, and mobile phones. That’s when our team decided to start an online campaign in social media and other platforms to raise fund for electronic gadgets. We received huge support from people, many contributed electronic gadgets itself while others contributed with money. In the mean while we have talked with the ward counsellor to arrange learning hubs in the community. We have been given different anganwadi spaces to set up learning hubs. We have inaugurated 8 smart learning hubs to facilitate learning in the community. With the help of SHGs and counsellor we have spread the word to all. And more 400 students registered in our different learning hubs. In order to run the hubs smoothly, we have appointed one trained volunteers each to all the hubs. And this volunteers were identified from the same community. If any of the registered student is not coming to hub, it would be very easy to know and bring him/her back to the hubs with the help of this volunteers. Later, Samagra Shiksha Kozhikode approached us to show their support in creating such hubs in the community. They have send two teachers each to all the hubs to ensure the quality of education. And again we created 3 more learning hubs in the community with the help Prabal India and appointed same volunteers to each centres. Whole total there were more than 600 students registered in our hubs. All the learning hubs ran smoothly till the area is announced as the Containment zone. On parallel, we have given separate online classes for class 10 students with our selected volunteers for ‘mission 10 project’. That happened in mobile phones. Some volunteers were able to take classes through video call while others had taken over voice call due to network issue.


We have set up our learning hubs and started the classes on June 8 onwards and it continued till august end. After then the areas was declared as containment zone. So, we couldn’t open the hubs till now. In the initial few weeks we worked morning till evening to start the hubs. And then, I mostly worked from home. Approximately I must have volunteered for at least 150 hours.


I played the role as research &development lead of the iLAb. Also I ran the campaign in my circle and visited the community and leaders multiple times to set up the learning hubs in the community. I have given training to all the volunteers in online to ensure the quality of the content they are providing. And I’m responsible for checking things are going right with the volunteers. I played the role as guide in need for all the volunteers.

My experiences in the field of education has helped me to address the problems in the community. Our main was to make this project sustainable, so I used my communication skill, presentation skill, social skill to empower the volunteers. I have shared practical solutions for many challenges in the field with volunteers. And took confidence building session to boost their confidence and capacity. Our volunteers know the community better than us, that’s the soul reason we chosen them from within the community. They are capable of solving many problems in their community, we just have to guide them to succeed in this. I ensured their efforts have been rewarded to keep up the their spirit always. This is the first time I’m doing online volunteering. Earlier I didn’t know what was it. But we can still change many things while working in online. I actually changed my work in to online mode. I took some of the trainings in online that was a new experience. That build lot of confidence in me and taught me to use that platform to bring changes and influence people. It made me aware, no matter how far you are, you can still work and change big things. I realised online campaigning is also a powerful tool. With the experience of this project I was able to collect big amount of money by my own to do the bottles up challenge in One of the government school in Hyderabad.


Huge number of students were excluded from getting education during the pandemics. But with our project we were able to bridge the educational gap in the community. Most of the students in the community were not having any facilities to learn and we have facilitated their learning by creating learning hubs in their community which is very accessible for all of them. By doing that we ensured no one from our community is lagging behind and everyone is getting good education. Buying a new gadget is a very difficult for the families living there. Therefore, our project is a big help for all those suffering families and that is making a huge difference in their lives. And the selected volunteers from communities are also getting paid for their service and we also provide other support in their education and their lives. Whatever we do in the community is turned out to be the benefit of the community. Once it’s removed from containment zone area we will resume our work as it is. We are also planning to provide electronic tab to all the students to promote e learning and self- learning in future..


  • GOAL 4: Quality Education


  • Former Research and development lead of iLAB.

  • Promoted as Happiness Lead of iLAB.

  • I was one of the ten Indian volunteers who have got selected for ICS program.

  • I was invited to talk on volunteering and social work in multiple organizations and colleges.

  • Selected for one year International youth volunteer project in Poland


I’m planning to start an organization who works for self-development and mental health of youth. Since I’m new to create an organization TGF and ISV can support and mentor me in creating one.


Are you an aspiring volunteer, creating impact in your community?

Apply now for Social Volunteer Awards 2021

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