Combining the best of both worlds
making the business of volunteering work
Basia Ryl, Global Brand Manager for Sunlight, took her passion for volunteering to Unilever, she found fertile ground to make a difference on a large scale.
“I’m a passionate volunteer,” says Basia “it brings me happiness. Not only are you helping others, but you’re also making yourself happy.”
Basia cut her teeth in international development as a student conducting field research for her dissertation in India. Disillusioned by the inefficacy of the small NGO she encountered, she began looking elsewhere to make a difference. The opportunity to professionalise her skills came when Unilever made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. “My perfect picture disappeared and I was slightly disappointed and at that moment I got an email from Unilever asking if I’d like to come for an interview,” recalls Basia.
Here she found the time and space to balance her day job as a project manager, with her continued commitment to helping others.
Well known at the organisation for her social justice work, Basia was the perfect candidate when a need arose for additional support in one of Unilever’s water sustainability initiatives. This led to her return to India in 2013. However this time she came back as a professional and as an ambassador for Signal, a Unilever-supported children’s health education campaign in rural India.
With up to 95% of India’s rural population suffering from gum disease, dental hygiene education was the aim of Basia and her team’s trip. Together, they used songs and dances to teach local children how to care for their teeth and offered entire villages the opportunity to get a free check up with a team of volunteer dentists.
Basia’s story as an agent of change has come full circle “I believe that everybody can contribute and if everyone does one small thing then that will definitely help”.