Noble ACT
Bengaluru-based Ashwini Charitable Trust strives to support underprivileged children—with education and empowerment—until they are employed
 
It was the year 2000 in Bengaluru. A group of women got together to educate nine underprivileged children and empower them to enter the mainstream after they finished their education. The kids were from the Ulsoor slums in Bengaluru. The children have done well and the group of women has now widened their network. 
 
On 15 December 2000, the activity was formalised by registering a trust named after the first child it sponsored—Ashwini. “The logo has the footprint of a little child to symbolise that all our giant leaps start off with small steps,” points out Sujatha Mukherjee, a senior activist-volunteer. Ashwini Charitable Trust (ACT) is still run by the women and, after 13 years, it has 170 children and over 70 dedicated volunteers supporting its activities. 
 
ACT sponsors hardworking and dedicated children from semi-government and government-aided private schools. Its volunteers network with educational institutions where the medium of instruction is English and are within a radius of a kilometre from the ACT’s resource centre. “Every year, heads of these institutions recommend needy and deserving children whom we interview and test before admitting them into the Trust. We are proud to have a long waiting list of children who want to join us. However, we deliberately restrict our numbers so that every child gets more effective intervention,” says Ms Mukherjee.
 
The Trust was formed with the sole objective of educating and empowering underprivileged girls. However, when a girl is sponsored in a particular year, ACT takes her sibling the next year, irrespective of the gender. Hence, ACT now has about 46 boys. ACT believes that this will help uplift an entire family.
 
The activities of ACT include education, healthcare, counselling and recreation. There are two novel aspects to ACT’s work with children: teaching for financial freedom and mentoring. 
 
“Makar Sankranti, 14 January 2005, was a landmark in the history of ACT. With the help for State Bank of India’s managers, we were able to start savings bank accounts for all our children with their mothers as their natural guardians,” says Ms Mukherjee proudly.
 
As regards mentoring, senior children of the Trust volunteer for two hours every week to coach the younger children. This gradually moulds them to be responsible leaders capable of making decisions and leading a young team. The younger children, who are motivated and inspired by the hard work of their seniors, consider the latter as their role models. Ms Mukherjee says, “They bond beautifully and create an extended family.”
 
It is interesting to look back at how the first two girls under ACT’s care have fared. Sowmia came to ACT in 2000 and was ready for a mainstream job only in 2009. Her father is a tailor and mother, a homemaker; she was the youngest of three children in the family. Her older siblings are high-school dropouts. Sowmia left ACT with a BCom degree and a job with HP (Hewlett Packard). Divya, daughter of a single parent, is the eldest of three siblings. Although she could not survive the academic grind, she trained to be a graphic designer and, currently, works with Indigo—a printer in Bengaluru.
 
Over the years, the success rate of ACT’s intervention has improved. In 2013-2014, Veneetha graduated from St Joseph’s College of Commerce with a first class in BCom. She is, currently, employed with Standard Chartered Bank as an operations officer.
 
If you would like to contribute to the cause of ACT, you can send a cheque/DD drawn in favour of: The Ashwini Charitable Trust payable at Bengaluru. All contributions are eligible for tax-exemption under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act.
 

Ashwini Charitable Trust 

No.3, St. John’s Road Cross,  Near Ulsoor Lake, 
Bengaluru 560042, Karnataka
Telephone: +91 80 40924050

 

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

3 years ago

I looked at the website after reading OSK's comment.

The site states clearly that it is an organization that teaches NGOs to raise funds here and abroad. It does not do any charitable work itself but helps others to raise funds for the charitable work.

Fundraising is big business. It requires skill and contacts. It can also cost a lot. Many charitable organizations spend as much as 60% of their income on raising funds.

In USA, Charity Navigator rates charitable organizations on how much is spent on fund raising, how much on administration, how transparent is the organization, how much is its top officer paid, etc. The website is http://www.charitynavigator.org/ The organization gives a rating based on this info and also points out other charitable organizations with a similar mission which have better ratings.

Now Indians have become affluent, become more aware of the deprivation around them and are more inclined to give to charitable organizations rather than just to their poor family members, caste associations or religious entities. We need an organization similar to Charity Navigator to help us give intelligently.

O S Kempawad

3 years ago

May be this ACT is genuine one.

There is another one in Jayanagar, Bengaluru. Its name is NGO Fundeaisers (http://www.ngofundraisers.com)

The person who is running it claims it is an NGO & he is doing a charitable work for the underprivileged.

But in reality it is nothing but a HITECH-BEGGING RACKET which the gentleman in question is doing in a most professional manner.

I have seen many elderly people coming and donating handsome amount of money thinking that, the gentleman in question spends that money for those needy people. No one tries to knows whether this man who has done MBA in CHEATING spends the donations for the intended purpose or not.

This great gentleman proclaims that he was head of MNC wherein there were 800 staff under him & he personally had 3 secretaries. But still left the job as some divine force guided him to quit and start this noble job.

No outsider will come to know about what this gentleman is doing. It is only when one gets inside, will come to know what is the real motive of this so called NGO!

So I think one has to be careful when donating their sweat money to such FAKE Charitable Trusts & the like.

Effective Public Action
A social organisation for like-minded people, founded by late Justice Ashok Desai, has emerged as a public platform
 
Way back, in 1987, a handful of public-spirited individuals came together, inspired by the late Justice Ashok Desai, to sow the seeds of a unique public platform that is now known as Jan Manch (public platform). Justice Desai was then on the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. One of the first decisions by the group was to steer clear of party politics in any form, and to keep the organisation open to all, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
 
Advocate Kilor recalls, “Our consistent performance gradually caught the attention of the people in general and the media in particular, and the network began to expand, just as Justice Desai had predicted. With increasing activities and expectations of people, it became imperative to assume a formal identity and, thus, Jan Manch was formed in 2008.” Advocate Kilor, a dedicated activist and lawyer, is the president of this Nagpur-based NGO. Over the years, Jan Manch has evolved as a social organisation that works with the grassroots administration as well as directly with the people. 
 
Advocate Kilor says “As the organisation grew, we branched into different directions like working for village uplift, setting up outlets to distribute generic medicines, extending financial assistance to rural students from families that are below the poverty line, supplying free medicines as well as cash assistance to patients in financial distress and so on. In fact, in 2012, when we established a store for generic medicines in Nagpur, it was one of the first in Central India.” At the same time, Jan Manch’s fight against corruption also intensified and became more focused.
 
As lack of irrigation facilities is a major cause of farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha, Jan Manch decided to focus its energy on the issue. Its staff painstakingly gathered evidence of corrupt practices in irrigation projects and filed a public interest litigation (PIL) before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. The PIL compelled the government to order a probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). Along with involving the government, Advocate Kilor points out, “We also started a Sinchan Shodh Yatra’ (irrigation search journey) to find out what exactly ails these projects and to help speed them up. In the last three months, our activists have started visiting at least one project every fortnight. They make a detailed inspection of the site, accompanied by officials of the irrigation department as well as representatives of print and electronic media. We have visited six projects so far, including the most ambitious and the corruption-ridden Gosikhurd National Project. During these visits, we have come across many instances of extremely shoddy and inferior quality of work, as a result of collusion between political bosses, officials and contractors.”
 
The relentless shodh yatra, the glare of adverse publicity in the media and a footpath exhibition of photographs led the government to involve Jan Manch on a regular basis in Nagpur for feedback. Advocate Kilor said that Jan Manch has been invited to meet the government officials at their regional headquarters in Nagpur on the first Saturday of every month. Officials answer the NGO’s queries, outline their problems and give a written assurance about the deadline for finishing each project in all respects.
 
Among other activities, Jan Manch has adopted a village named Pahurjira in Buldhana district (with a population of 12,000, located 350km from Nagpur). The NGO found that there was no playground or proper facilities for children. It not only acquired a suitable site from the gram panchayat, but also installed playthings and stocked toys in the premises—what you would find in any well-kept garden in a city. Now, more than a hundred children gather there every evening and the place is alive with their squeals of merriment and laughter.
 
Work, thus, goes on at Jan Manch on grave matters and simple improvement of public facilities. Readers may donate to further the cause of Jan Manch. Donations are exempt under Section 80-G of the Income Tax Act. 
 

Jan Manch

Premium Plaza, M-5, 242, Mata Mandir Rd, Khare Town,
Dharampeth, Nagpur, Maharashtra 440010
Telephone +91 9373104125, +91 9822221423
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COMMENTS

Vikram Dhotre

3 years ago

Very worthy and painstaking effort indeed. Just wonder what happened to all the cacophony of probing irrigation irregularities, the people involved in the scam seem to be the living example of the phrase 'business as usual'!

Beacon of Hope for the Rural People
Sakaar Sewa Samiti acts as a catalyst for change and inspires people in rural UP
 
Temsutula Imsong from Nagaland has many admirers on Twitter for her inspirational posts and photographs about the transformation of various ghats of Varanasi. #MissionPrabhughat is the hashtag for a story of transformation of this ghat from being an unholy place stinking of excreta to a beautiful, crowd-funded initiative undertaken by Temsutula, Darshika Shah and a team of dedicated volunteers. 
 
The duo, along with many other ‘friends’ like Shailesh Pandey (who retired from the Indian Navy), and other serving and retired servicemen, is part of an NGO called Sakaar Sewa Samiti. Registered as a society, Sakaar aims to promote rural development, create employment opportunities and set up educational institutions to reduce migration to cities. It hopes to do this while maintaining the simplicity of rural life. 
 
The recognition received by #Mission Prabhughat, which the Sakaar team acknowledges was inspired by prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, also got Temsutula invited to meet the PM along with 150 others. “We want to make #MissionPrabhughat a model for others to emulate—in terms of finances, efficiency, execution and every other facet that concerns cleanliness,” wrote Darshika Shah in an article recently. While the team ensures that ‘offenders’ dirtying the ghat are given buckets to clean up the mess they have created, the problem of open defecation remains. 
 
The widespread recognition of #MissionPrabhughat has encouraged the team to undertake initiatives relating to cleanliness and preservation of water bodies. It will also continue to work in the villages to promote hygienic practices like hand-washing and keeping the surroundings clean, as well as forming self-help groups to strengthen the rural economy.
 
The message of Sakaar has begun to reach the public near Varanasi and Ms Imsong says that “now people share their problems with us and they actively ask people not to litter the ghats. This is so positive and such a change from their indifference when we started.”
 
Among the early challenges that the NGO faced was, “Getting together people who could understand the idea behind Sakaar as these people were from various states and their pursuits in life were totally different,” says Ms Imsong.
 
What seems to work for Sakaar is its strong social media presence, which has enabled it to crowd-fund its initiatives through dedicated supporters across the country. They are able to follow its activities through regular updates with a steady stream of photographs and posts on social media. It allows supporters to watch the transformation unfold and see their money being utilised effectively. 
 
Sakaar was initially funded by a close-knit group of friends who support its initiatives. They (Radha Raju, Manoj Sirsa, Girish Singh, Shishir Bajpai, Harsh Chaturvedi, Abhishek Dwivedi, Shiv Mishra, Dr Satya Saraswat and many others) pitch in whenever the need arises, sums up Imsong.
 
During the Uttarakhand floods, Sakaar managed to put up a ropeway at Relgaon near Fata. This was really a case study of people coming together to do something for others. This ropeway is still being used and benefits about 11 villages.
 
Organic farming and spice processing are the two activities that Sakaar is planning to take up in Varanasi. Sakaar is making a humongous effort to change the lives of the poor and give them a life of dignity!
 
Readers are welcome to donate to Sakaar, provided they are Indian citizens and have a PAN card. Donations are exempt under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act.
 

Sakaar

Village Kataria, Post Dharammapur,
Ghazipur-233232, Uttar Pradesh
Mobile 08765003091
 
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