Before yesterday I had never visited a shelter home as part of a corporate social responsibility initiative, in all my four years of corporate existence. Yesterday, along with a group of volunteers, I paid a half day’s visit to Cheshire Homes’ Delhi Unit to interact with its residents, differently-abled persons. Now I’m not sure how or what changed in me that helped make up my mind for volunteering, but I decided I would go a few moments after receiving a call for volunteering via email. Perhaps it was the apparent approachability of the venue that made me think, “sure, I can give it a shot.” I received the email from our company’s CSR club calling for donations (small, big items) and spending some quality time with people who need it the most. I signed up immediately.
Even when it was two weeks away, I was excited for the visit, for it was going to be a whole new experience for me, personally and professionally. I searched my room for donate-able items, and found some—a couple of unused soaps, shaving gel, and mosquito repellent machines. I dropped these items in the donation box arranged for in our office cafeteria.
Knowing that my office’s CSR club was not particularly known for proper planning, I wasn’t surprised to find out a day before the visit that all volunteers would have to arrange for their own travel. What surprised me was the lack of any defined schedule of events for the visit. What all we were told was that we were going to “spread happiness”. How?—that was a debatable matter, or, as it turned out, the organizers didn’t care about sharing it. Anyway, I reached at the venue, by my own, on time.
I woke up early in the morning and was ready to leave by 8.30am. I took the Yellow-line metro, and changed course from Central Secretariat. Boy! how crowded was the first station of Violet line I cannot express in words, for there were seemingly more people on the platform than there are words in this blog post. It took me close to total two hours in transit, and I was at Cheshire Home at 10.15am. The place impressed me at first sight.
Situated in a posh New Delhi region, Cheshire Home is an expansive shelter home for the under-privileged. The place is more than fifty years old and yet is clean and well-maintained. From a brochure I got from the place, I came to know that it is one in a series of many Cheshire Homes across the globe, a chain founded by Lord Leonard Cheshire. There are 25 Cheshire Homes in India, the Delhi unit being the largest one. Cheshire Home Delhi was established by Major General Virendra Singh in 1957. It has been visited by and received praises from such luminaries as Sonia Gandhi, AB Vajpayee, SD Sharma and PV Narashima Rao. While walking through its passages, it was immediately clear to me why it had been so popular among the biggies.