Explaining the need for the professional volunteering Ramesh, the founder of Junglescapes says “ Our NGO is working towards restoration of degraded wildlife habitats in bandipur Tiger reserve. There we have plots for restoration, each plot is 125 acres. We have to monitor all our project activities ( 50-60) in these plots but it gets difficult to monitor them all at the same time, so we wanted to achieve this via this project. We needed a project management tool which can monitor all our activities and can show which activities are ongoing and which are delayed so that it could help us in managing our focus and time for completing every activity”.
He further mentions that the project went quite smoothly. The volunteer first wanted to understand the problem areas and then came up with ideas and suggestions of building a tool on excel instead of purchasing it. After carefully planning the indicators and testing they came up with a simple and effective tool for the organisation.
Echoing Ramesh’s sentiments Akshay says “ If the volunteer feels that the NGO is doing the right thing then the project always works well. Ramesh sir was very friendly with us and as an NGO he was able to tell us the story about what the outcome/impact would be. That is how we got the requirements from them. After clearly understanding the requirements, we suggested creating an MS Excel tool. The NGO appreciated this idea and then we prepared a timeline to work on the project and execute it”. Akshay mainly focused on getting the requirements and the planning whereas Chandrakant worked on the technical part which was tool development
Fascinated by NGO’s technical skills, Akshay states “ We were really inspired by the NGO as they were very tech savvy. To our surprise they were making use of geothermal mapping to get the data which was rare for any NGO to use or understand. It was a great experience talking to them. Ramesh sir also gave us some insights about working in plant as he had experience there”
Praising the support received from his co-volunteer and NGO, Chandrakant says “ My co-volunteer was very helpful, he started all the conversation with the NGO as he had experience in working with them. With his help we were able to define requirements and our project objective.” After collecting all the data and aspects, he developed a dashboard for the NGO to handle all their projects at once and also track their staff performances on those projects to increase efficiency.
Recalling a significant moment during the project Chandrakant mentions ” Project started during Pandemic and all were connected through Google meet. Since the project was also online, I have attended the meeting while travelling to Pune from my home and then I realized that the online world has given us more opportunity to connect at any time and also help to work together. “
“Frankly , no challenges faced with the volunteers at all” recollects Ramesh. He adds “Akshay was more experienced as he had handled proengage projects earlier. There was nice synergy between the volunteers. Akshay was leading and planning, and Chandrakant was executing the project. They took our feedback regularly and made changes accordingly.” The volunteers were following up regularly with Ramesh even when he was hard to reach and busy. This motivated the project coordinator alot to continue with the project.
According to Akshay there were not any major hiccups but he did have some issues during the second outburst of Covid. “ The covid times are really challenging. During April we could not connect with the NGOfor a month and the meetings were delayed because of the second wave of covid. I had personal commitments with my family but the NGO understood it very well. Ramesh sir treated us like his children.” says Akshay Despite all the challenges and delay, when all of them connected they had a good insightful conversation.
Applauding Chandrakant’s support throughout the project Akshay mentions “ I would say it was the support from my co-volunteer who kept me going. To have a parallely motivated person alongside the project is an amazing support. When I was not in touch with the NGO, Chandrakant initiated the conversation and scheduled the meetings. Also the requirement of ngo was something within our ability, we just had to understand how we can manage our time.”
From Chandrakant’s side the challenges were of different nature. He faced difficulties in the initial phase while integrating the NGO requirements on a dashboard which can be used by NGO staff easily. “Since I had not worked with macros and advanced excel earlier he had to add in extra hours to learn that through website and youtube tutorials. But the curiosity to learn and help the NGO kept me going with all the support from my team” he admitted.