In this fast-paced world, we are all busy trying to achieve something or the other– whether it’s after getting good grades in school or college or getting your work done at office or taking care of home and much more. We get busy doing our work, but we forget about our community.

AFS India is happy to share that the theme for this year’s GYSD Project was“about building your community by taking small steps to make a big difference”. We are grateful to the volunteers and schools all over India to make this a great success. With a participation of more than 2300 participants all over India we were able to create a friendly ambience in our neighborhood,where all our wonderful participants worked towards creating a stronger bond. All participants proved that if we look after each other and care for our community, we’d create a world of understanding, care and love.

For GYSD 2018, we asked each of the volunteers of AFS India to pick at least 10 activities. These activities were thought with the aim of building your community better so that we can look out for each other and create a better world around us. The response was over whelming. Over 100 volunteers and 2000 students from 24 cities in India executed more than 10 activities individually or in a group. A special shout-out goes to Heritage School, Jammu where 1480 students participated in the GYSD activities.

Few quotes by participating AFS volunteers, schools and students: 

“I had recently organized a charity sale for all the construction workers, other helpers and laborers of our society. With the help of my neighbors, I collected anything and everything that was in good condition and could be of use to the poor people. We arranged and displayed everything in a common area. Instead of giving away the things freely, we sold them at nominal prices of Rs 2/5/10. We thought that it would make the thing valuable and it would also maintain their dignity. I also gave away two old laptops to aspiring underprivileged students. We then used the collected money for an elaborate lunch for them all.” Volunteer, AFS India

“These activities left a remarkable impression on the children. They learnt to share and care, to be socially responsible, to love their environment and, above all, universal brotherhood.” School

“I approached one of my neighbor’s uncle who is about 60 years old to listen to his life story. He used to be a classical (Bharat Natyam) dancer, had a very interesting and quite an important story to tell me. He told me about how he came from a small town from Kerala and established his life in Bangalore. The most striking part of his life story was that he was ridiculed and made fun of, by his family members, relatives and friends for choosing to be a classical dancer. This made me know how stereotypical our society has been and is still to a large extent. Gender stereotypes can be very disturbing for a harmonious community. One has to be allowed to do whatever one chooses to do, as long as it doesn’t harm others” Volunteer, AFS India

Volunteers adopting a plant

“I called my mom today. I have realized that I haven’t told “Thank You” to her in a very very long time. It’s sad how I say thanks to an outsider/stranger just to be nice and how I take my mother for granted every single day. Felt really good to thank my mother and appreciate for what she has been doing every day.” Volunteer, AFS India

Student of Choithram School North Campus, Indore helping in filling the application form

“I had so much fun being part of this year GYSD activity. Small yet meaningful activities. We should do it throughout the year, not just once. Thanks, AFS India!”  Volunteer, AFS India

AFS India Volunteer sharing cooked meals with others

“The personal message which we learnt is “ KINDNESS WHEN GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND”. A small activity like picking up garbage and putting it in dustbin added to our civil ethics often ignored by us many a times. Thank you AFS for giving an opportunity to connect with lot of people through love, kindness and bonding. It was indeed a worthy emulating session.” School

Students of Gyan Ganga International School, Jabalpur performed dance to entertain the students of nearby government school

“On my birthday last year, my office colleagues bought me a potted plant. The plant turned out to be a Nyctanthes arbor-tristis or a Parijat. I love that tree. In Kolkata, they grow everywhere and are a herald of autumn. The Durga Puja festivities all over will have platters in front of the idols, brimful with the bejeweled and star-like fragrant flowers of these trees. So, I have been taking diligent care of this plant of mine and now it is four feet high. By the time it is autumn again, I will have the flowers of this beautiful tree adorn my balcony. The joy to see this plant grow with dark green leaves and to imagine them in bloom is simply inexplicable.” Volunteer, AFS India

AFS India Volunteer teaching village ladies how to use laptop with giving basics of computer science

“All these acts of kindness made the students realize that giving brings closer to create a better world. These significant efforts enabled them to learn more efficiently and effectively for the betterment of the marginalized, they learnt how to be courteous and humble. Above all, they experienced the power of generosity, sharing and caring” School

“I taught my grandfather how to listen to music on his phone. It’s nice to see how excited he gets when he listens to Mukesh ji’s songs. Then I realized that he probably gets this happy because he doesn’t have a radio to listen to songs anymore and not many TV channels play the songs he wants to listen to.” Volunteer, AFS India

“Thank you for the activities. I really enjoyed doing it. It gave small lessons of life. It was fun to make cards and they all loved it a lot.” Participating Student

“We also donated clothes to needy people. We have a wall in our city which translates “Wall for kindness”. It says if you have extra then give it away and if you need it then take it. It was fun doing all these activities and I felt good while doing it. Thank you.” Volunteer, AFS India

“I think that this year’s Global Youth Service Day project activities are not just a one-day thing, it’s a lifelong activity.” Volunteer, AFS India

“I made Jalebi at my home and distributed in my city. It was a real happy moment for me. Also, I received so many blessings from people. It felt so peaceful.” Volunteer, AFS India

“Living in area like Mhow known as Military Headquarters of War, we come across many soldiers and officials. I was very happy when I came to know that we are granted permission to visit infantry museum. As part of the GYSD activity, we chose to go to a place where we haven’t been before. It was indeed an enriching experience for me. I learnt more about the different battle fought and was really proud to know the various past of Indian army and Infantry in particular. I discovered that the life of a soldier is not easy as we think. They have no comforts and they learn to live without luxuries of life. There are no obstacles for them.”  Participating Student

“I was on the metro and Bangalore metro usually gets very crowded at certain stops. I got a seat but gave it to a middle-aged man after he got on. I was traveling to the last stop and so was he. I was standing next to his seat. As soon as the seat next to him got vacated, he offered me to sit. Even though it was the second last stop, I appreciated his offer!” Participating Student

“Because of GYSD, I have kept the habit of walking and I walk or cycle all the distances which are nearby.” Volunteer, AFS India

“It was interesting to put into words everyday activities that are small steps that go unrecognised. It was also nice to see that a lot of the things mentioned in the list were done by me and a lot of people in everyday life without a second thought. It was also nice to be reminded that those easily forgotten steps, if done perfectly, do make a big difference.” Volunteer, AFS India