“‘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!