Between Starving Children and Thriving Children, There’s Rajeev.
“Not everyone can help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
He’s passionate about feeding the hungry, his dream is to create a home for the homeless, and he works here at Cisco.
Meet Rajeev Kumar.
Rajeev has been involved in volunteering for more than 30 years, founding two nonprofit organizations — his first one when he was only 16 years old — that help relieve hunger for children in slums and people living on the streets in India.
When historic floods ravaged his native Kerala last year, he rescued stranded victims, then organized hundreds of people to provide relief.
Rajeev is a shining example of someone who truly knows what it means to Be the Bridge. We asked him about his time at Cisco and what volunteering means to him.
If you could volunteer full time, what would you do?
My dream is to start a home for the homeless. I would like to bring the sick, the elderly, and begging kids to care for them, feed them, and give them shelter. I want to teach them skills so that they don’t have to be on the street at someone else’s mercy.
I would also like to start a school to educate young girls, give them a secure life, and help them become self-reliant and strong.
Many times I feel like I was born just to do this. And I am sure I will make my dream come true.
How did you end up at Cisco?
I lived in Mumbai for 24 years and never thought I would leave the city. I’d be leaving my social and charitable life there.
However, when my friend Ankur Bhargava, who was my colleague at a previous company, joined Cisco before me, he referred my name for an opportunity.
I did not think twice about joining Cisco. I moved from Mumbai to take this job in 2014.
Who has had the most influence on you and your life?
My father is my role model. Another is my wife. She influences me to do more without looking back.
What makes you passionate about helping to solve hunger vs. another area?
I believe “Not everyone can help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
Many organizations work in the education sector and other areas, but hunger is helplessness. You can’t function on a starving stomach.
The sparkle in little children’s eyes when they get a stomach full of nutritious food — consistent meals are a distant dream for them — that keeps me going.
At the end of the day, I sleep peacefully. This world gave so much to me, and I always wanted to give back something that is in my capacity to do.
How has giving back impacted your career?
It relaxes me. It gives me energy. It gives me a clean and happy mind. This is exactly what’s needed in a professional career. This makes me grow.
We know many people want to volunteer but just can’t seem to get started. What advice do you have for them?
My country is a developing country and there are many still under the poverty line. And I believe hunger is the worst feeling ever.
In India, we have limited options when we talk about clocking in volunteering hours.
(Editor’s note: To find organizations in India that qualify for Cisco Foundation matching, see this list in Bright Funds.)
But you don’t need to start big. Do only as much as you can. You don’t need an organization to volunteer or do some charity.
Just start by giving a pack of biscuits or bread to someone who is starving or in need. Look at their happiness. Look at how grateful they are to you. Keep some food and water with you always. Just pass it on to someone who is in need. That’s a start.
I am sure the next day you will carry double the amount of food you carried the day before. And you will start to find ways and means to continue the same moving forward.
If you can feed just one starving person a day, that’s a great achievement. That’s a good start. And it’s definitely a motivation for others.
Tune in next month when we’ll share another story about amazing people who Be the Bridge at Cisco.