From MTV Roadies contestant to founder of Camp Diaries, Milind Chandwani is a man full of courage and dreams. The 28-year-old techie-turned-social activist dreams of reaching out to every child in the country to educate and empower them.
Born in a middle class family, Milind completed his engineering and worked in Infosys and other companies for about three years. Dissatisfied, the feeling of something being incomplete annoyed him. He then set out to explore various forms of art, but nothing could please him. Then, he started volunteering for Make a Difference. What started off as a one-day thing ended up being a whole week event.
Even though he got into IIM, he secretly wished to choose a different path. He followed his passion by applying for a Teach for India fellowship. Problem solving, street plays to creating awareness on issues like drug abuse and alcoholism were part of his job.
After acknowledging his desire, it was a variety of things which led to the foundation of Camp Diaries, an NGO that works towards empowering and shaping lives of children from government schools. It aims to involve children in extra-curricular activities. “We offer activities like dancing, singing, public speaking, science experiments, drama, beat box, coding…the list is endless.
After they’re exposed to every activity, we let them pick two activities and nurture them in that area and help them take it up as a career. Our only motive is to make them independent learners, to give them access to content and help them in every way possible,” says Milind.
Stint as a principal
“I always dreamt of running my own school, so I started off working as a principal at a school in Pune. From constructing the school building to training the teachers, I had to take care of everything. I would give 18 hours of my day to the school. It was a very challenging role all together,” says Milind.
Exposing the kids to all kinds of activities that involve brain games, painting, and learning music really helps them learn and plan out their future. What started off as a small team of volunteers is now reaching out to four cities including Bengaluru, Chennai and Ahmedabad with over 12,000 new applications for volunteering on the go.
Roadies, Zee Heroes journey
“When I got a call from MTV Roadies, I was perplexed as to what a social worker would do there. But, it helped me expand my NGO; creating awareness through national TV was a huge deal. And then Zee Heroes happened. It was a moment of victory for me when I chose not to give up after hurting myself. I want to be an inspiration to all my children. We are also planning to expand Camp Diaries to 18 more cities by the end of the year,” says the 28-year-old social activist.
Check out his work on the Instagram handle @campdiaries and @milindchandwani