Category - Education

Filmmakers On Crowdfunding #1: Proposition for A Revolution

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[Want more inside stories on independent filmmakers and their trysts with crowdfunding? Stay tuned for Parts II (exploring Anamitra Roy’s ‘The One Rupee Film Project‘) & III.]

After digging deeper into the history of crowdfunding in film with Shyam Benegal, and exploring director Navneet Prakash’s journey working on his racing documentary ‘Sons of Speed’, we decided to cut to the chase. As we continue exploring the relationship between crowdfunding and films, we go, this time, straight to the sources — collecting opinions from filmmakers who have crowdfunded for their films and thus, had their audiovisual dreams see the light of day because of it.

In Part I of this series, we look at the journey of the team behind upcoming documentary Proposition for a Revolution by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, to distil the essence of what it is about independent filmmaking and crowdfunding that make them such a natural fit.

Proposition for A Revolution chronicles the journey of the Aam Aadmi Party from its genesis, right up till its first Delhi Assembly elections.

“The project started with the two of us going to Delhi in late 2012, to find out what exactly was happening on ground with the AAP,” Khushboo tells us. “The news reports that were coming were largely dissatisfactory, so we decided to make a trip. Once in Delhi, we realised something very unique was unfolding, and we began to document everything on camera, simply because there was nobody else documenting it.

“Slowly, the AAP phenomenon became bigger and the story began to play itself out. We had been filming all along so the project really grew organically from one stage to another.”

Khushboo explains that while the initial funding on the project came out of their own pockets and from Anand Gandhi, their first and strongest backer, many that they showed their material to, loved it — but didn’t necessarily want to put money on it. “We were looking for funding continuously, but most private investors in India found the idea of a political documentary rather dangerous and unsavoury,” she explains. Some very prestigious international documentary grants kept the project afloat for a while, until finally, they turned to crowdfunding as a last resort.

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Creating their own platform, they set up their own website, borrowed a friend’s payment gateway and got the ball rolling. With a dedicated crowdfunding campaign team in place, headed by ‘whizkid’ Zain Memon, they set up all the technical, design and organisational workflows for the campaign, which helped them stay on top of things as they went along.

Their campaign ended up raising over 180% of its intended target, to their genuine surprise. Khushboo highlights an important point, “More than money, there have been so many people who have come forward and offered us their resources, and a chance to collaborate. It’s good to know when your work resonates with people.”

Co-creators of Prop4Rev, Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla. Source: Platform Magazine

Co-creators of Prop4Rev, Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla. Source: Platform Magazine

When asked for three tips they’d give someone looking to start a crowdfunding campaign, Vinay says, “Firstly, get a dedicated team for your campaign. You will probably have to pay them but you’ll need a dedicated team. Secondly, be prepared to adapt. It may just turn out that your campaign gets a lukewarm response and you have to rethink your strategy. And lastly, get an accountant/money person on board when you are planning your campaign. Our accountant helped us understand the financial liabilities attached with our campaign and it’s deliverables which in turn helped us plan better. I know this sounds boring but just do it.”

Khushboo’s take addresses different aspects, “Firstly, identify captive groups and online communities which are likely to identify/empathize with your cause. Secondly, your pitch/trailer is the most important part of your campaign. Aim for clarity and a compelling narrative. Thirdly, engage with your backers. You’ll be surprised with what can come out of such interactions.”

When asked if they’d turn to crowdfunding again in the future, their answer’s a no-brainer, “Definitely.”

School of Crowdfunding #1: Why It’s Not All About The Money

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Countless entrepreneurs worldover have already sniffed out the incredible potential of crowdfunding campaigns to fund their projects. One of the easiest ways to gather funds from a like-minded global audience, it’s compounded by the reach the world wide web offers us, giving dream projects an actual chance at materialising.

Over 1000 campaigners have managed to raise a whopping INR 7.5 crore on Ketto.org itself, so it’s safe to say crowdfunding’s no sinking ship. We take a look at some of these benefits that crowdfunding campaigners enjoy:

I) A Chance to Hone Their Vision

First off, let’s address the elephant in the room: crowdfunding is hands-down the easiest way to gather funds, especially compared to looking for angel investors or applying for a loan. Skipping the heavy networking and red tape, crowdfunding gives you a chance to focus on the stuff that really matters.

Entrepreneurs get a chance to learn on the go; they gain not only clarity in their own vision, but also how to best convey the message to their target audience.

For instance, the Team 4ze Racing campaign intends to use its resources for research and development of electricity as an alternate source of energy, as well as the manufacturing of parts for their car for Formula Student Electric events in 2016.

II. Getting the Word Out

Your crowdfunding campaign with the right kind of exposure on social media would make for quite the dream team. Backers can gain access to your entire journey through your crowdfunding page, which creates a sense of transparency and ownership.

Many backers are keen on getting equity at a later stage, so by actively promoting your campaign, you’re building a loyal customer base right off the bat.

Vijayan and his wife, Mohana, enjoying their vacation in Switzerland. Source: The News Minute

Vijayan and his wife, Mohana, enjoying their vacation in Switzerland. Source: The News Minute

Take ‘Invisible Wings‘, for example — a film documenting the story of Vijayan, the owner of a tea stall in Cochin, who travelled all over the world; an extraordinary story about an ordinary person that resonated with various people around the world.

III. Crowdsourcing Ideas

If trial and error is the name of the game, your crowdfunding campaign gives you a chance to figure out what is a hit, and what is a miss. Here’s a public forum created especially for your target audience, where they can share with you what it is about your project that really works, and what needs some more work. It’s a two-way street, after all.

This kind of feedback is invaluable, especially at such an early stage, so that you get to test the market and create a final product that delivers exactly what it has promised.

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Our ‘Spreadfoodlove’ initiative is a classic case of crowdsourcing ideas — food bloggers creating campaigns for the causes they believe in.

IV. Credibility — Making Your Project Legit

Your backers, those offering suggestions in the public forum, potential investors — these are all part of a community you’re building, who are interested in the brand of your project. This means that it’s not just your current endeavour, but many of your future ones, too, that they’re going to be following.

Networking just became so much easier, and that, too, based on the legitimacy of your campaign and its journey.

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We are hoping to affect a change in the life of 21-year-old Khaliza Khatoon (or Gaja Laxmi) life, who suffers from neurofibromatosis, with Soul Angels Group‘s initiative which is raising funds for her surgery.

V. What Is At Stake?

At the heart of it, crowdfunding is really a win-win, when you think about it. Even if your project doesn’t meet its goal in a certain amount of time, you always have the chance to regroup, discuss and then come up with a new way to pitch the idea so it truly resonates with your audience.

There are countless other things that campaigners pick up along the way that far exceed the value of money, and with crowdfunding, an entrepreneur actually stands to gain much more than he does to lose.

[Feature Image Credit: Quickenloans.com]

Crowdfunding Pioneer Shyam Benegal on Gathering Funds For His 1976 Film ‘Manthan’

Source: Flickr

“I think there are many filmmakers who are turning to crowdfunding today, with good reason,” Mr. Benegal remarks. “It’s a question of whether people feel the film is worthwhile. Opportunities are much greater today, and there are many avenues today for filmmakers, especially because of the reach of the internet.”

His own 1976 film ‘Manthan’, on the White Revolution of India, was made thanks to the contribution of over half a million milk farmers in Gujarat in the mid-1970’s, a staggering show of solidarity that told the tale of their movement on the big screen.

Director of Manthan, 1976, Shyam Benegal. [Image: Wikiwand]

Director of Manthan, 1976, Shyam Benegal. [Image: Wikiwand]

The filmmaker is full of praises for Dr Kurien, the man behind Amul, and the pioneer of the movement which transformed India into the largest milk-producing country in the world.

“I had made a couple of documentaries for Dr Verghese Kurien, who redefined the story of milk production in the country,” he shares. “His intervention was incredible; he pioneered the milk producers’ co-operative movement, the first time something like this was being done on such a large scale.”

Dr. Kurien, Mr. Benegal relates, wanted very much for the story of how the milk co-operatives began, to be documented. “I knew Dr Kurien well, he was the boss of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. or GCMMF, and I had made two documentaries for him in the late 60’s, while I was still working for an advertising agency,” he explains. “He said he was very happy with them, but I realised that I was not. I felt that they were really preaching to the converted, they were being shown to people who already had co-operatives. We needed to reach out to the public at large, so that they could come to know about the largest, most successful co-operative movement in the world.”

Shyam Benegal (right) & Dr. Verghese Kurien (left). [Source: fakinghappinesscampaign.blogspot.com & plus.google.com]

Shyam Benegal (right) & Dr. Verghese Kurien (left). [Source: fakinghappinesscampaign.blogspot.com & plus.google.com]

“I was travelling all over Gujarat to capture the movement when I was working on the ‘Operation Flood’ documentaries,” he recalls. “I told Dr Kurien that I wanted to make a feature on the movement, based on what I’d witnessed over the course of my travels. He was all for it, and when it came to the matter of money to produce the film,  he came up with a suggestion that was so simple and marvellous, it was perfect.”

Dr. Kurien asked him how much money he would need, and when Mr. Benegal answered with a quote of Rs 10-12 lakhs (“Of course, it’s impossible to do that in today’s day and age,” he chuckles.), Dr Kurien reportedly said, “I have, at the moment, more than half a million farmers in Gujarat alone who are members of Amul Co-operative Societies.

“The milk farmers gather every morning and evening to sell their milk, and they are paid for the morning’s sales in the evening, and the evening’s sales, the next morning. Let me send a message to all the co-operative unions of Gujarat and ask them if the milk farmers would be willing, for just one morning, to accept Rs 2 less. They can then become producers of a feature film which tells their story. Why would they say no?”

Dr. Kurien’s proposal got a vote of approval from each and every one of those farmers, thanks to which the production of Manthan was made possible. Mr. Benegal pauses at this point to remark that while it’s all very well to make the film, there were a lot of other elements that required money as well – to make several prints, for distribution, publicity and for a theatrical release. There also needed to be an audience willing to pay money to see the film, in order to recover expenses.

“Dr Kurien made a call to a distributor and assured him that if he would release the film in theatres, he would personally see to it that he would have a full house at most shows,” Mr Benegal shares. “All the farmers came from their villages to see their own story on the big screen. It was incredible, the Times of India, Ahmedabad Edition, carried a whole story on this unique phenomenon – trucks and trucks of farmers with their families coming into cities such as Baroda, Ahmedabad, Mehsana… they were the first audiences of the film they’d helped produce.”

The film successfully covered its costs and made a small profit as well, telling their story far beyond their time. ‘Manthan’ was one of the few Indian films made which got distribution in different countries in South Africa, South America, Central America, as well as in China. Former PM Morarji Desai presented a copy of the film to the Soviet Union President at the time, and it was shown all over their country too. “These were the regions of the world which were curious about, and would benefit from, the creation of co-operatives,” Mr. Benegal explains.

To cap it all, Dr Kurien was asked to present this film at the United Nations in New York at the General Assembly. “He took me along, and I introduced the film and screened it in New York,” Mr Benegal smiles. “That’s the story of Manthan.”

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

It isn’t his only tryst with crowdfunding though. His second crowdfunding venture, Susman, was about handloom weavers. Funds were gathered for this, too, in a similar manner, by the different handloom co-operative unions all over the country. “Finally, in 1991, I made a film called Antarnaad, based on the Swadhyay movement, spearheaded by Pandurang Shastri Athavale,” Mr. Bengal explains.

“Crowdfunding is a very important means for Independent filmmakers, but a film cannot be self-indulgent,” he concludes. “There must be artistic work, or an attempt to create this, at any rate… and some social work, as well. Why else would people put money into it? Filmmakers have an obligation to return the money that they have been given, one way or another.”

Crowdfunding education on Ketto: An online revolution lifting burden from NGOs and individuals

education girl

Ever thought how different life would have been, had your parents not sent you to a school? We are definitely fortunate enough to have had a stable educational journey. But, not everyone is as lucky as the educated minority–as us! You wish life was that easy on those underprivileged, who are gifted with the same amount of brains, but are never pushed across the boundary, due to lack of funds.

That has spurred several charities and NGOs to take a notice of our youth’s living rawness. Though the landscape seems to be changing, but at a snail’s pace, you would agree. We need more, much more. Perhaps raising money from a large number of people usually in small increments, via the Internet might help?

Crowdfunding essentially. Just imagine the magnitude of impact it can possibly create if our population of 1.5 billion decide to come along to increase the literacy rate? (That massive number… Woah!)

Crowdfunding is for anyone and everyone

In this materialistic world, dreams are expensive. Especially the ones that involve education. Gone are those days when crowdfunding used to be an alien concept: to learn as well as to execute. With the advent of internet, it’s become much easier. Almost anyone and everyone can start a campaign on our website to raise funds in support of the marginalised of the society as well as for themselves.

We have already talked how crowdfunding – the new kid on the block is proving to be an effective tool. Remember Shweta Katti’s story? (A girl, born and raised in the red light area of Mumbai, was sent to the USA by raising funds for her education on our platform). There are more of such examples that have changed lives. Let it be your turn to start a campaign next.

How does Ketto help in the execution of the cool concept of crowdfunding?

Whether you are an NGO supporting education as your cause, or a student who needs funds to pay that pesky tuition fee, Ketto is the platform for what you’re looking for to fund everything from paper and crayons to tomorrow’s next big discovery.

When we say, crowdfunding is an easy and productive method to raise funds from a large number of mass, we mean it.

You ask, how? We give you the answer:

  • Crowdfunding helps you pay in-full for education by spreading the costs among numerous contributors all over the world (less stress)
  • Instead of graduating with thousands and lakhs of rupees of student debt, students can choose to use Ketto to fund college and graduate school. It completely slashes out bank loan as an option (relief, right?!)
  • It doesn’t cost a penny on Ketto, you can simply start your campaign by signing up on our website
  • It’s as easy as Facebook, no kidding! (If you still find it difficult, Team Ketto is there to help, don’t worry!)

India, as a developing country has seen movements like Teach for India taking our country by a storm in recent times. Just like TFI, there exists a massive number of NGOs which are striving hard to make a visible difference in the life of children living in rural areas.

Education is deemed to be the primary concern for our nation. As they say: Padhega India to Badhega India (Education is the key to India’s success). It’s time to cheer up, buck up and fire up your dream to go abroad for higher education, or give the underprivileged their right to education. It’s time you grab your key to tomorrow on Ketto.

Celebrating Children (Magic Bus, Nikhil Chinapa’s campaign, Akshayapatra)

Underprivileged children holding slates to ask for help towards their education

Since this month hosts Children’s Day (November 14th in India, November 20th everywhere else), we thought we would continue celebrating and supporting children. One way for us to do this via our blog post is to highlight all the cool things being done that aim to secure children’s fundamental rights. These also give YOU the opportunity to support children and do right by Children’s Day.

Educating through Sports

The delightfully-named NGO Magic Bus was established to provide wholesome education and life skills to children through sports and play. A brilliant stratagem to beat illiteracy and help transform the future of underprivileged children, we think. Magic Bus has been able to help 250,000 children so far and hopes to positively affect one million children’s lives by 2015! Want to be part of this incredible movement? Start a fundraiser for Magic Bus!

Girl-child Education

The one and only Nikhil Chinapa (yes, the very one who has worked with MTV and several music events) has been campaigning on Ketto in support of girl-child education. The campaign is raising funds for a cool programme called The Schooling Project by the Indu Jagmohan Toshniwal Charitable Foundation. The programme aims to provide holistic education and academic opportunities to 460 underprivileged girls. They are working towards giving these girls the opportunity to pursue their dreams, whether in professional sports, the creative arts (music included, but of course), environmental sciences…you get the picture!

If you choose to support this campaign, you are in for a special treat. Nikhil Chinapa has created some exclusive rewards to give to all those who contribute to his campaign. You can opt for tickets to his next music concert, or hang out with Nikhil in his DJ booth at the gig, or get a quick cash course in mixing, or have a post-event meal with him and shoot the breeze, or you could even have him perform at your birthday bash!! Check out his campaign page and choose your reward!

Ending Classroom Hunger

We are all aware of how malnutrition can impede every aspect of a child’s development. A hungry child would not be able to concentrate on academics. A malnourished child may well succumb to frequent illnesses and miss out on schooling completely.  This is the scenario NGO Akshayapatra is working on erasing for good. So far, student attendance has increased by around 11% thanks to their efforts. And a mere Rs. 750 is all they need to feed a child for an entire year. Imagine how many more children you could help if you fundraised! Get started here!

Want to start a campaign for an NGO of your choice?

 

Revolutionising Learning: Reniscience Education

reniscience education blog picThere are a lot of opinions regarding the standard of education in India and the efficiency of teaching methods in schools today. Reniscience Education is an education consulting firm that has its finger on this pulse and is attempting to revolutionise the Indian education system. They work with teachers, children and schools to bring highly engaging, self-directed learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.

“Reniscience Education LLP is an education consulting firm born out of a desire to promote learning that is empowering, joyful and relevant to the learner,” states Founding Partner Purvi Vora. “We believe that all teachers are capable of teaching in this manner, no matter what their constraints. Our goal is to encourage and support these efforts at every level – classroom, school and curriculum. By empowering, we mean practices that foster choice and voice, that free the learner from ONLY one way of knowing, that create an emotionally-safe culture, that support meaning-making, that allow learners to feel successful and bring a high level of engagement through the learning process.”

Reniscience Education was founded in 2011 by two veteran science educators – Purvi Vora and Sangita Kapadia – who are determined to take science education in India into the 21st century through every opportunity that comes their way.

The City as Lab conference (being crowdfunded on Ketto) is one such attempt to provide children from marginalized communities an opportunity to participate in authentic research about their city. In true Project-Based Learning fashion, students will generate their own research questions, collect and analyze data, write a research paper that will undergo blind review and then present it in front of an authentic audience of educators and scientists.

“We have followed three basic criteria in selecting students for our first City as Lab Research Conference,” explains Purvi. “They must be from 5th to 9th Std, they must be enrolled in a government school or an NGO-supported programme, and they must be willing to work in groups of two to four.”

City as Lab is a three-month long research project that culminates in a day-long event on Sept 20th at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai. Students are guided by their teachers in generating research questions relevant to their lives and their city, collecting quantitative or qualitative data, analyzing the data, understanding the implications of their research, writing a research paper, revising it post-feedback from the panel and finally presenting it to an authentic audience. Since the teachers are continually supported through training and on-going coaching, the hope is that they will be comfortable and enthusiastic enough about the pedagogy to continue using it in their classrooms post the conference.

“Teachers undergo an initial day-long training programme that takes them through the process they will subsequently take their students through,” Purvi clarifies. “They then regularly submit their students’ work to us and we provide immediate feedback and suggestions. In addition, our coaches also conduct demo lessons in their classrooms to model the process, as many teachers struggle with setting norms, facilitating group work, differentiating, pushing student thinking without imposing their own ideas, etc. We have a team of five coaches who are in charge of certain schools and are always available to answer questions that teachers may have. In addition, we have created detailed lesson plans for every step of the process. These lesson plans span about 40 hours of teaching time. These are made available for free via G drive or hard copies.”

On the subject of making learning more effective, she states, “We need to invest in our teachers’ on-going professional development. For too long, the focus has been on teaching and we need to start thinking about LEARNING. In the 21st century, learning no longer means completing the syllabus, covering content and doing well in standardized tests. If anything, this is a huge disservice to our children. Students need to be equipped with skills like critical thinking, information fluency, effective communication, creativity and a problem-solving attitude. The purpose of schooling should be to develop resourceful, ethical citizens who have a high degree of agency.  To do this effectively, we need teachers who meet the same criteria, and to achieve that we need professional development that is effective, backed by research and models best practices.”

Purvi continues, “We need to stop viewing professional development through a workshop model, which is often disruptive, discontinuous and expensive. Teacher education needs to be turned on its head, no matter the board (SSC, ISCSE, CBSE, IB…), to make it completely relevant, joyful and empowering for the teachers!”

On girl child education, the educator comments: “Even today, and especially in India, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics  (STEM) remain male-dominated fields, not because of a lack of talented women but more often than not, because of the expectations from family, peers and society about what it means to be a girl. When I told my parents I wanted to be an educator, their response was ‘that’s a great career for a woman.’ I fail to understand, to this date, what makes it so ‘appropriate’ for girls. As if our girls don’t face enough pressure already to look, dress, eat, walk and behave a certain way, the hidden messages in the everyday, ‘harmless’ things we say to them (sometimes with the best intentions) further limit their aspirations, passions and  potential contributions to the STEM fields.”

Having led a charter school in Mumbai for three years, admission time has always provided Purvi with first-hand evidence of the bias that parents have. “Daughters were happily enrolled in our school while the boys were sent to ‘better’ private schools that demanded fees,” she shares wryly.

But the current state of affairs has not dampened the educator’s spirit nor diluted her vision for the future. “Our vision is that we start viewing education as a serious profession that requires thorough training, expertise and on-going professional development; that it becomes a profession that attracts talented, intelligent young people who are passionate about teaching and learning; that we accept the fact that today’s children and tomorrow’s adults need to be critical thinkers, participative and empathetic citizens with a high sense of agency… and that all of this has to begin in our schools. Our vision is that schools become places where the true LEARNING is the focus for every child, and the PROCESS of learning is empowering, relevant and joyful for every stakeholder. Our attempt is to contribute to this change in our own way by partnering with organizations, schools and individuals who are ready for change.”

Are you ready for change? Come, be a part of it!

Nimaya Foundation: Transforming the Future

nimaya blog image

“‘Nimaya’ means opportunity,” shares Samyak Chakrabarty, co-founder of Nimaya Foundation.  He, along with his fellow co-founder, Ayesha Thapar, have been creating such opportunities for the children of Shree Ganesh Vidya Mandir Primary.

The foundation’s name “reflects our goals of empowering by providing opportunity,” he elucidates. Created in 2012, this Mumbai-based NGO aimed solely at empowering women “from under-resourced communities by enabling them to use their skills in entrepreneurial contexts and achieve economic independence.”

Dharavi, a paradoxical balance of under-resources but high efficiency of work, became Nimaya’s focus area.  “It is also a very enterprising community, thus, we felt that there is a lot of scope to uplift people here,” he adds.

The plight of the school was brought to their notice by a lawyer who incidentally had done his own primary schooling there. Once the goal was set – to ensure these bright Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe children continued to get an education – the founders began to build a solid framework for the Marathi-medium school to blossom in. “We engage with educationists who help us better develop the school’s curriculum and introduce new subjects that the children have not been exposed to.”

Samyak is also the Managing Trustee of Thincquisitive Foundation, an organization that undertakes projects to effect positive change. He associated it with Nimaya’s initiative to support the school. The result – an enhanced curriculum including subjects such as sports, arts, spoken English, music, dance, general knowledge and an introduction to technology – now allowing the children a holistic educational experience for the children.

Constantly striving to offer the children unique experiences, Nimaya has organized enjoyable, imaginative events such as the Harley Davidson Mumbai Riders Club Christmas party. This particular event was made possible thanks to a donor who is a member of the club.

With a small unit of four people devoting themselves to improving the quality of life of the women and children of this Dharavi community, the involvement is entirely hands-on. “We interact with these communities on a weekly basis,” he asserts. “We are actually launching our pilot programme this year,” he says, referring to the entrepreneurial programme for the women of the Dharavi community. “They are a group of women whose children attend Shree Ganesh Vidya Mandir. They are already showing a great deal of promise and are excited to kick-off their business training in September.”

These women were selected using specific criteria. “They had to be below a certain income bracket, have a desire to start their own business, know basic reading/writing/mathematics and be able to commit to a year’s worth of training and full-time work,” Samyak elucidates. “The current pilot project features 8 women who want to learn tailoring so they can someday launch their own brand of clothes. They are from a low-income background, have two-three children on average and are very enterprising. They are Marathi-speaking and are eager to contribute to their household incomes and further their children’s educations.”

The mentoring programme is set in place. “We have two tailors who have been working in the social space, teaching tailoring to impoverished adolescents for 22 years. They will be training our group of women. We also have a business trainer, who is a fluent Marathi speaker, and experienced with working with rural women. They will be teaching them the basics of starting a business.”

The programme is three months long, with 2 hours of training 5 days a week. “This will alternate between basic stitching techniques and embroidery. One day a week, they will be taught business basics; this includes book-keeping, budgeting, etiquette training for client meetings and idea-generation,” he lists.

“We plan to recognize these communities’ potential by building upon their skills and helping them break free from their current socio-economic situations,” he concludes.

We wish Nimaya Foundation and its beneficiaries the very best through their on-going campaign on Ketto, and for the future. And, though we repeat ourselves – may their tribe increase!

Seeds of Change

4. Seeds of ChangeA lot has been said and quoted by influential figures and the government as well. A lot has been promised and vouched for. However, the laws and measures that are put out by the government seem fair on paper. It’s easy to believe that things are rosy. But the fact is to the contrary – the implementation of the words is yet to be had..

There are loopholes in every system. Some can be filled out while some are smeared out but to what extent are we as a public willing to forgo such mistakes? A lot of this leads to discussions and debates while a very few lead to actions. This very act of bringing about a change in society was brought out by a lady named Beena Rao. A woman who is a staunch believer in the bringing about of change in the lives of the underprivileged, she transformed her vision into reality.

She started out by beginning a free coaching institute for slum children where the turnout was more than 1,200 students wanting to learn and attend these classes. She realized that in spite of the introduction of RTE’s and educational schemes, there still remained a huge dropout from schools. To fix this, she started her own non-profit organization that employs over 34 volunteers across Surat, Gujarat.

She simply states, “My satisfaction is immeasurable! It’s wonderful to see positive change in these children.” All of her hard work was done voluntarily just on the basis of a vision she wished to follow. Her strong determination has not only led to bringing her personal satisfaction and sense of achievement, but it has also led to the education of over 5,000 underprivileged children. All of them waiting to learn and grow.

Reinvention At Its Best

4The shaping of our mind occurs at an early age. It is the initial years of schooling that mould us – in fact, more than mould us. However, with the increase in information technology over the years, the charm and essence of traditional forms have lost its entities. For example – the art of storytelling.

Vikram Sridhar is a young, educated man with a passion and love for storytelling. He started teaching little children by narrating stories. These stories weren’t just from a novel or a fable, these were stories woven around wildlife conservation and the environment. Instead of just expanding the mind of the students about another world, Vikram takes an initiative in building the process of social conscience among children at an early age.

The reason he does this is because he says, ‘Children catch things very fast and if it is interesting, they will definitely remember it for a long time’. Going by this, he uses his stories to not just share knowledge but shape their thoughts and draw them into becoming socially aware and proactive individuals.

Weaving captivating stories could be anyone’s forte but to thread them into moral science lessons that can be enjoyed by the young minds is a genius idea. He believes that people need to connect more and break free from gadgets. To concentrate and preserve the environment, we need to do more than just reading (and subsequently forgetting)!

You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Be Generous

1. Philani DladlaPhilani Dladla is proof that it doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference.

You would probably never peg the homeless 24-year-old as a serious bookworm if you saw him on the streets of Johannesburg. But Dladla loves books, and sells them to make his humble income.

Dladla, dubbed the “pavement bookworm” by South African filmmaker Tebogo Malope, reviews his books and even discusses authors with passers-by, holding impromptu book club sessions throughout the day.

Although Dladla earns money by selling books to adults, his real passion is giving them to children for free. For Dladla, books saved his life. Once a drug addict, his passion of diving into stories is what brought him out of that life. Now, he hopes that passion rubs off on others, especially the kids he interacts with daily.

“Reading is not harmful. There’s no such thing as harmful knowledge. It is only going to make you a better person,” Dladla said. Dladla’s life is a testament that you don’t have to have money to be generous.

He wrote on his Facebook page, “You don’t have to be rich to change the world. Start with the little that you have. If you inspire one person you’ve already changed the world.”

Truer words have never been spoken.