By Mubaraka Contractor (Vodafone Volunteer at ARMMAN)
The Vodafone World of Difference is an initiative running successfully for the past 3 years; this program is conducted by Vodafone India foundation each year. It’s one of a kind program as it allows 25 employees to participate in the social space and contribute by using their skills, time and bandwidth by working with a non-profit organization. I am one of the fortunate volunteers to have been selected this year and I thank that moment when I decided to fill up the form on our internal website, while nominations were seeked by the foundation team in early Nov 2013.
After reading various NGO profiles that participate in the program, there was something about ARMMAN that caught my attention. The cause ARMMAN worked for was in itself very heart touching. I was immediately curious to know about the kind of work they were doing on reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in India.
Finally, I got the opportunity and was selected to work for ARMMAN and there I got a mail in my inbox stating I have been chosen to work as a resource and marketing strategist at ARMMAN.
I visited Armman’s website many times to read about their work, I wanted to learn quickly about what they do and what would be expected out of me.
Their projects like mMitra, HERO , Aarogya sakhi home based care programmes impressed me.
I was introduced to Alvin (Head of Operation, Armman) by the facilitators of Dasra, a non-profit which helps Vodafone Foundation to implement the World of Difference Program. After a 30 minutes intense conversation with Alvin, I could sense the passion and commitment he had and felt a little nervous whether I was the right fit or not. I finally had a work plan ready for my 7 week stint in the Karjat three day workshop by DASRA on 18th Jan 2014 and felt extremely excited and charged up. I was dying to reach the ARMMAN office!
I reached the ARMMAN office at Santacruz at 9.30am on 20th January, my 1st day at work was quite welcoming as I met this very very friendly & warm person name Tanzoom. The rest of the team Tania , Nivedita , Dr sandhya , Bipin and Pradnya were extremely polite and encouraging as well !! I felt like I knew them forever, and the comfort level was great! I also enrolled for the mMitra service to get a first-hand experience to the voice call services.
The team inducted me with key information I needed. I was amazed at their simplicity. There was no pantry or in-house loo or any office boy, like we have at corporates but no one was complaining. I started enjoying this austere spirit with which everyone worked.
I requested two of my teams to send Vodafone goodies and gave it to the entire team: this was my way of telling them that they are doing a great job and Vodafone appreciates!!
I was privileged to meet the founder Dr Aparna Hegde on my second day of work. I could see the fire in her eyes and she wanted to see the same spark in all of us to go beyond the call of duty to get project HERO and all other projects moving. I wanted to know more about her and gathered a lot of information from the rest of the team members. I was impressed with the kind of person and leader she was!
“Only a firebrand like her could be the founder of ARMMAN” I said to myself. She told me before she parted that she wanted me to be a team member and not focus only on the tasks handed out. She specified that I have to get myself involved in multiple tasks. That made me a little tensed as I again had a self doubt- Will I be able to meet her expectations?!
And the week unfolded further.
I went to Sion hospital several times to witness the workings of the mMitra project. There were so many pregnant women as young as 18years with empty eyes, and I couldn’t really see any happiness in these would be mothers. About half of them whom Pradnya spoke to, didn’t know anything about maternal health. Some didn’t even know how to put a signature and the rest did not attend basic pre-primary education. I felt very sad about it, but thought to myself- What was it that I could do? The answer was- I could surely bring a smile on their face by making her feel that motherhood is a blessing!
I congratulated all on their pregnancies and shot few pictures of their happy faces, they all posed feeling special.
The health worker Poonam Sharma made a fabulous pitch to enrol women, I got tempted to shoot a few Voice of Customers on her on my Samsung S4 mini given to me by Vodafone for this project and this gave me an idea to create an AV as it was important to project this good work of ARMMAN and show what women felt !!
I got some more ideas to make the mMitra service better like putting a recorded message on health workers phone as experiential information and coached Poonam on how to improve her conversational skills, as coming from training I definitely felt I could teach her some techniques.
As the week progressed I was getting zillion ideas and thought some stuff were no brainers for me and simply could replicate as we had the capability in Vodafone to support i.e. MMS creation for mMitra, virtual classroom for Arogya Sakhi. Got the animated video compressed and taught the team how to do it so that one can send it on whatsapp to Aarogya sakhi and not wait to show them while on field!! Also, spoke too many connects to help team with their projects which were in pipeline and as a result got Cardinal Gracious from Vasai on Board for Project HERO and a donation of 12,000 rupees.
The mMitra survey got launched and Tanzoom taught me how to create a Google form. I managed to get three Laptops for ARMMAN through Vodafone corporate IT team.
Too many things were happening and I felt that god has been kind and helped me help this wonderful team and support the super work they were doing.To witness the work of ARMMAN on field was a burning desire which is now getting fulfilled yes!! I am going with the team to visit 4-5 villages on 6th Feb and will keep you posted on the experience.
I am so grateful to all who helped me get here to ARMMAN and am sure this is sowing the seeds for a lifetime relationship as I love the spirit , working culture, of the NGO that really help make a difference. Their simplicity, transparency and their NEVER GIVE UP attitude is contagious!