Kick starting the 2010 Navratri season, Bay Area’s Dandia team pulled off a hat-trick with sold-out shows on Oct 2, 9 and 16. All the more amazing, given there were at least ten other Dandia events on these days. Here is what the volunteers had to say about the event.
Hitesh Iyer & Ansy Mathews, BA Dandia Leads
Q. You both must have had a lot of time on your hands to lead the Dandia.
Hitesh: Time was the last thing I had, let alone a lot of it. I did not realize the amount of work and time that would be needed in undertaking this role.
Ansy: I had no idea what I was getting into. But now that it is over, I miss the stress, the panic and the urge to publicize the event to every other random person I find.
Q. So how did you get involved with Dandia and what drove you to lead the event?
Hitesh: A close friend of mine introduced me to Vibha; however for the first year or so I was simply a patron. Then, one day I saw a project video “Alamb”. It was an eye opener, and I have been an active volunteer since. My involvement with Vibha as a volunteer, coincidentally, started around the Dandia season of 2008 with ticketing. It was a very satisfying task, especially when I was able to put things into perspective and understand how my efforts could help under privileged children. In 2009, I took a bigger role with leading ticketing for Dandia. In 2010, I felt that it was time for me to step-up to the challenge, and based on my past experience with volunteering for Dandia with other volunteers, I knew it would be a lot of fun!
Ansy: I had a rewarding experience volunteering for Dandia in 2009. So I decided to take up a bigger responsibility this year and I am very happy with what we were able to accomplish with our volunteers.
Q. Vibha Dandia being one of the many Dandia events in the Bay Area, how did you pull 3 sold out shows ?
Hitesh: In my honest opinion, we sold out due to the sheer dedication of all the involved volunteers. To get into weeds of things, publicity team did a fabulous job by utilizing all possible mediums of marketing, while staying within budget. Our volunteers also helped by going out of their way to make sure, tickets were hand delivered to the patrons making their experience personalized. Also we used two artists this time.
Ansy: I agree that the publicity team did a superb job in getting the word out with physical publicity via fliers, posters and advertising on TV as well as radio. Tickets were priced competitively and helped to bring in people for 3 sold out shows.
Q. This is one co-lead partnership I’ve seen to be very successful. How did you make this co-lead stuff work so well?
Hitesh: I co-lead ticketing with Ansy in 2009. Based on that experience, I knew off the bat that this partnership will be successful. We had a clear understanding of our responsibilities, which were executed in a timely manner, and we were familiar with each other’s working style. We were also well acquainted with the other’s dedication to making this event successful. Neither would shy away from stepping up and covering each other whenever needed. These few and simple things made this partnership a success, which eventually reflected in the success of the event itself.
Ansy: Good communication and team work. We synced up every day and discussed things to be done. We had our own action items to take care of, made sure it was done on time and also covered for each other as necessary.
Q. What is your take away from this event?
Ansy: Nothing is impossible if you have the will to do it. Make the maximum use of the limited resources you have and put in your 100% to make it work.
Hitesh: Hard work for a good cause ALWAYS goes well.
Chandrasekhar Poorna, Logistics
Q. You’d taken a hiatus from Vibha and now you just successfully executed logistics for Dandia on 3 consecutive weekends. How do you feel?
Chandu: (24 hours later) Tired and sleepy!
(5 days later) It was a blast and a very satisfying experience. What else can I say, the volunteers made it happen!
Jubil Mathew and Harini Ganesan, Ticketing
Q. You have a toddler and a baby respectively on your hands, and your phones were ringing non-stop for last minute tickets. Anything you’d like to share with volunteers who’re new parents.
Jubil: About the phones ringing non-stop, it was insane especially during the last Dandia. We sold out 2 days before the event and I was getting calls every fifteen minutes till Date of Event. Managing ticketing for the four weeks around the event would not have been possible without the support of my wife Tina. She helped with handing out tickets in and around Redwood City and managed Ethan and volunteered during all three days. Not sure where she gets her energy from. Overall, I enjoyed working with a wonderful co-lead Harini, a great leadership and publicity team and I am looking forward to volunteering and spreading the awareness of Vibha’s work.
Harini: Well I joined Vibha since the cause was close to my heart but being so far from the grass-roots, I always felt a connection missing, which brought out my complete passion. I think my son helped fix the broken link and get me more grounded into volunteering. As for managing him and volunteering, like Jubil mentioned, I don’t think without our spouse’s support we’d have managed. Omkar not only looked after Akhil but also managed to make 300 paans at the same time (and I thought women were the ones good at multi-tasking). But above all I think what made it work was the understanding and unconditional support I received from the event leads and the team. I think the fact that I had a great co-lead, who himself knew what it took to manage a kid and volunteer, really made it easy on me. I even managed to get some tips and tricks on baby care from him.
Rahul Sawhney, Publicity
Q. Three sold out shows with people being on waiting lists. Tell us what was the magic in making this happen.
Rahul: Although we pursued various marketing channels such as Radio, TV, Online, Print and Digital Media, the real magic was created by highly motivated and driven volunteers. Initially ticket sales were lagging but volunteers put their hearts and souls into publicizing the event by calling their friends, distributing publicity materials and selling tickets. It was amazing and heart-warming to see their motivation and dedication.
Q. You joined Vibha recently. What motivated you? Also share with us some interesting experiences if any.
Rahul: I had helped and participated in events organized by Vibha-Austin and really believed in Vibha’s noble mission. After moving to Bay Area it was only natural that I get involved with this organization. The fact that a few minutes of my time can truly impact the life of an underprivileged child is what motivates me.
Urvi Ved, Decor
Q. You joined Vibha this year. After Kalakaar, you did a fantastic job with Dandia decor. What did you like most about your involvement with Vibha?
Urvi: I started volunteering not knowing what projects were supported by Vibha and how children’s lives were shaped with the money raised by volunteers. As I got more involved with Vibha, I became aware of success stories of real children who faced much more than just socio-economic challenges. With event fundraising, these children are given educational or vocational training with a view to enable them to grow into self-reliant adults. It’s an extremely fulfilling experience to know that I have in my minuscule way contributed to better the life of a child far away back home in a village, I probably have never heard of. I won’t even meet the “heroes” of these success stories. But I can sit back and be content that in decorating Dandia halls or assisting in marathon arrangements, I will have made an impact on a child’s dream for education. A few hours of my time equals the opportunity to educate, empower and enable an underprivileged child.