On 15th August, there was hustle and bustle going on in the Dnyaraj Sabhagruh in Thane. All students, volunteers donors and well wishers of Vidyadan Sahayyak Mandal had gathered together to celebrate the 8th foundation day of their esteemed organization. The function started with Be Frank program on topic ‘Freedom and Responsibility. Almost every student present participated in it and it served as a good ‘Mental Warmup Exercise’. It was conducted by Karan Pardeshi and Aditi Pandit.

The main function started at 1500HRS with the welcome song. Then Shri. Shreeram alias Bhau Naniwadekar explained the ever expanding scope of work of the organization from just paying education expenses of students to career guidance, providing internship, taking mock interviews ,’Be The Change’ program for personality development, conversational English class, goal setting, preparation for bank recruitment test, providing laptops for needy students, medical aid, sending the students to Melgat and Somnath to get social awareness and understand value of labour; conducting ‘Be Frank’ program to enhance the communication skills,etc. He also appealed all present to bring more and more donors and volunteers to the organization. He insisted that the KPs(Karyakarta Palaks – Mentors) should develop an informal relationship with their palyas(wards).

Creating social awareness within the students is one of the key goals of VSM and thus four prizes were awarded to students taking social initiatives. Parag Rade took interview of these students.

Here are some of the achievements of the awarded students…

  • When Bharat Kadam had gone to his native place during his vacation, he understood that people were not aware of the ‘Sukanya Scheme’ of the Government. He went from door to door to explain the scheme to the villagers and helped them open Bank Accounts.
  • Dipak Sanas is a medical student associated with VSM who helped the people in nearby slum area when there was a fire outburst.
  • Shubham Gedam had a novel idea of collecting waste papers (रद्दी ) to raise funds to help cancer patients.
  • Dnyaneshwar Shejwal helped the blind students.

Thereafter Shri Jafar Ismail Shaikh , grandfather of one of the students Afsana Shaikh was felicitated by giving आदर्श पालक पुरस्कार for struggling to educate Afsana in most adverse conditions.

Then there was a program सोमनाथ ते मेळघाट. Ponkshe sir informed that VSM sends students to these camps to inculcate the value of labor and create social awareness.The students who participated in the camps then narrated their experiences. They told us that camps are nothing but ‘school without walls’. One of the students, Vaibhav Sonone explained that the camps showed them life beyond college/school, class and home.It’s a journey from ‘I’ to ‘We’. Komal Bedarkar exclaimed that she learned the values equality and fraternity, concepts that she had only read about in the books. Snehal Tanpure got life lasting energy while Manasi Doke saw ‘God in laborer’. Samruddhi Raut got inspiration to go to the Melghat camp by reading the book मेळघाटातील मोहोर.

A documentary was shown based on interviews of students and karyakartas(volunteers) associated with the relevant committee.

Prizes were given away to students with good academic performance.

After that Aditi Pandit, Jyoti Patwardhan and Rajita sawant unraveled the journey of VSM with 23 students, 26 donors and donations of Rs. 23,800 in year 2008 to an astonishing 175 students, 390 donors and donations of Rs.72,52,000 in year 2015.The script was beautifully written and equally well narrated by the trio. The narration ended with an optimistic guideline and a peek into future endeavors with the quote, ‘VSM should be a brand, there should be a cultivation of thoughts; education can be a byproduct’.

Following that, Geeta Shah enlightened us about the crowdfunding campaigns and how it has changed the face of fundraising.

In मनोगत Afsana Shaikh and Jaikishan Patil expressed their gratitude towards VSM for extending monetary help to complete their education.

The high point of the program was Interview of the chief guest Krushnakant Mane.Though a blind, he went to normal school, mastered English and German languages, learned music and became a founder member of ‘Digital Freedom Foundation. The software of accounts package made by him is being used by various state electricity boards, education boards thereby saving thousands of lakhs of rupees. In a short interview of 45 minutes, he touched almost all aspects of life including the education system, politics, reason for India’s failure in the Olympics, etc. His important message to the students was, ‘While accepting any job see the package of satisfaction and not the package of salary; live life to the fullest’.

The program ended with a patriotic song.

This time, there was a notable volunteering from the past students of VSM. Also, a special feature of this year’s program was ‘Art Corner’ i.e display of handicrafts made by students organized by Suparna Belgaonkar. Also, worth mentioning that the man behind the camera in the function was VSM’s student Mayur Mandavkar.