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Yesterday, I was watching Support My School campaign on NDTV. And more than the dance and drama, the talks and the celeb jigs (they are important too), it was the stories of children, teachers and schools that leap out. Oh yes, we are aware of how difficult things are in smaller towns and villages – the state of the schools if they exist, infrastructure, teaching and the quality of learning. Yet, when you see individual stories, it hits you in another way.

What so many of us take for granted with our private schools is pipe dream for these young kids whose parents are too poor for them to even send them to schools.  It is not as if the private schools are without their problems, but we can’t begin to think what the problems are for government schools. Education is what makes a difference in your life. But the education some of these kids get is a mockery of learning. A Pratham study of 2009 states “Nearly 65% of class V students in rural areas of Tamil Nadu can’t read even a class II textbook in their mother tongue, 45% don’t know subtraction and nearly 81% can’t read simple English sentences.”

And the story is no better in other states. This when we take a lot of pride in Indian education system because Indians are appreciated all over the world for their knowledge and prowess. Go to Pratham.org for more reports and surveys about Indian education.

When you see twinkling eyes that thirst for reading and learning being devoid of that opportunity, it moves your heart. If only we could help!

Yes, I contributed to the cause. I know it is a small step. I want to do much more.  But, at least let us take an initial step. Given the constraints that my own life puts on me, I feel that such initiatives give an opportunity for all of us to contribute in a small way to bring about social change. Yes, we can be cynical but does that help anyone? We all demand change? But, who will bring about the change? Can we conveniently look at the government, the NGOs, Corporates and celebrities and wash our hands of all social responsibility? No, we cannot and we must not.

There are many ways in which each of us can do our little bit. We begin by starting at home – treating our helpers with respect, paying them fairly and helping out in their own lives. Can we help in educating one kid or at least contribute in the education of our maid’s children? Some of us can help with teaching poor kids over the weekend if we have the time or the inclination. Some others can volunteer in other ways. And, we can support causes that are close to our hearts. If nothing else, we can loosen our purse strings a bit. It does not take much. We often blow up more on clothes or an outing in a fancy restaurant but when it comes to giving for good causes we become miserly. It is a question of opening our hearts and taking responsibility for helping out the not so fortunate among us. Instead of putting money in a temple hundi, please feed a poor child or contribute to his/her health or education. It will be money well spent.

Here are some important statistics:

“The India Giving report – the largest survey ever undertaken into giving in a single country found that most people in India – 84% of the 836 million adults – give at least once a year. Within this figure, 71% gave solely or partly for religious reasons, but by contrast, only 12% had given for reasons not linked to religion.” We need to think about this. If there is a God, He/She resides in each one of us. Help us redeem that God in our children!

The Support My School campaign helps in bettering the infrastructure in government school in small towns and villages of India. They help build separate toilets for girls and boys, and provide clean drinking water, playground, libraries etc. You can donate by going here:

http://www.ndtv.com/micro/supportmyschool

Other charities close to my heart are:

Akshay Patra Foundation: They help in providing fresh hot mid-day meals to children in government schools across India. This initiative has single handedly kept many kids in school because for some of them, this is the only nutritious meal that they get in a day. And, no one can learn on an empty stomach. This initiative also hopes to address malnutrition that India battles on a huge level. I wrote about Akshay Patra earlier. Here is the link to my previous post.

Light a Million Lives – Teri: This campaign aims at lighting up the darkest of Indian villages by providing solar lanterns. This is again a cause close to my heart and I have been supporting them.

Whatever be the cause you support, do something in your own small way to make a difference. Begin small. Take a baby step. Do whatever you can afford to do but do make an effort.

Update: Since many commenters have expressed a valid concern about the credibility of NGOs and how funds will be utilized, I feel it is best that one does a bit of research and checks the credentials and track record of the said NGO. One also must keep track of how they utilize the funds as well as ask for periodic updates. We must check their websites and get more information about funds utilization. The point of my post is not to peddle any cause. I just shared what I have been supporting but most importantly, I hope that each one of us recognizes the importance of giving. Giving in any form is beneficial both to the giver and the society.

Reference Links:

http://www.cafindia.org/pages/cafindia_media.htm

http://www.pratham.org/NewsDetails.aspx?newsID=118

PS: This is NOT a paid post. All the views and opinions stem from my heart. And I am not looking to make any money out of endorsing names.

 

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53 Thoughts on “Give and let live!

  1. At work, will revisit later 🙂 Good day 🙂

  2. Saw the ndtv show with Sachin and Ash yesterday. Need more such positive initiatives.Especially in the field of education. Akshay parra is a laudable initiative indeed.

    • I agree, Alka. At least the celebrities get the eyeballs and the mobilization. And, we need to keep these initiatives going if we want real changes to happen in a large and badly governed country like ours. Akshay Patra is a great initiative. I have been supporting it for many years. And I feel these are the right approaches to sustained schooling of children. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Typo…meant Patra.

  4. We all contribute to various organisation in our own small way, and we have to believe that it is reaching as many children as possible.
    “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” Marian Wright Edelman
    Yes, we are but one drop of water in an ocean, but even one drop makes a ripple, and we have to imagine many such drops eventually creating the big ripple that is needed.

  5. True. We must do our part. Educating children is the best gift we can give them. It can change lives like nothing else can. Akshaya Paatra , I support too. Small steps will make a difference in the end. After all oceans are made of drops. Good encouraging post Rachna.

    • Thank you so much, Jyothi! I feel that if each of us can begin small, a lot of resources can be mobilized. If we don’t have the time, at least we can support causes or people. Let us try and do something. Thank you so much for connecting with the post.

  6. what prevents me from offering money to foundations is the apprehension as to whether the amount will be put to good use .. can we be promised that ? curious to know . But yes the one thing that can be done is helping the maid eduate her kid . . kudos to you for writing this post 🙂

    • I agree Maliny. I have burnt my fingers too. I remember contributing money for Karnataka flood victims. but later reports said that most of the funds were misused. That hurts hard. What I normally do is that I keep following up the initiatives I support through their websites. Responsible NGOs keep updating about how the money is getting spent. You can join their FB pages and even directly write to them if you wish to know more. Akshay Patra is based out of Bangalore in the Iskcon temple. One can always visit and speak to folks there to judge. There has been a case study on them at Harvard http://www.akshayapatra.org/Harvard-Business-School-Case-Study

      I understand your apprehension but don’t close your heart. If something appeals to you, go for it. It could be a neighborhood orphanage or your maid’s child. In some way, all of us can do our bit. We just have to find that space in our heart and figure out what suits us.

      Thanks you so much for connecting with the post.

  7. A post close to my heart. I’ve seen the clipping of Sachin going to schools…I felt happy..he is trying to do something…thx for sharing the links, Rachna. Will do my bit…I know one of them, but the rest I don’t..will look into them

    • Thank you Latha! So glad that you could connect with the post. Sachin helped to bring more people on board and to popularize the cause. I am grateful to celebrities for doing that. But, it has to be people like all of us who take things forward in whatever way we deem suitable.

  8. The Pratham report deals interalia with the poor quality of education in government and municipal sector where the emphaisis is number admitted than the outcome.The origin of the problem lies in the recruitment of poor quality of teachers,lack of training for them and a syllabus that does not lay stress on the wards understanding the concepts.
    The other aspect is lack of infrastructure,reading materials, basic facilities,teaching materials and quality
    mid day meals.
    While giving to such organisations you have indicated would be laudable,I believe if each family takes care of the education of one or more children of domestic helps or poor people it would over a period of time bring about a big and welcome change
    A brilliant article,well researched as always.

    • KP Sir, you have rightly pointed out that the issues are many and demanding when it comes to education. I agree that one may choose the method they like whether it is by financing one child’s education or something else. But, if each one of us decides to do this, we can actually see a real change happen. I hope that we actually take a little time out to think over this and do something.

  9. Thanks for the links, Rachna. We support small causes ourselves too and even when we donate to a temple, it is stipulated for the education of the pujari’s kids or to buy books etc. After all, they are also employees and need help. you are so right about us blowing up money on eating out or movies and stint when it comes to helping a good cause. However, with unscrupulous NGOs on the rise, one has to be careful in supporting them. It is best to donate to the ones where we know the people involved, or as you say, help the kids of your maid or the others who work for you.

    • absolutely true, Zephyr! I actually updated the post to say that NGOs must be thoroughly scrutinized before one supports them. And one must follow up as well. My whole point is that distrust of NGOs must not become a reason to hold back in giving. Whatever cause in whichever way, there is something that each one of us can do if we put our heart and mind into it. It does not take much, just a kind thought and the acceptance of the fact that we have a social responsibility to others less fortunate than ours.

  10. Rachna,

    You are right. One small step by each of us can result in giant leap for betterment of society. Education is the primary need for society to be open minded and progressive. One can always keep tabs on how the help sent is being utilized. Hope this post encourages all of us to contribute whatever we can for change we wish to see in the society.

    Take care

  11. Nice post, we should check the background of the NGO who we are donating our money. We generally donate to a local blind school more in kind than cash.

  12. Rachna,
    I have never given money to NGOs because I have heard tales of money being misused. It is a pitiable situation when you want to help but and stopped from doing so because of a corrupt medium. I agree all of them are not bad and we have to rely on people whom we know very well for a feedback. So, this is a very relevant post.

  13. You have touched an important point. Well, one easy method of promoting education is by providing scholarships in Schools and Colleges to students rather than giving out to any organization.

  14. Rachna,good post.The standard of education in Govt schools is no doubt deplorable but i don’t understand the rationale behind not failing any student in middle or i am not sure up to which class.Naturally such standards will accrue
    .
    About charity,i only give where i can see how my donation is being used.I have told all my maids till date to send their kids for help in studies but not a single response!Then i tried to gather laborers’s kids to teach them some basics about hygiene etc,but again zilch.The priorities of their parents are different.

    • Really Indu? I have been helping out my maid’s son, and at least here in bangalore, most maids slog hard to put their children in English medium private schools that they can ill afford. They are actually quite grateful for any help that they can get. I am sure you can find some other way to give.

      Yes, the system of no retention is completely messed up. In CBSE, it is till class 8 that no one is detained.

  15. “When you see twinkling eyes that thirst for reading and learning being devoid of that opportunity, it moves your heart.” So very true!! Will take a close look at these. I’m actually contributing to the education of the children of the guy who works at my parents’ house. At least, I can see the results in front of me!

    • And that is wonderful, Roshni. My mil did the same. She contributed to the education of her maid’s kids. My husband also believes in the same that helping out poor relatives with education or the children of one of our helpers is the best social service. I support causes. In our own way, we are trying to do something. Overall, it is the society that benefits.

  16. Thanks for sharing this, Rachna. If we can make at least one individual’s life better, I believe it is a worthy life. Most of us don’t know where to begin and info like this definitely helps. I am going to check out the sites you have posted and see what I can do.

    • Absolutely agree, DC. Let us begin with making one life better and then go on from there. I agree that taking that initial step might be a challenge, but once we convince our hearts, we will take that step. I hope my post can put that germ of an idea in everyone’s mind. If even one person moves to give, it will be purpose well served. Thank you so much for your comment.

  17. I support a good cause whenever I can. If you trust the mentioned charities, I do too. Thanks for sharing.

  18. I saw it too and yes, if we can do just a little bit, that makes a big difference to other’s lives. Checking the credibility is extremely important as well so I make it a point to do appropriate research before contributing monetarily and emotionally as well.

  19. I have seen what you say. I used to go for teaching children as part of our Vivekanda Study Circle Group and find so called 5th standard children not even able to read and write.

    • And that is so very sad. What is the purpose of that kind of education? It makes me so very sad. On the one hand, there are children clamoring for good education that can get them jobs tomorrow. And a severe lack of facilities and resources on the other hand. At least we can try and help those children who can’t study due to lack of funds. We can try and support one child. Most of us can afford to do so if only we take the initiative to do so.

  20. Agree, agree. Often, we come to believe we are isolates. We are part of society. For our own healthy future, we need our environment to be healthy. If children are not educated, do not employment opportunities, do not have good nutrition that allows their brains and systems to grow properly–we will see juvenile delinquencies. And then we will clamor in the street for reducing juvenile age and call for death. Who is responsible? All of us. We have to share what we have for we contribute to our collective future. Without the collective, we do not exist. Kudos to you Rachna for this heartfelt post–sincere and personal. Another blogger sponsored a child two days back on his birthday. It was so beautiful to note that. An fb friend is celebrating his child’s birthday in a children’s cancer hospital. Each of you make our environment more healthy, more wholesome. Thank you!

    • Thank you Bhavana for your insightful comment. You have linked it all beautifully. We want things to get better but none of us is willing to take responsibility for all that we see around us. It is easy to sit in our cozy homes and criticize. We hardly ever think about what is within our means that we can do to help accelerate change in society. I hope that my post is not misconstrued for anything except an earnest plea to give from our hearts whatever we can. Thank you again for your kind words. As a person who understand volunteering and charities so much better than any of us, your opinion is of great value to all of us.

  21. A post on the topic dear to my heart. No wonder we are all drawn together, since most of us who are reading and love Rachna, understand what she talks about and also feel almost the same way, irrespective our age.

    You have made me think about my experiences in this respect that need to be written as a separate post..I would like to refer you in my post.

    Meanwhile, a lovely post , as usual Rachna.

    • thank you Pattu! I would love to hear your experiences. You are right about being drawn together even though we’ve not all met as yet. Will look forward to your post!

  22. Rachna I must thank you for pointing out the urgency of educating and attending to the needs of children who are unable to attend school due to financial reasons. The Govt has, from time to time introduced several schemes for the upliftment of these children, but (and this is a big BUT) unfortunately the schemes do not produce the desired results due to vested interests.Recently the govt has made it mandatory for Public schools to reserve 25% seats for children comlng from the lower strata of society,but most of the Public Schools have jointly filed a petition in the Court against this endeavour..The alternative,as you have rightly said is that we must do our best to educate as many children as we can afford.My daughter-in-law is teaching in a reputed School,She has admitted our maid’s son in her School and is paying not only the tution fees but all other expenses like the bus fees and school uniform.There is a world of change in the child.He looks self reliant and confident.

    • You are right, Usha. Just today there was an article in the newspaper where a parent was given in writing that the school refuses to provide their child with a seat under RTE till they can get a letter from the government showing that the remaining fees are deposited from the government’s end. The fact is that most of us would rather have the poor kids disappear, at least not come anywhere near our own precious ones. And kudos to your daughter-in-law! What an amazing example she is setting.

  23. yeah absolutely education alone can bring positive change in India thus helping letting us towards sustainable development.

    Weakest LINK

  24. meaningful post buddy as usual..cheers n wishes

  25. insignia on February 7, 2013 at 11:21 am said:

    Loved this piece. Yes, its very important to check the credibility of NGOs. there are many springing up in the pretext of serving but what they do is mint money for themselves. I have been a regular patron of Akshaya Patra, their cause is so pure. They have hit the nail on the head in solving the very cause of poverty.

    And then, there is also Agaram foundation; they are doing a good job too

    • Thank you Insignia. I agree about Akshay Patra. Their cause is pure. And what can be a better way than feeding handcooked, hygenically prepared, nutritious food! Absolutely, we must be watchful about the rogue NGOs. I just hope that we don’t completely tune off the idea of giving due to that. There are always avenues to help if we really want to.

  26. My mom and I support the education on 2 girl children in my village. One of them is now 19 and is doing her second year BA. She now hopes to give a banking exam and work for a bank. Ofcourse she studies extra ordinarily hard and gets a lot of scholarships too. Her father is deaf and dumb and clims the trees to extract coconuts in our village. When she was young, he had all the intentions to get her married, because she was an extra burden for the family, but thankfully my mother interferred and that made such a huge difference to her life. Just one year more, and she ready to earn and change the life of her family, and most importantly her own. The other girl is orphaned and is in the class 6. I really admire my mom for this gesture of hers!

  27. everyone of us should do something in the field of education .. because with educated people around, the country grows!

  28. Pingback: Banega Swachh India: Health and Sanitation for all! - Rachna Says

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