Forty youngsters set out for a couple of hours every week, doing their bit to improve leadership skills and the lives of the underprivileged. They are members of Save the Globe (STG), an NGO that has been active for the past four years. STG has four branches in the country; the first was started in Coimbatore and it is the most active.
'The focus areas of STG are youth development, ecological wellness and community development. One of our goals is to create 100 leaders by 2030. These leaders will carry this forward,' says Prasanth Tharmaraj, city level officer, STG.
Recently, over 500 people visiting a popular mall signed a declaration that they will avoid using plastics that can’t be recycled. STG then gave them free cloth bags, saplings and ‘Go Green Kovai’ paper bands.
As part of their activities, college students are trained to speak confidently in front of large audiences, and improve their presentation skills. Their leadership skills are tested and their hidden potential brought out. School children nervous about their board exams and unsure about what to pursue after Class X are helped by a group of youngsters who give them tips on coping with exam stress, assess their interests and provide suggestions.
STG members are from different walks of life and range in age from 19 to 28. A majority of them are recent graduates. Prasanth, a mechanical engineering graduate, heard of STG through his sister and joined the organisation in 2009 when still in college. He credits STG with bringing about a change in his attitude.
Members who are still studying save their pocket money and contribute a particular amount every year to fund the activities. 'Saving a certain amount every month allows us to limit our personal expenses and also brings in a sense of responsibility. We even audit our annual expenditure,' says A. Aravind, the co-ordinator, who joined STG in 2012.
STG’s awareness activities and child sponsorship programmes have been well received. Members say people in some areas have shifted to cloth bags after their anti-plastic campaign in areas such as Gandhipuram, Vadavalli and Sivananda Colony, besides Brookefields mall.
Members spend birthdays with children in orphanages and during Love Feast, supply provisions for old age homes and orphanages and spend the entire day with the inmates. They have also chipped in with supplying material for extra-curricular activities of 77 orphaned and semi-orphaned children in Ooty, Anaikatti and Melanur.
Working with STG has also given its members an edge when it comes to employment. 'In a recent job interview, the interviewers were more interested in my activities with STG than my job skills. My involvement actually turned things in my favour,' says Prasanth.
The members of all branches of STG meet at a fixed venue every quarter to review progress. Those who haven’t met targets are held accountable.
But, it’s not always about work, though. Members also meet over coffee, have a separate online chat group and go out for movies.
'There is a genuine bond among us. I have made many new friends through STG, and have learnt to balance my professional and personal lives,' says Aravind. Most importantly, he says, I know that when I need support, a member is just a call away.