Posts tagged efforts

Donate a school kit to a needy child!

The School Kit Donation Drive is an interesting and innovative initiative by the people at Seva Sahayog, an NGO based in Mumbai and Pune. Many NGOs are small in size and do not have sufficient manpower or experience in fundraising. However, they do really important work, which, if it becomes more well-known, can surely attract funding from big donors. Seva Sahayog works towards connecting such smaller NGOs to corporate institutions of similar interests. Beneficiaries of Seva Sahayog’s activities include NGOs like Bhatke Vimukta Vikas Pratishthan, which is working for development of nomadic tribes in interior Maharashtra and Chaitanya Mahila Mandal, which is working for bettering the lives of sex workers in Pune.

One of Seva Sahayog’s biggest initiative is the School Kit Donation Drive. In India, almost 300 million people live on <$1/day. The density of the poor is higher in bigger cities due to the massive amount of poor, migrant labor, much of which lives in slums and poorly managed neighborhoods. Children who live in such neighborhoods rarely get access to education. One of the frequent complaints is that, despite all the government subsidies, education is too expensive. Buying uniforms, buying school books, investing time towards studies, lack of a quiet place for studying are all barriers that children from slums face. It is not surprising then, that the drop out rate in primary schools in India is 20%. 1 in 5 children just cannot afford even primary level education!

There are several NGOs working towards tacking these problems. For example, Swaroop Wardinee is an NGO based in Pune working towards identifying talent in slums. There are NGOs based in Mumbai working towards educating children who live on railway platforms and bus stations. Astitva Pratishthan, for example, runs educational programs for children of laborers who work in Sugarcane plantations in Marathwada district of Maharashtra.

Since 2008, Seva Sahayog started this initiative of distribution of school kits to children targeted by such institutions. Each school kit includes a school bag, some notebooks, a geometry compass and a drawing book. Volunteers of Seva Sahayog approach various corporate bodies as well as collect donations from individuals. Only 250 rupees can give one needy child a school kit and ensure his education for one more year. In 2011, more than 25,000 school kits were donated to children in Mumbai and Pune.

All of you reading this post have been fortunate enough to be educated. We understand the value of education and its importance not only in our own personal development but also in the development of our country. I hope you will click the link below and donate as much as you can towards making this initiative successful and helping it reach out to more children.

Please click here for donation details.



Environmental storytelling

Ecology for Children – an experiment in environmental storytelling

India has a rich cultural tradition extending back over three millenia. Given the multitude of species found in the nook and corners of the country, the Indian cultural tradition has a heavy dose of biodiversity deeply embedded in it. Examples of such associations abound – from Lord Ganesha having a mouse as his vehicle to basil being worshipped as Goddess Tulsi. Such stories are being forgotten and lost in the fast-paced world of today. The problem is more acute for the tablet-totting, television-hooked generation of today. Question is, in what way can we effectively deliver these stories to the children of today?

Environmental storytelling (Reproduced with permission from Muriel Kakani)

Muriel Kakani, a Belgian national living in India for the past 20 years, has been trying to do just that through her website Ecology for Childrenand a number of children’s books she has written. Muriel believes that the Indian lifestyle and cultural traditions are most well suited for environmental conservation. From maintaining agricultural biodiversity in fields through traditional farming methods to protecting trees by setting aside sacred trees and groves, Indians have been engaging in eco-friendly practices for the past several thousand years. Muriel tries to tell such stories through her books geared towards children.

Reproduced with permission from Muriel Kakani

In one of her stories, the The Honey Gatherers of Sunderbans, Muriel teaches the value of respecting Mother Nature while taking benefits from her. The story, told rather succinctly and in an engrossing manner, explains the pitfalls of exploiting Mother Nature while forgetting the need to do our bit towards its protection. Even though the story is told in a manner understandable to children, such stories hold valuable lessons for even the adults of today.

Muriel says on her website that “Love and empathic feelings are the greatest stimulant to the will…Feelings are more important than facts when talking about saving the Earth, preserving the environment and ecology.” I whole-heartedly agree with that approach. I also believe that feelings, coupled with knowledge, can be the most potent agent for change in this world!

For more information about Muriel’s work, check out the website and her project Ecology for Children.

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