Shivam

Location: Delhi

Assigned a Mentor: No

Being sponsored for: School Fees

Being sponsored since: July 2016

Shivam may be only eight years old but his childhood has been a difficult one. He lost both his parents three years ago, within a short span of time to different ailments. He is currently living with his maternal grandmother and her main source of income is a small grocery store she runs from their one room house. Her earnings are meagre and variable from one month to the next making it difficult to afford Shivam’s school fees. We can help ensure Shivam continues to regularly attend school and receive an uninterrupted education.

Piyush Verma

Location: Delhi

Assigned a Mentor: No

Being sponsored for: School Fees

Being sponsored since: July 2016

Piyush is the older of two brothers and lives in a joint family of ten members. His father works as a transport laborer and his mother works in a factory. Between the two of them they earn approximately INR 12,000 a month but after fulfilling their obligations towards the rest of the family, they are struggling to pay their own children’s school fees. Piyush is 6 and is currently in class one at school. Your contribution to his school fees will enable his parents to put both their children through school.

Rani Kumari

Location: Delhi

Assigned a Mentor: No

Being sponsored for: School Fees and Travel Allowance for commuting to school

Being sponsored since: July 2016

Rani͛s family could be a classic case study to highlight some of the major problems families face in when trying to escape the clutches of poverty. Theirs is a family of 5 kids. The oldest one dropped out of school after failing his exams in Class 10, and now cannot find sustainable livelihood. The father won͛t let the mother work, because ͚what will society say if the woman of the house goes out to work?͛

So what if they had to move miles away from the school to find a cheaper place to stay and Rani cannot afford the daily commute to school? Or if she had to take up Home Science instead of Maths, which she was so keen to study, because tuitions were too expensive? Rani is feisty though – she wants to get trained in computers and break the norm in her family by being the first girl to go work outside the house. And we want to help her do just that.

Ishika

Location: Delhi

Assigned a Mentor: No

Being sponsored for: School Fees

Being sponsored since: July 2016

Ishika is four years old and the youngest of three siblings. A long pending court case for their house drove her father into depression and drinking. He subsequently fell sick and passed away two years ago. Her mother took to working as a maid and the family got displaced. Ishika and her older sister live with their Father’s sister while her brother lives with their Mother’s sister because their mother cannot afford to meet all their living expenses with her salary. We can help ease her burden by ensuring she does not have to worry about Ishika’s education.

A new academic year is about to start

Milaap recently visited the slum where we are working with the kids (smiling in the picture below!) for a little over 6 months now. Based on their assessment of the work we are doing, we were covered by the BetterIndia blog – http://www.thebetterindia.com/56077/gandhi-fellows-slum-kids-back-to-school-mumbai-kandivali/

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Last year we ensured 8 kids went back to school despite the event of a fire razing down their entire slum. We are still struggling with 2 of the other kids, since their family life is in dire straits. But we cannot let our potential failure with 2 kids hold us back  when there are so many others to reach out to.

This year, as the new academic year starts, we are narrowing down on 15 more kids – 10 in Delhi and 5 in Mumbai.
In addition to the funds we have from our first round of collection, we are trying to raise Rs 35,000 more, as fees for these new kids varies from Rs 2000 per month to Rs 5000 per year.

Help us raise the fund and send more kids back to school! Our fundraiser on Milaap is at https://milaap.org/campaigns/urjayati

Newsletter 1 – 2015

Dear Donors, Mentors, Volunteers, Helpful People and Interested-Parties-who-wanted-to-be-kept-in-the-loop

This is Urjayati’s first ‘official update’ to all of you – but we will keep it friendly and informal with lot of emoticons thrown in 🙂

What started out as a project in September 2015 by three Gandhi Fellows (Google, if you don’t already know about our Fellowship!) is now on its way to being registered as an NGO. We are aware of the negative connotations attached to the N-word, and for the longest time we were debating whether or not to register at all. But we assure you that our value systems are intact and the main reason we are registering is to ensure sustainability of this initiative.

The long and short of it is that Urjayati is a funding-and-mentoring initiative to help children and young adults to get an education by removing any financial or motivational impediment that gets in the way.

And we could not have done whatever little we have done so far without the support we have been receiving from all of you.

From the time we went live in the end of November 2015, we have 10 kids under our wings, over 40 donors who have helped us to send them back to school, 7 mentors who are helping us ensure that the kids don’t drop out again, and so many other people who have come forward to help us in unimaginable ways – right from calling us up to hand over the money from their monthly raddi sale at home, to helping us organize raddi collection drives, to hand-holding us through regulatory, technological and strategic issues.
(For more colorful details, you will have to check out the “Events and Updates” and “We Thank” pages on our website www.urjayati.org)

Thanks to all the donors, we have been able to raise enough funds to support these 10 kids till the end of this academic year, and take on a few more. We are in the process of profiling other kids in need of help, and hopefully by the time we send our next update email to all of you, we will be able to put an exact number, faces and stories on our “Know the Children” page on the website.

Soon after we went live, our initiative and concept caught the attention of DNA newspaper in Mumbai and NDTV 24×7 (you can find the links to the article and the video feature in our email signature). And then something totally unexpected happened.

Close on the heels of the NDTV coverage of Urjayati, the very slum where the story was shot – and where 8 of our current kids live – burnt down to the ground due to a fire.
The same reporter who covered the Urjayati story went back to the slum to cover the fire. And she was the first of a line of people who extended a helping hand to the Urjayati kids and their families, by updating us about the situation on the ground and where the families could go to get access to emergency resources.

We ran to the site that night with immediate sustenance that the families said they needed – like blankets and dry food. From the next day, we were overwhelmed by the gesture of the mentors. While the three of us had to leave for rural Rajasthan for work, the mentors visited ‘their families’ in the slum with food, water, medicines, shoes, clothes, bags, utensils, storage boxes etc. – all of their own accord – to help the Urjayati families get back up on their feet. We cannot thank the mentors enough for this.

For over a month, the people of the slum lived with makeshift houses made with plastic and saris to shield themselves against cold winds. We met with the local corporator – a very genuine lady – to understand the rehabilitation process. We couldn’t expect the kids to go back to school without a roof over their heads. Very recently though, the local government handed out a very practical compensation package to cover the damages. Within three weeks of the fire, the Urjayati kids started going back to school. And now houses are being rebuilt and life is getting back to normal.

We utilized 3% of all your donations to provide immediate relief to the Urjayati families on the night of the fire. So if you donated Rs 1000, Rs 30 from your donation was used to ensure the kids and their families don’t freeze to death on the elevated terrain where their houses once stood.

4% of the donations have been used to cover operational costs. We try to cover as much of our operational costs from the raddi collection drives as we can, because we know that donors who personally donate feel much better about their money being used directly for the child’s education than for our pamphlet printing and tech support expenses. But then again, even something like marketing pamphlets for organizing the raddi sale from where we can recover our operational expenses costs money, hence the nominal 4% from the personal donations. We spend frugally. 🙂

Hope this email helps to answer a lot of the ‘what’s up with Urjayati’ questions we have been getting. Every couple of months we will touch base with all of you via a newsletter like this.

Do write back to us if you have any queries or thoughts.

Recovering from the fire in the slum

Close on the heels of the NDTV coverage of Urjayati, the very slum where the story was shot – and where 8 of our current kids live -burnt down to the ground due to a fire.

The same reporter who covered the Urjayati story, Ms. Ankita Sinha went back to the slum to cover the fire. And she was the first of a line of people who extended a helping hand to the Urjayati kids and their families, by updating us about the situation on the ground and where the families could go to get access to emergency resources.

We ran to the site that night with immediate sustenance that the families said they needed – like blankets and dry food. From the next day, we were overwhelmed by the gesture of the mentors. They visited ‘their families’ in the slum with food, water, medicines, shoes, clothes, bags, utensils, storage boxes etc. – all of their own accord – to help the Urjayati families get back up on their feet.

For over a month, the people of the slum lived with makeshift houses made with plastic and saris to shield themselves against cold winds.

As of now though, the children have started going back to school. And houses are being rebuilt and life is getting back to normal.

Fire - before and after

Art of Living meditation camp for the slum kids

In October 2015, we organized an Art of Living meditation camp for the kids of the IMG_3157
Damunagar slum community near Kandivali, Mumbai. It was to help kids increase their levels of concentration, be more positive in daily life, and to decrease aggression in the kids.

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Two very dedicated Art of Living volunteers – Ms. Deepali and Ms. Savita – very sportingly scaled the height at which the slum is situated for a whole week, so that they could conduct these sessions.