My first experience with art and design as a form of community service arose when I spent a summer teaching art at a school for underprivileged children in India. On my first visit to the school, I was overwhelmed by the warmth and enthusiasm that was shown to me. Walking around campus, I would be stopped repeatedly by students so that they could say good morning or shake hands.
That was only the first of the ways these children surprised me. They were so motivated, so talented and all they lacked was opportunity –but they were determined not to let that get in their way. I listened to their stories, learnt about their families, and we painted together. Beautiful colours, shapes and patterns came to life on canvas; their imaginations had certainly not lost out due to the circumstances they were born into. I may not have taught them anything fantastic –I think I learnt more from them and their lives than they did from me–but I hope that they enjoyed those lessons we had together, that they felt the liberating feeling that I feel when I paint. I ended my summer there amazed and wanting to do more.
I then collaborated with the administration of the school to help them raise funds to send their graduating batch of students to college that year. My sister, a marketing specialist, worked with them to create a strategy on how we could help, and ultimately I designed simple electronic direct mailers as well as posters for social media to spread the word about the cause. We were able to raise $10,000 within a week.
This experience not only showed me how lucky I am to have what I have, it also taught me that the skills that I have as a graphic designer can be used to make a difference. Charities and schools such as this may not consider it a priority to hire a designer – but they can certainly benefit from good design. A cleaner, more user friendly website can help potential donors and volunteers to learn more about them rather than putting them off because they can’t find the information that they are looking for. Whether a business or a charity, a well-designed logo forms the foundation for the identity of the organisation, making it unique and memorable. Paying attention to such things can make an organisation stand out amongst the sea of causes seeking contributions, and they ultimately determine the perception of the brand amongst the target audience. Here at Priority we try to do our part through our work with the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP).
Design is only one example of how we can help those in need. Contributions to a charity need not only be monetary – your time and skills are important. Find a way to apply yourself to helping a good cause. It will certainly be a rewarding experience.