The Akshaya Patra Foundation has always welcomed individuals who are keen on understanding our cause better and working with us. College students are often encouraged to intern with us and write blogs about their experiences. In May, 2014, one such student, Surupasree Sarmmah approached Akshaya Patra with a request to do an internship. She is a student of Media Studies from one of the most reputable colleges in Bangalore. Teeming with enthusiasm and creative ideas, here is Surupasree’s take on her time spent with The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
So it began with a phone call…
It was about 10 a.m. on 01 April, 2014 when I received a call from the Human Resource (HR) department of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. They called me to confirm a formal interview after receiving my mail regarding the summer internship at an NGO as a part of my academic course. After the interview, the HR Executive introduced me to the Manager of the Communications Department. I was very excited to get this opportunity with the organisation as I always wanted to work in a place that works for children, an organisation where I can share my time and knowledge for a cause that will help improve the place we belong to.
The very first day, my mentor and I sat together and formulated a plan for the entire internship. This was done in order to make work easy and systematic for me as I was new to the Department and had limited knowledge about the work. Since it was the first day, my mentor also helped me establish a cordial rapport with other team members of the Department. This initiation turned out to be very helpful during the entire tenure of my internship. I spent my first day by gathering basic know-how about the Foundation and its work. The next day onwards I started working according to the proposed plan.
Here is an overview of the charted plan. The plan was divided into two categories: content and creative. Under ‘content’ category, I had to submit four blog articles—one blog per week. These blogs were the account of my experiences during two school visits and one kitchen visit, and of the overall experience. Under the ‘creative’ category, I had to come up with an audio-visual feature with the element of novelty that can be used as a tool for online campaigns by the Foundation. For this I made a photo essay video.
The most memorable moments of my internship were the school and kitchen visits. It was amazing to see how millions of children are benefitted by the noble work of the Foundation. The direct impact of food and learning could be seen in children of the Government schools. It was indeed a pleasure to spend time with these kids who dare to dream big despite all odds.
They are enthusiastic, determined, creative and always willing to learn something new. They dream and wish that when they grow up they would help their parents to live a comfortable life. The two visits to the Akshaya Patra beneficiary schools were very encouraging. The students taught me to view life differently and to take everything positively. They also taught me not to worry about the things that we don’t have, instead to set a goal to achieve it. I got along with the kids quite fast and was glad to have shared some light moments with them by interacting, playing and posing for photographs.
My next visit was to the Foundation’s kitchen. There are two centralised kitchens in Bangalore, one is in Rajajinagar which feeds over 90,000 children and the other is in Vasanthpura which caters to about a lakh children. Apart from catering to Government schools, the Vasanthpura kitchen also caters to runaway children, drought affected areas and old age homes. Of the two kitchens, I visited the Vasanthpura Kitchen. My interaction with the kitchen staff gave an insight to how this humongous process functions. It was a wonderful experience to see how the kitchen operates 320 days a year to feed children with the most nutritious food.
On April 19 and 20, 2014, the Foundation organised a photo exhibition at Chitrakala Parishath, one of the prestigious art institutes in Bangalore. During the internship I attended the event and report my experience. This exhibition was a great success with over 200 people visiting us. This was a great learning experience on how a big event like this is organised in a calm and composed manner.
As an intern, I never felt overlooked at any point of time. Everyone at The Akshaya Patra Foundation is friendly, helpful and hopeful. They treated me like one among them and encouraged me to explore more. They offered me a platform to be independent and take up initiatives and tasks like that of a regular Akshaya Patra employee. An encouraging aspect of my tenure was that my suggestions and ideas were given equal consideration as those of any other team member and there was no ground for bias. I observed that this place is a perfect balance of work and leisure time. The most loved moment at the organisation was the lunch hour when everyone comes together and relishes the food the Foundation provides. The best part is the employees get to taste the same food that is prepared for the beneficiary schools.
Truly, I have enjoyed working with the Foundation. These 30 days of internship in this whole new world of hope, determination and courage to do something for the betterment of the society has instilled in me much more positivity and a sense of never to lose hope and of continuing to do good work for the place we live in to make it pleasant for everyone.