Aakash Mann of Volunteer Yatra, is non-judgemental and open to experimenting with new ideas and sharing their knowledge and experience.
Taking a cue from this reality, Volunteer Yatra was launched.
The concept of volunteering for Indian Youth is an activity that they can indulge in, along with giving back to society.
The Director of Volunteer Yatra, Aakash Maan, turned this concept towards the development of rural India and a “yatra- Hindi for word journey” began.
Aakash describes the beginning of this journey as a zeal in him to follow his heart to make some sustainable changes in his life.
What is volunteer yatra?
Volunteer Yatra is a social initiative aimed to help people traveling the country and also uplift, promote and elevate rural India. The idea is to mobilize the skilled youth and change-makers who are ready to volunteer to different communities, for them to live in real- raw culture for a minimal subscription cost as their food and accommodation are taken care of by the host ( yes ! it is free) and at the same time, they are expected to help the host with their skills to come up with a sustainable solution.
Lockdown during 2020 gave them the opportunity to start building the team and work on research and development. They held a crowdfunding round with the promotion of Volunteer Yatra, which was successful. The ones who participated were allowed to become the pioneer volunteers of the project.
By April of 2021, coronavirus again touched the peak, and they moved to online volunteering. The significance of volunteering showed a great impact on people and the rural community.
Volunteer Yatra then partnered with different types of projects and businesses such as homestay owners who were looking to grow their business in a sustainable manner, as well as contribute to the overall well-being of the villages/towns they were located in. Successful projects were launched in Ratnagiri and Kinnaur, in Himachal Pradesh, based on organic farming, permaculture, farming, and waste management and a large number of volunteers were mobilized.
What changes did volunteer yatra bring to the volunteers?
The idea of volunteer yatra is a symbiotic partnership between the master and the learner. Skilled people often had a problem of them not getting a practical environment to polish their real talent, which they were getting through such opportunities.
Aakash says,” More than this, a very charismatic change was in the behavior of volunteers, that people were learning the importance of sustainability & minimalism.”
Volunteering helped in bringing people back to their roots which urban lifestyle somewhere took away from them”
Any change takes time to shift the attitude and mindset. But slowly, people understood the importance and outcome. Most homestay owners refused to give free accommodation and meals. Soon they saw the advantages of having a trained, experienced mentor guiding them on marketing and sustainability and their profits increased many folds. So that expense was justified in the long run.
To connect with people, Volunteer Yatra arranges a lot of workshops, especially for children, and develops trust within the community. Many cultural events like “Kabir Virajo” are organized for local singers, to bring in the blast of enthusiasm and a bond that only the diversity of art can reach.
Aakash is an ideal millennial who, apart from having a degree, a well-paying job in a city, and growing up in the commercial and political capital, yet, thought of reconnecting to rural India and helping in its development.
Aakash went through normal schooling, college, IIT Jee perps. He hated being pressured to follow the tribe, yet he finally joined engineering.
Business-minded Aakash, immediately planned to have an alternative income. Hence opened an online clothing store, but he was not satisfied with this concept. He then moved to Photography and filmmaking. Soon he was winning accolades for his documentaries, ‘The City we built’, and established Zifinity Productions, with his team.
In May of 2020, one of his friends running a homestay, asked him to volunteer and help in marketing. With Akash’s help, his friend’s business grew in multiple folds and this satisfaction of making something impactful pushed him to think about this opportunity.
This idea stayed with Aakash and this is how he founded Volunteer Yatra, the idea of helping small- local organizations working in rural India which can help in solving problems like rural migration, practical learning opportunities for youth, and climate change.
It took a year of research and struggle to establish “Volunteer Yatra”. Throughout the covid phase, most people were working from home. All they needed was good wifi. And that is when maximum people took advantage of such initiatives which gave them the opportunity to travel and work in the mountains and volunteer to develop the nation.
When you put your heart and soul into any initiative, success will follow. Out of 700 startups, they got selected in the top 25 startups in the area of creating a sustainable food value chain. Organized by the ministry of youth affairs, United Nations Volunteers, and UNDP.
Not only this, they recently got shortlisted in the top 12 social startups that are working on mobilizing volunteers on a large scale. These are just the tip of the ice berk, the real reward this project gets is in the impact that volunteer yatra and its yatris create in the lives of people.
Aakash explains all these achievements as just the experiment phase for him. By now his project has completed 250 volunteering projects and he has only learned from them. Each volunteering project is very exceptional and the team is growing each day.
Rest for Aakash, his life is making him know all the better versions of himself each day and in this journey, he has miles and miles to go.
For now, the only focus is on scaling Volunteer Yatra to a new height where lots of people can take part in and make a contribution to the lives of people who are often unknown of the tools which can help them to reach par excellence, all they need is a hand which can make this possible. Finally, we all need the best way to give back to society, while Volunteer Yatra is definitely one of those revolutions waiting to create a huge impact.
A photo gallery of various projects undertaken by Volunteer Yatra.
Contact – details.
Email ID- firstname.lastname@example.org
Important links: https://linktr.ee/volunteeryatra
Instagram Account- https://instagram.com/volunteeryatra