Like minds join hands

Like minds join hands

When most people join a community service organisation, they assume it doesn’t involve too much work. But the members of ‘Community Service Bangalore’ (CSB), a City-based group, proves that to be untrue as they spend as much time as they can on the set-up. CSB was started in 1998 by expatriate Mae Bar, and is now headed by Shaista Farooqui, who is the president of the organisation. She says that the  members spend “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year” on the organisation, if needed.

“The aim of the group is to support charities in and around Bengaluru while providing a forum for women residents and new comers,” she adds. Much like a support group for women, CSB helps out 12 charities a year and do their best to collect funds for the same purpose. 

“This is not just a platform for like-minded friends to come together. I have been a member for the last six years. It has evolved into an organisation that not only attempts to make a difference in the lives of people but also empowers them to fight for a better future. We currently support 12 charities in Bengaluru, which include those that stand up for under-privileged girl children, senior citizens, mentally challenged, physically disabled, orphans and other marginalised sections of society,” she explains.

Shaista elaborates on the transformation by saying, “Over the years, the managing committee has changed hands and is now headed by 11 executive committee members (apart from the president). I have a dynamic set of ladies who take time out from their busy schedules to plan activities, raise funds for our charities and see that these activities are properly executed. Our executive committee members are from various walks of life and different backgrounds. But we all have a common purpose and a common vision, which is to organise events and programmes to raise awareness and collect funds for the charities we support.” They have bazaars and ‘santhes’ for this purpose.

The group meets every Tuesday. As Shaista says, “The first two Tuesdays are craft week, where we assemble and make items for our sales from various sources. While some are donations or readymade products, others are hand made by us. I used to head the crafts department.  The third Tuesday is called ‘Coffee Mornings’, where we get together for a cup of coffee and share experiences. We also have speakers from different walks of life coming in. This is followed by a question and answer session.”  The fourth Tuesday is specifically for the committee members, who make the agenda for the next month.

Talking about why she joined the group, she adds, “I heard about it through word-of-mouth and joined in 2009. It was a good way for me to give back to society.” She enjoys spending time with her fellow members and stays awake all night working, if needed. “It’s a full-time commitment, but we all take into consideration each others lives. We realise we have family commitments so we make sure they are given enough time.” Suchitra Kaul Mishra joined six months ago and adds, “I went there as a guest speaker and found it appealing.”

Chandini says, “The biggest challenge we face here is fundraising. We realised that people take a step back when it comes to charity but donate for entertainment events. So we try add entertainment value to our charity events. We are organising a walkathon as one of our next projects.” The other committee members include — the vice-president Usha Vishwanath, secretary Asha Khandpur, treasurer Chitra Vaidya, vice-president of editorial Ashwini Pai, vice-president of membership Neelam Gupta, vice-president of charities Latha Subramaniam, vice-presidents of craft and workshops Usha Aggarwal and Sandhya Kunjur, vice-president of events Rajni Mohinani and vice-president of media Sangeeta Radhakrishna.  “They all contribute their with skills, knowledge and experience. Committee members and other members do voluntary work and we are not here just to socialise, network with new friends and make merry. Together we make a wonderful team!” she says.

They host a variety of events including road trips to interesting destinations within the city, walkathons, ‘Members Nite’ which usually includes a cultural programme like a play or some fine live music and many others. From their modest beginning in 1998, they have grown and now have nearly 125 members. 

(For details, contact farooquishaista0@gmail.com)

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