Archive - January 2015

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Valentine’s Day

VDay

There is more to Valentine’s Day than meets the eye. Here are some fascinating facts you’ll be amazed to know!

The popular holiday of Valentine’s Day is celebrated internationally on February 14th, a tradition that dates back to the third century AD!

The day is named after Valentinus, a Roman Catholic priest who later attained martyrdom and became known as Saint Valentinus or Saint Valentine.

Valentinus attained martyrdom when he was executed for going against the king’s wishes. The day his death sentence was carried out – February 14th – became known as Valentine’s Day.

There are several stories as to why Valentinus was imprisoned and sentenced to death. In fact, over the centuries, many priests were named after Valentinus and their stories began to merge with his, leading to an abundance of myths revolving around St. Valentine.

The Most Popular Myth

The story goes that the Roman Catholic priest Valentinus lived in Rome during the rule of King Claudius in around 3 AD. The king had many beliefs that stifled his kingdom. One of his decrees made Christianity illegal. Another belief he enforced regarded his soldiers’ marital status. Claudius believed that soldiers should remain unmarried. His reasoning was that if soldiers had families, they would not fight fearlessly to death, since they would want to ensure they returned home to their wife and children.

Valentinus, being a staunch Catholic, stuck to his faith though it was made illegal. And he continued to perform the marriage rites for any soldiers who approached him wanting to get married. When King Claudius found out about this, he had Valentinus imprisoned and sentenced him to death.

While in prison, one of the prison guards asked Valentinus if he would tutor his blind daughter Julia. Valentinus agreed and began to pass on his knowledge to Julia. He spoke to her, describing nature, objects, art, etc. so she could understand them even through her blindness. He taught her about faith and belief in Christ. One day Julia confided in Valentinus that she had begun to pray for the blessing of sight, and so she and Valentinus joined her in her prayers. Their faith grew so strong that one day Julia suddenly saw a bright light and gained back her vision. On the day Valentinus died, February 14, he left her a last note, urging her to keep her faith strong. He signed it ‘From Your Valentine’. And that is how Valentine’s Day came into being.

So Valentine’s Day was originally not about romance but about the goodness of sacrifice and about the power of faith.

So, in the true spirit of Valentine’s Day, why not do something to instill faith in others and spread goodness? Start a campaign and make life a little sweeter for the underprivileged. Spread the true Valentine spirit this year!

 

2 Must-See Campaigns (Tea Shop Couple and American Artist Monica)

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We usually wax eloquent about the wonders of crowdfunding. This time, we’re giving the trumpets a rest and letting 2 cool campaigns do all the talking for us.

We promise not to go on about how cool crowdfunding is. Or how convenient it is. Or how easy it is to raise funds online on our platform. Or that it’s free. Or how you can not only fundraise for social causes but personal causes too. We promise. We won’t harp on it.

Instead, we’ve decided to let a couple of really cool campaigns do the talking for us. We’ll just make the introductions.

Campaign Numero Uno

The first campaign is about an elderly couple from Kochi who have been running a modest little tea shop for about 40 years. Vijayan and Mohana are in their mid-to-late 60s. What is unique to them is that they have travelled all over India and 16 other countries across the globe, including UAE, Egypt, Austria, France and Britain.

Their modest little tea shop doesn’t allow them this world-travelling luxury, but the enterprising duo hit upon the ideal method to get the funding they needed. They would take bank loans for travel expenses, go on their little foreign adventure and then return and spend the next 3 years working towards paying off the bank loan.

Next on the couple’s wanderlust list was United States of America. Unfortunately, as often occurs in life, there came a curve ball. Due to their advancing age, banks began rejecting their requests for a loan. Since the tea shop was and is the couple’s only source of funding, it seemed like the couple was going to have to give up on their dream of visiting USA and on further travels.

The media website The News Minute got wind of the Kochi couple’s plight and decided to tell their story. In fact, the website did one better – Co-Founder Vignesh decided to help the couple by crowdfunding for them. And so the tea shop couple’s inspiring campaign was born on Ketto.

Campaign Numero Dos

The second campaign is one from the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. A young American artist named Monica reached out to the online community to help her raise funds for a laptop. Her old one had broken down some time back and she had been borrowing laptops from friends to complete her design work and keep her income flowing.

The curve ball life threw here came when Monica needed to temporarily relocate from Chicago to San Francisco to focus on a new project. In a new city, Monica would not have friends to borrow a laptop from. She needed to get a MacBook Pro of her own. Her solution? Starting a campaign on Indiegogo and sharing her predicament with the online community, requesting for funds and emotional support.

Whereas the tea shop couple’s campaign successfully raised its goal amount on Ketto some time back, Monica’s campaign is still active and has another 10 days to go. Get the feel of a campaign in progress by visiting her campaign page. Check out the fun rewards she’s giving away for the support she gets.

There you go. Two cool campaigns that clearly illustrate how easy and rewarding it can be to fundraise a personal cause online – be it for your desire to travel, to make art, to invent some technological marvel, to sing, to act – or almost anything you desire.

So without much further ado, we invite you to get on Ketto and start your crowdfunding campaign today. Hasta pronto! See you soon!

 

Why NGOs Need Online Fundraising

NGOs need online fundraising

Online fundraising is the new kid on the block but is already proving to be a winning choice for NGOs.

In a country like ours, it is commendable that we have approximately 32 lakh non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working towards the betterment of the nation. This means that there are a significant number of Indian citizens who were spurred enough by our nation’s social and political issues to form an association that works doggedly towards resolving them.

It is unsurprising that a majority of these NGOs – approximately 59% – are located in rural areas, working towards providing the very basic fundamentals necessary for life (running water, electricity, sanitation etc.). Of course, these are not the only issues rural NGOs deal with. Issues related to women, children, education, health, the disabled, elderly, housing etc. are also focused on.

According to a survey conducted in 2012, 41% of NGOs in India work in social services towards children, women, the disabled, the elderly and others, 19% work in education and research, 5% in development and housing, 2% in health, 1% in the field of environment protection and so on.

Of course, one NGO may have more than one area of focus. Such as Smile Foundation, an NGO that works for education, healthcare and livelihood preparedness for women and children. Or the NGO Care India, whose area of focus is disaster preparedness and relief in addition to and in relation with issues faced by women and children.

Even with the effort our NGOs put into raising awareness and funds for several causes, it is an unfortunate truth that they are only able to raise Rs 41.5 crores, of which a sizeable portion gets whittled away in salaries, rent and various other operational expenses. Nearly 54% of the total funds raised are sourced from grants, while a mere 16.4% comes from donations.

To raise a significantly higher amount of funds, the traditional method of offline fundraising needs to be supplemented with online fundraising. The internet is a powerful beast and can be tamed to suit our requirements.

In fact, the most fundamental advice given to NGOs is related to creating a strong online presence. Smaller NGOs are often advised to follow the basic tenets of success – to ensure that their website is mobile-optimised, that they begin sending out periodic e-newsletters, that they begin to accept donations online, that they create a Facebook page for their NGO and that they observe the online fundraising methods and social media campaigns of larger, established NGOs.

This is because online fundraising may be young, but it is growing exponentially each year. Yes, offline fundraising does provide a substantial 90% to online fundraising’s 10%. But the latter has grown leaps and bounds in its few years of existence and continues to do so.

The online realm offers some distinct advantages over the traditional offline methods of fundraising. Online fundraising gives NGOs the promise of longevity in terms of donors. It makes sourcing newer donors and sustaining their support easier for NGOs.

With the 2012 Bain study showing that the younger demographic (under 30) has a strong inclination to give back to their community and tends to make a large first donation online, with a sustained habit of giving, online fundraising is the cool kid on the block that’s quickly beginning to rule the fundraising roost. It is a fact that online donors give more and continue to give over a longer period of time as compared to offline donors. Our advice to NGOs large and small – if you haven’t dug into the online fundraising pie yet, help yourself today! You are guaranteed some sweet, sweet fundraising dessert.

5 Ways To Do More Today

Satyameva Jayate and how individuals can lead India into the future just like the TV show is

Just like Satyameva Jayate uses the medium of television to shed light on social issues and lead us into the future, you can use the power of social media and start an online campaign, leading India towards a better tomorrow.

It is a matter of civic responsibility to be aware of current events, of societal issues, of the problems being faced by our community. It is important to educate ourselves of all the aspects of an issue so as to have unbiased knowledge of it. So as to be able to understand it thoroughly and in turn, be able to resolve the issue in the best possible manner.

Helping our community is necessary. Driving positive social change – in whatever way we can – is necessary. In today’s world, being proactive is necessary.

It was Gandhiji who had said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” As Indians, it is our duty to change the world for the better. To do what is within our power to do. That is why the conscientious television show Satyameva Jayate gives you the opportunity to be part of the change, to safely give to those organisations that take positive action towards societal betterment.

We are the pillars of our nation and it is through us that our country will strengthen. So far, paying it forward through Satyameva Jayate was about giving to a charitable organization featured on their website.  It was about the noble act of giving. Today, it has become more.

Today, you, as an individual, can lead India towards a better tomorrow. You have that power. All you need to do is start an online campaign for a social cause and rally supporters from your social network – your friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances. Go online, start a campaign to fundraise for a cause, spread the word through social media and begin raising awareness and funds for the cause.

Satyameva Jayate uses the power of television to spread the word. You can use the power of social media.

The Concept

You can start an online campaign for a non-governmental organisation or a social cause close to your heart. You can choose a theme for your campaign, to help generate more interest for your chosen cause or NGO.

  • If your birthday or wedding is coming up, you can use that as a theme. When you reach out to your network, you can tell them you have started an online fundraiser as a birthday or wedding wish to raise funds for a good cause. Ask them to gift you for your birthday or wedding by giving to this online campaign.
  • You can use a special holiday like Diwali, Gandhi Jayanti, etc. or an awareness day like World Aids Day as a campaign theme as well.
  • If you participate in marathons, you can use that as a theme. While spreading the word about your online campaign, you can tell everyone that you’re running to raise awareness and funds for your social cause.
  • If you like being creative, you can tell your network that if they help your campaign, you will do things like dance in public and post a video of it on Youtube, or that you’ll get a tattoo or shave your head or colour your hair or grow a beard etc. This theme has the potential to not only get the funds and awareness raised, but also to spread laughter to all who get involved.
  • Another theme is to start a campaign for the cause supported by your favourite celebrity. Check what your celebrity’s favourite cause or NGO is and start campaigning online to support it as well.
The Steps

The steps are simple. All you need to do is visit www.ketto.org, click on ‘Start A Campaign’, fill up the online form by choosing the cause and NGO, type in your goal amount and personal message, upload an image and submit the form. When you receive your campaign page link in your email, start sharing it with your social network, asking them to support your campaign by giving to it and spreading the word further to their networks.

Be the change-maker. Be the leader. Join the revolution. Mumkin hai.

Jai Hind!

 

7 Things To Know About Leprosy

leprosy

Here’s everything you need to know about Hansen’s Disease, a.k.a. Leprosy, in time for World Leprosy Day on 25th January (also observed on 30th January in India).

What is leprosy?

Leprosy – also known as Hansen’s Disease – is a disease caused by a bacteria that affects the skin and nerves of the limbs, face and even the eyes, gradually killing sensation in the affected area. So, for instance, if an affected person were to touch a hot stove unawares, they would not realise that they have burned their hand. The wound caused by this accident would most probably get infected over time and lead to more complications like permanent deformities and related disabilities.

Is it contagious?

Leprosy is not as infectious as a cold but can be caught in the same manner. If there is repeated contact with an infected person, through droplets emitted from the nose or mouth, leprosy can be transmitted to you. It incubates for up to 5 years and may take up to 20 years to show symptoms.

Is it curable?

Yes! Once detected, it can be treated and cured. Early detection works best to avoid complications such as infections and deformities. So if you live in an endemic area, get a check-up.

Is leprosy found in India?

Unfortunately, yes. Leprosy in India can be traced back to as far as 2000 BC. Today, India accounts for 54% of leprosy cases in the world. A saddening 10% of these cases are seen among children. The disease occurs the most in poverty-stricken areas.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

Pale patches of skin are the earliest visible signs of leprosy. Because they don’t itch, people often don’t get them checked. These patches then develop into bumps and sores, with a gradual numbing of the area, which then leads to deformities and worse.

What are the effects of leprosy?

Besides the physiological effects, possible deformities and resulting disabilities, there are psychological effects to leprosy that need to be dealt with as well. Although the disease is curable and not half as infectious as the common cold, the social stigma attached to it can be debilitating for an individual. Those having the disease are often outcast from society and end up leading lonely, severely marginalised lives.

Shockingly, discrimination against leprosy is ingrained not just in the Indian psyche but within our legal system as well. Although the Leprosy Act of 1898 was made to protect those affected by the disease, discrimination still runs rife through our legal system. Some states have laws preventing those with leprosy from getting a driver’s license, and some hold the discovery or contracting of leprosy as legal grounds for divorce. Things like travelling by train are also off limits for leprosy patients in some states.

What can we do?

Imagine how difficult it must be for those dealing with leprosy to also face discrimination in daily life. Imagine having an amputated foot, using crutches and not being allowed to use the local train. Imagine being turned away from shops and restaurants and asked to vacate public spaces just because you have a visible disease. Imagine being treated as an untouchable.

In the 21st century, it is shameful that this situation actually exists. We need to eradicate the situation and the disease. One way to do this is to help raise awareness about the disease. Another way to do this is to raise funds to help those dealing with leprosy.

You can be the change our society needs by starting a campaign like Raja did for Madurai Health and Leprosy Relief Centre. Or for Damien Foundation, an NGO that works to eradicate leprosy and tuberculosis.

Get started now!

 

Bhakti Sharma Does It Again!

Open-water swimmer Bhakti Sharma Tweets about breaking world record

Ketto is proud to be part of world record holder, open-water swimmer Bhakti Sharma’s amazing success.

If you were to meet her in passing, Bhakti Sharma would seem like just another twenty-something lass, making her way into adulthood. If you were to delve just a little bit deeper, you would realise you’re in the presence of some incredible talent.

This young lady is an open-water swimmer par excellence. Why are we using a superlative to describe her? Why a fancy French one at that? Because it’s a spot on description of the talented young lady! After all, Bhakti has just broken all kinds of world records! She just set a new world record by swimming 1.4 miles of the freezing Antarctic Ocean (it was at a temperature of one degree Celsius), in an amazing 52 minutes.

And that’s not all. She has now swum in all five oceans of the world, in addition to other water bodies. “I’ve broken the #WorldRecord for being the ‘Youngest swimmer in the World to #swim in all oceans’,” she Tweets. Bhakti has conquered the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and now the Antarctic Ocean. She’s also swum the English Channel, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean Sea and others.

Why is Ketto bursting with pride and excitement? Because Bhakti Sharma campaigned on our website and successfully raised nearly 8 lakhs for her swim in the Antarctic Ocean, dedicating it to girl-child education. We are proud as peacocks to be part of Bhakti’s mission to conquer the Antarctic and the world!

Bhakti adds, “I have just broken a World Record for my country, #India! Thank you all for your #support!” In a country where most sports (save cricket) are severely marginalized, we’re honoured to be able to provide talented sportspeople an avenue to gather support. Ketto is proud to be part of Bhakti’s success and India’s progress.

Here’s to more laurels for Bhakti Sharma and for India!

Want to know more about Bhakti? Click me!
Want to check out her campaign? Click me!
Want to gather support for your own talent? Click to get started!