With Volunteers Week taking place this week, we wanted to take the chance to say thank you to all those amazing volunteers in the UK who devote their time to charities all over the world. 

We are grateful to every one of our volunteers, it is with their support that more mothers can remain with their children, staying in The Sreepur Village, a safe and secure place they can call home. It is in this village in rural Bangladesh that impoverished women and their vulnerable children are fed nutritious food, given 24/7 care and taught a multitude of life-saving skills. Often taken for granted by others, for families living in The Sreepur Village, these skills will empower them to independence and bring them the hope they once thought they never would have.

The Sreepur Village: Interview to mark Volunteers' Week

To mark this year’s Volunteers Week, we interviewed Rushna Master, a long-term supporter of The Sreepur Village, Bangladesh:

You have been supporting The Sreepur Village since its onset, what made you choose this charity?

I worked for British Airways for 20 years and the Dhaka Orphanage was one of our four main Charities. I’d wanted to raise funds for charities that helped women and children and as the Orphanage was in Bangladesh and I was born in Calcutta, I felt an affinity to it and decided to help raise funds for these most vulnerable women and children.  Just to say I also raised funds for Operation Happy Child which was another of BA’s charities but based in the UK.    

Have you ever visited the project in Bangladesh?

Yes, I have visited on two occasions and absolutely loved it!  Sreepur Village is such an inspirational place filled with love, compassion and joy!   

If you could describe The Sreepur Village in three words, what would you say?

Hope-filled and life-changing.

Over the last 30 years, you have held many fundraising events, which do you think has been the most successful in helping to raise funds and awareness for such a small charity?

It is very hard to choose one event but if I had to mention one it would be the 5th Anniversary Gala at the Runnymede Hotel.

Also, I feel I should mention when we were lucky enough to be chosen by the Mayor of Croydon as one of his two Charities for the Year. This gave us an amazingly high profile whilst raising a great deal of money. 

Small charities often get un-noticed but with volunteers, like yourself, organising events not only helps to raise funds but also awareness. How would you encourage others to get involved with fundraising for The Sreepur Village?

I think one has to have a deep passion to do anything and this is what motivates and drives me to do what I do.  All I hope is that others are inspired and want to get involved in the wonders of Sreepur.

This June, in line with Volunteers Week, you are taking part in a rather challenging Boat Race called The Vogalonga, can you tell us more about this? Rushna’s 33km for 30 Remarkable Years

I’ll be raising funds for the Sreepur Village because I want to honour and celebrate 30 Remarkable years!

Some of our friends have asked me what the Vogalonga is and why I decided to try Dragon Boating?  So, I thought I’d just give you a little background!

The Vogalonga takes place in Venice on Sunday 9th June 2019.  I am part of a 20-person paddling crew plus a helm and drummer!  The Race is 33km, but we’ve been informed that it’s an additional 6km to the start point and then 6km to return – so the 33km will be more like 45km!!

The Sreepur Village: Interview to mark Volunteers' Week

I started paddling on Saturday 16th February this year. We train at the Hurricanes Dragon Boat Club in Wraysbury. Training takes place on Saturday mornings at 9.45am for 10am and Monday/Thursday evenings at 6.30pm for 7pm.

Coincidently, the Hurricanes train at the Silver Wing Lake which is also used by the British Airways Sailing Club, so for me, it was a lovely surprise to meet some ex-BA staff members and it’s been a very nostalgic and heart-warming experience becoming a member of the Hurricanes and I feel like I’ve come home.

Training is hard but good! Our coaches, some of whom have been/are part of the GB team, are great and we have lots of fun!

On Sunday 14th April, I drummed for the first time in 5 races as part of the Hurricanes team in Worcester – the first race was absolutely terrifying but exhilarating at the same time!! We took part in 3x200m and then went on to win our 200m final! We also entered the 1800m by which time my drumming had slightly improved! All in all, it was a good day!

So hopefully you can see that taking part in the Vogalonga this year will be a real ‘Challenge’ for me having never paddled before nor previously undertaken such a long distance! Also, as a team, we’ve never paddled 33km before, so it’s going to be really tough and a real challenge for all of us.

I decided to raise sponsorship for the Sreepur Village to honour and celebrate this magnificent and momentous achievement and thought it was rather fitting that we’d be paddling 33km for ’30 Remarkable Years’.

I just hope that I can complete the Race and raise lots of money and awareness for a Charity that is very close to my heart!

I became involved in fundraising for the Sreepur Village in 1992 whilst working for British Airways. I visited the Village on two occasions and although I no longer work for BA my husband Phiroze and I continue to support the Project.

The Sreepur Village: Interview to mark Volunteers' Week
30th Anniversary

Sreepur is Celebrating 30 Remarkable Years and we feel privileged and humbled to have been a part of this extraordinary journey.

I hope you will join Phiroze and I in our Celebratory Quest to help raise much-needed funds to continue the work that makes such a difference to these most vulnerable women and children.

We’d very much like to thank you, in great anticipation, for any help you can give by sharing this page and spreading the word to your family, friends and colleagues.

I know, together we can and will make a difference as every penny you donate will go directly to the Charity.

How much are you hoping to raise for The Sreepur Village?

My Just Giving Page target is £13,331 and I’m hoping that this will be the beginning of an on-going fundraising and awareness campaign.

30 years ago, The Sreepur Village opened its doors so that impoverished women and their vulnerable children could stay together and be cared for, learning new skills in a safe and secure environment, where would you like to see the charity in the next 30 years?    

Firstly, I’d like to see Sreepur Village continue to grow and flourish giving even more women and children a safe, loving environment where they learn new skills that enable them to start their new lives and fulfil their hopes and dreams. 

Secondly, to see the Street Children’s Night Shelter Project develop so that even more children can be taken off the streets and given a chance to turn their lives around.

If you would like to support Rushna in the Vogalonga this June, then please visit her Just Giving Page here.