In the poorly lit hall of a municipal school at Sion Koliwada, the bright faces of a group of children who are learning to dance, stood out.
Shy grins streaking their face, they stepped on to the stage, some mimicking dance steps of their favorite Bollywood stars, others moving sinuously to hip hop or folk tunes.
Their dance teacher Binjal Parekh, 26, a chartered accountant and wedding decorator, conducted a summer camp for them as a volunteer with Sparsh, an NGO.
In another part of town, T. Sundaram (62), a retired army colonel, has been putting his MSc in computers to social use. He teaches computers to mentally challenged children at a municipal school in Goregaon. Binjal and Sundaram found these opportunities through the Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA), which helps place volunteers with different NGOs under its Centre for Promoting Voluntary Action (VOLACT) project.
“We believe that volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development of society. Everyone can contribute time and energy and thereby make a difference,” said Radha Vedantam, project director for VOLACT.
Binjal uses dance as a means to counsel children, most of who worked as hawkers or helpers in shops and restaurants. All of them now attend school. “For the two hours that they are here, the kids get a break. It is the ideal recreational activity for them,” she said. Manju (8) who used to work as a rag picker, now attends school and loves performing Maharashtrian folk dance.