From Battling Depression to Mentoring 60,000 Students, This 27-Year-Old From Maharashtra Is Transforming Lives!
Even the darkest of tunnels lead to the warmth and strength of the sunlight. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren't for the dark tunnels in my life, and I am only grateful for them!
I am Saurabh Suresh Bhosale, a 27-year-old with a dream to spread compassion and inclusiveness around the world. I was born and brought up in Koregaon, a semi-urban city in Satara District, where I completed my primary and secondary education. Growing up, I was the most sociable kid around, and I loved making friends and meeting new people. I found joy in company. When you are in a group of people, you come across different personalities. Some are social butterflies like me, some are not, and then there are the invisible ones who are often disregarded. Since I was such an empath, it really bothered me to see someone feeling left out and helpless, be it financially, mentally, or socially. I could empathize with how they felt and wanted to make it better. This was one of my initial motivations to change something for the ones who didn’t feel like they fit in.
I always felt that the world needs a reminder of compassion and of what we stand for as humans, but I never thought there would come a time when I would be doing this with 200+ people by my side.
An incident that changed my life
A series of incidents changed my life when I was in college. I lost three of my dearest friends in a span of months, in three separate car accidents! At an age so young, you don’t think to prepare yourself for grief. You never imagine losing someone you love dearly, but here I was trying to wrap my head around it. The incident shook me to my core, and I was struck with grief. It felt surreal. Not very long ago, my friends were here with me, laughing and chatting, and now they weren’t. Accepting the fact that I was never going to see them again made the amount of grief feel insurmountable.
I dropped out of engineering that same year. Life didn’t feel the same after that and I could feel it all crumbling around me. Things that made me happy no longer did and I battled with severe depression for 6 months. Nothing made sense to me more than books. We really underestimate the kind of impact a book can have on us. They became my best friends, and I ended up reading 108 books. Each of them was like going through layers of epiphany. It was exactly what I needed to get back up, and those books were what made me who I am today. Coping with the loss of my three best friends made me want to choose a different path entirely. And I leaned towards social work, because part of me wanted to help others, but I knew it would heal me too.
I started Project Visioncy, which was initially called ‘Visioncy’, back in 2018 on November 20th. I started with a simple motive to try and make this world a better place for everyone and to uplift the rural and the semi-urban parts of Maharashtra. We initially started working on soft skills development, mental health awareness via sessions and workshops, and social work. Our initiatives included everything ranging from environment-related activities like clean-up drives, free educational workshops for students, and life coaching workshops. As we amplified our scope of work, we received appreciation from people, and institutions started recognizing us. In the very year of Project Visioncy’s launch, we were awarded with the Me Padvidhar Satara’s Social Media Influencer Award, 2018 and that only made our will stronger.
We also extended our horizons in various education-related sectors and started working with schools, colleges, and universities. In 2019, we were awarded the National Motivational Speaker Award by the English Educators Society. Till date, we have signed 83 MOUs with 53 schools, colleges and institutes for sessions and workshops on soft skills. I was also honoured to get an opportunity to represent India at the World Youth Summit by IYC, 2019. From 2018 to 2022, I delivered over 600+ sessions, met 60000+ students in person, and led 400+ workshops in educational institutes, both online and offline.
In 2020, when the pandemic made it difficult for us to be able to conduct various activities simultaneously, we decided to take tiny steps and cater to one initiative at a time. That’s when we came up with the 52-week 52-initiatives challenge, where we completed 1 challenge and 1 initiative in 1 week, for the whole year of 52 weeks. Each week was taken as a new challenge for social development, personality development, and skill enhancement. 2020 was also the year we made our platform open to everyone, and we are now a family of 200+ members across 25 districts in Maharashtra and in Karnataka aged between 16 and 28. We believe if the youth of a nation join hands for social good, we can achieve every aimed target. Another highlight of the year was our win of the Paris Sparsh Youth Icon Award, 2020.
Today, I am Public Speaker, the author of ‘The 21: A Companion To Be A Better Version Of Yourself & RISE’, a book that was published in December 2020. We have over 70 trained public speakers and 65 authors in the Project Visioncy family. In 2021, Project Visioncy published India’s first quote book with 65 young authors. Also, one of our milestones is that we conducted Maharashtra’s first independently organized Youth Summit with 150+ participants from 14 districts of Maharashtra.
Since our inception, we have been able to conduct 20+ food drives, the most recent one being the Independence Day food donation drive in collaboration with the Robin Hood Army and Swechhandi, Satara. 40+ Cleaning Drives with organizations like Pune Ploggers and Swechhandi, where we have seen a participation of 80+ ploggers in a single drive. 8+ educational material distribution drives, 5 plantation drives, including the one we recently conducted on account of Rakshabandhan, and 3 flood-affected area relief drives.
Project Visioncy Summer Camp 2022 was the highlight of our recent activities where we had 180+ participants from 12 districts of Maharashtra participate to enhance their holistic development. The camp is designed to engage participants in various activities that focus on time management, public speaking, effortless communication, personality development, and even their spiritual self, through meditation sessions. The event Sigma Marathi, which is a talent and award show, achieved commendable success because of the 700+ Satarakars who came in as an audience to support the artists from Satara.
Why should you give?
If there is something I am grateful for, it’s for the ability to give back to the society that nurtured me and my family for making me kind and humble. If you are looking for a reason why you should give to the community at all, it is because you can only rise by lifting others. A community rises together, and as much time as you spend helping others, life finds a way to circle it all back to you.
I remember two students had made an assignment on Project Visioncy and took me as their idol for their presentation in college, and I was so thrilled to see that. Things like this keep you going even when things seem difficult. The biggest credit for the success goes to my Project Visioncy family, for being the best mentees and torch bearers of our work. It is because of their tireless efforts that we can touch people’s lives.
Throughout my time from 2018 to 2022, I have won significant awards that honour our work and effort, and that shows us that people do care about making change. It is upon us to create a better world for ourselves and leave behind an improved version for future generations to come. People will doubt your intentions and won’t understand why you do what you do, but by continuing to work for your motives, it not only proves them wrong but also encourages many like you to come forth and do their part without a worry in this world.
Exclusively written for Giving for Good Foundation by Bhairavi Hiremath