While I was traveling to Mumbai, I stayed at Deepika’s place in Navi Mumbai. I met her for the first time on a train journey we took in 2015, called The Jagriti Yatra. So here I was in Deepika’s spacious apartment in Navi Mumbai, which was acting both as her residence and the office for her social startup- Karmyo . The amount of time Deepika and her team spent in their office, discussing, planning and making phone calls was significant. However there was an ease with which all this was happening. The tension that I have seen in most workplaces was non-existent here.
I was curious to know what Karmyo exactly did and what they were currently working on. Deepika and Anshuman, co founders of Karmyo were more than happy to take some time off and tell me more about it. Anshuman, an MBA from France, and Deepika, a graduate from NIFT along with a few more friends, would spend their weekends volunteering for different causes while they were still working in the corporate. The sense of happiness and meaning that small acts of volunteering brought to their lives was significant. “There was a sense of greater purpose”, as Anshuman puts it. And in their attempt to spread and share this happiness, they started including more people in their weekend volunteering activities. From a few they were gradually growing into a whole community of people who were exploring giving back as a way to happier living. They would spend their time with children in orphanages, giving them something valuable in form of skills, memories, and guidance among others. This growing community was then formally given the name of Karmyo in February 2016, “which comes from the Sanskrit word Karmyog, meaning peace derived from selfless action,” as Deepika puts it. And since their activities are majorly targeted towards younger people, it was only apt that they called their initiative Karmyo.
What do they do at Karmyo?
“Through Karmyo we are looking at building a global community of socially responsible citizens, who find joy in service. Since we do not want this to be limited by borders, we have volunteers from different countries coming to serve in India. But we are also looking at providing Indian youth the opportunity to go and serve beyond the borders of their own country.” Anshuman says.
Apart from cross border volunteering Karmyo team is also working on creating avenues for people to engage in activities locally that allow them to give back to the society in creative ways. The major activities include connecting people to different organisations as volunteers, a week long Abhar Utsav to promote a feeling of gratitude, regular clean up drives, 'priceless' sales, and an annual celebration of creativity and goodness which they call The Good Graffiti Fest. This is what they had been busy with when I was visiting them, preparing for the upcoming Good Graffiti Fest to be held in February 2017.
The Good Graffiti Fest
“The Good Graffiti Fest was where our journey as Karmyo began. We conceived of GGF as an annual festival where artists, organisations, changemakers and citizens could come together as a community to explore creativity, goodness and service, and of course have fun while doing it.” Deepika says. The first fest was held on 14th February 2016 and saw activities like live paintings by professional artists, wall painting, workshops and competitions for children, band performances and more. “But more importantly it helped people connect with organisations around them and know how they could contribute in creating a positive impact.”Anshuman adds.
February 2017 will see its second edition. The highlight this year would be sessions by young changemakers who will share their journeys of change; as also live painting by 25 professional artists, among other events. The theme for this year’s fest is Impact starts with I.
Aabhar Utsav is a week long celebration to nurture a feeling of gratitude among people. This year it was celebrated from 15- 21st November by people all over the world. Students had put up stalls for people to write postcards of gratitude to those they were grateful to. Students of different schools also participated in expressing their gratitude to their friends, family or even strangers. These postcards were designed by children from different orphanages in Mumbai. Apart from writing postcards, an online fundraising event was also conducted, proceeds of which were given to the orphanages.
I ask them about their immediate plans. “Currently, we are trying to create an interactive website where people can maintain their social impact profiles and connect with people all across the world, over it.
At the same time we are also looking to create a strong team for our start up. We are looking for people who believe in power of giving and want to work to promote it. They should however be ready to work in a young dynamic culture like ours. We have people coming from all over the world to intern with us. and our ways of working are much more organic and flexible.” Anshuman tells me.
In this digital age it is rare, if not non-existent to come across start ups trying to promote goodness, and Karmyo is doing quite significant work in that direction. Spending time with their team has made me realise that giving back is essential for a fulfilling life .