By Deepa Suryanarayan
"Let's go to an old age home next weekend," writes Akshay Shah in an e-mail to his network of friends. Not the typical weekend plan of a 22-year-old? But, this group of twenty-somethings is not ordinary, and so are their plans.
Although, the internet is the preferred tool of communication for Shah's network of around 30-odd IT professionals from various investment banks across the city, unlike Orkut or Facebook, their network -- Umang -- aims exclusively to help the under privileged in the society.
"Umang aims at one activity every week, be it spending time at a home for the aged or teaching street kids or holding blood donation camps," says Ashish Goyal, 24, an investment banker.
"All of us wanted to do something for the society, be it for the aged or the children. That is when we came up with Umang," Goyal said.
All volunteers with Umang have weekends off. "In the first week of July, we donated books and clothes to Takshashila Vidhyalaya at Ulhasnagar, while in the second week we collected 150 bottles of blood at a blood donation drive at TCS Campus, Kanjurmarg," said Shah, an IT professional and one of the founders of Umang.
"Last Sunday, we visited Justice HK Chainani's Elders Home in Mulund. We had great fun with the aged at home," said Shah. Sometimes, investing just little time is more than enough, said Hema Parmanandani, 28, a finance consultant. "Umang is open to anyone who has the best interests of the society at heart," she said.
Over the next few weekends, Umang will organise blood donation camps, find sponsors for educating the gifted poor children, and conduct awareness and education programmes to help clean the city.