Aasra Trust – Sending Children to School with Dignity

It is not just about sending children to school, but sending them to school with dignity.

 

With this motto, Aasraa’s outreach program has successfully changed the lives of 327 children living and attending school in Dehradun’s slum areas. The Aasraa Trust was established as a social work trust focusing on education of underprivileged children in India. The children they work with, come from extremely impoverished backgrounds and are mostly rag pickers, beggars, addicts, runaways and orphans. Aasraa works towards empowering street and slum children through education, vocational training, nutrition, medical care, and providing shelter homes.

 

A lot of slum students were found to drop out of Aasra’s outreach program between the months of November to February in Dehradun. After some investigation, it was found that the little children were unable to stand the biting cold during those months. Since majority of these children came from low income families, their parents could not afford appropriate school uniform for the winter months, which was consequently affecting their learning and education program. Winters in Dehradun can be harsh, and the lack of winter school uniform did not help the situation.

 

The good people at Aasra were not about to let a slight weather condition meddle with the education of these children. In order for the children to continue going to school, without distressing their families, the trust decided to run a campaign on Impact Guru, and raise funds to provide each of them a set of winter uniform. The motive behind this campaign was to ensure that these students felt confident in going to school, and fit in with the rest of their peers. A set of winter uniform would include two full-sleeved shirts, two-worsted trousers/skirt, a sweater, a blazer, a cap, 2 pairs of socks, and 2 thermals.

 

Their target through the crowdfunding campaign via Impact Guru was to raise INR 2,00,000, but their story won the support of many, and the campaign achieved way beyond their target. Aasraa raised INR 4,20,407 within 36 days, as against their initial goal of INR 2,00,000.

 

So what was the secret behind their fundraiser’s success?

 

Use of audio-visuals

 

The team at Aasraa created a wonderful video explaining the plight of these children from financially weak homes, and the need for them to have adequate warm clothing for their health, as well as education.

 

Emotionally inviting campaign title

The title of the campaign –  ‘A sweater for Sonu’, itself, was enough to draw the attention of sympathizers, for it added a personal touch, giving us a glimpse into the lives of these amazing children.

 

Powerful narrative through their campaign story with honest goals

Their campaign story was a strong narrative about the problem and why it needed to be addressed. Moreover, it concluded with a proper break up of how the funds received through the crowdfunding campaign would be utilized. Their clear and honest goals instilled faith in the donors that their contributions would surely be put to good use.

 

Photographs of the children in school

Through their pictures of the outreach program, the donors were able to put a face to the children whose lives they would positively be impacting.

 

Proactive social media promotions

Additionally, Aasraa, along with our team at Impact Guru, were actively promoting their campaign in different circles, with the help of email marketing, and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Google+, and LinkedIn.

 

It surely did not take magic to put a smile on these children’s faces. All it took was careful planning and stellar execution by Aasraa and Impact Guru’s team. So what are you waiting for? Make sure that you tick mark all the above-mentioned points for your own fundraisers and make them stand out while making them successful.

 

Also, Impact Guru has recently entered into an exclusive partnership with Global Giving, which allows international donors in UK and USA to contribute towards campaigns on their platform. The reason being that the pattern of foreign donations in India has highlighted child welfare, education, rural development, and public health, as the categories with the most amount of foreign funding. This is a great opportunity for your NGO to raise money from donors in India as well as abroad!

 

Hurry! Make your fundraiser LIVE on Impact Guru today!

Can Crowdfunding be the answer to India’s Education Inequity?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”

– Benjamin Franklin

 

1.4 million schools, 227 million students, and 36,000 higher education institutions – the enormity of the Indian Education System stems from many such statistics. With 2020 being seen as the year when our country will have the highest population in the working age group, it is becoming imperative that these numbers start showing greater and real results.

 

Though there has been a continuous push towards improving the state of education in the country, the often non-conducive social environment and the lack of essential resources like skilled teachers, proper infrastructure and the money to run schools, present a constant roadblock in the process.

 

There is a need to bring a sea change in India’s education system, and even though crowdfunding alone will not turn around the scenario, it can definitely benefit the education sector in many ways.

 

Funds to support education for one and all

It may sound too good to be true, but there are people and organizations out there who would support a promising talent when they see one. This charitable approach can go a long way in easing aspiring students off the burden of education loans to pay their tuition fees.

The rising popularity of online fundraising platforms in India is garnering huge support from the NGO sector as well. The cash-strapped schools and the NGOs working with them often face huge obstacles in arranging funds for their students, but crowdfunding in India is changing the education scenario in many ways.

 

Building the infrastructure and bringing in resources

A classroom with benches and a blackboard, toilet blocks, water supply and a playground, are basic infrastructural needs of children going to school. There is also the pressing issue of a poor teacher to student ratio in many parts of our country. Though there are constant efforts of improving the study environment for as many students, in as many places as possible, there is always room for more helping hands.

In many cases, NGOs, teachers, school administration and even students have taken to crowdfunding to solve the problems that need immediate attention or to improve their coursework by upgrading the teaching modules. We can, as a crowd, make quality education a reality for a large number of young minds.

 

Supporting innovative ideas

It makes a huge difference when an individual is accountable to many people for their beginning and success. Through crowdfunding, if a student with an innovative idea and an execution plan gets a backer, it can help them build a more responsible and concrete approach towards putting their ideas into action.

 

Backing varied educational pursuits

With the growing exposure to career fields earlier unknown, there is a rise in the number of students taking up different study courses and landing up with a job that has them traveling the world or setting up their own business. Even though there are many takers for the various unconventional courses, securing an education loan to study them is still difficult. As donors, we can support a sportsperson, a filmmaker, a travel enthusiast or a social activist and give direction to a budding mind.

 

Crowdfunding in India is still in its nascent stage but online fundraising is steadily gaining ground. In the context of revolutionizing the Indian education sector, crowdfunding opens up the possibility of initiating a mass movement and thus, making education everyone’s business.

“Learning gives creativity,

Creativity leads to thinking,

Thinking provides knowledge,

Knowledge makes you great”

– Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Become a part of the education movement today!

Child Sexual Abuse: What You Can Do To Protect Your Child

Photo credit: Vinoth Chandar

Child sexual abuse has always been shrouded in secrecy. In an age where we cringe on the idea of providing sex education in schools or having “the talk” with our children, educating them about abuse is probably the last on our list. It is much easier to pretend that it doesn’t and cannot happen to our children. But, statistics say otherwise. According to a government-funded report along with UNICEF and an NGO named Prayas, there’s a 53% chance that your child may have or still might be facing some kind of physical or sexual abuse. And, there’s a 50% chance that the abuser might be someone your child or you know well.

That a large number of these cases go unreported is not surprising to anybody. At one point, we all have told our children that the neighbour that pulls their cheeks is only trying to show love or the uncle to makes them sit on his lap is only trying to play with them. While we can’t treat everyone around us as a potential offender, the problem is that we tend to sometimes miss obvious signs of abuse.  And, the bigger problem is that we ask our kids to ignore them too or worse, treat it as love or care.

Child Line India has been relentlessly working towards spreading awareness in schools around Bombay, conducting workshops and educating the children and parents on safe touch, unsafe touch and various other measures to combat child sexual abuse.

Reporting or recognising abuse is the first step to combatting it and thus, here are some measures you, as a parent, can take to make sure your child is safe.

1)Have “the talk”

Awareness is crucial. Children who face abuse are often afraid of telling or don’t know how to describe it. Educate your child about what kind of behaviour is ok and what is not. Make them aware of who can touch them, especially their private parts – mostly the mother or the nanny should be the only ones. Tell them about safe touch and unsafe touch, and encourage them to come tell you if they ever feel uncomfortable around anyone. Here are some Komal videos by ChildLine India that you could show your children to make them aware.

2) Start Early

Photo credit: Son of Groucho

Most parents feel their children are too young to understand abuse. But, it is also true that younger children are more vulnerable. Child Line instructor, Anupama Kotiankar suggests you show the videos to children who are at least 4-6 years old. But, teaching them good touch and bad touch should begin earlier. “The videos aren’t enough and we can’t expect young children to comprehend them completely. Parents should also have a one-on-one with their children post the videos,” recommends Anupama.

3) Use Real Life Instances

Pose hypothetical real life situations and quiz the child about whether the behaviour is safe/correct or not. Give your child instances like, what if the bus driver or watchman offers to take you somewhere without informing the parent or the teacher, is that a safe situation? Should you go? Gauge your child’s response and teach them what to do if such situations arise. “Keep repeating this exercise with the child at intervals. Children tend to forget easily and so a constant reminder to be aware and alert is important,” says Anupama.

4) Keep No Secrets

Be an active part of your child’s day to day life in a way that they don’t hide anything from you. Always be available and understanding and keep asking the child to share. Most abusers often get away because they threaten the child or give an incentive to the child like a chocolate or a toy, and ask them to not share the incident with their parents. “Always teach the child that when someone tells them not to share something with their parent, that’s when they should definitely tell you,” advises Anupama. “Teach them, it is wrong to hide anything from the parents. Be your child’s confidant.”

5) Trust Their Instincts

We often tend to dismiss our children’s complaints about a certain acquaintance or family member making them uncomfortable. But, children have good instincts while picking who they can and cannot trust. If the child is shy, isn’t talking or isn’t willing to go near a family member or a friend, don’t force them. Let them take their own time to open up to new people. Be receptive and encouraging when they come and share things with you about people they find strange. “Praise them for sharing things with you. Once when my daughter was unwell my maid touched her stomach and neck to check for temperature. My daughter immediately came up to me and asked if it was safe. After reassuring her that it was indeed ok, I praised her for sharing it with me. This ensures that your child keeps sharing instances like these with you,” shares Anupama.

6) Keep your trust circle small

This might sound disheartening but keep a check on who interacts with your child and how – even your closest family members, neighbours or friends. Be cautious about leaving your child with a hired help or a day-care centre. Do thorough background checks before you hire or enrol your child. You can’t be suspicious of everyone but you must be aware.

7) Report

More than half of the cases go unreported. It becomes especially difficult to report if the offender is a relative or a friend. But, for the safety and well-being of your child, we encourage you to take appropriate action. You can call Child Line India’s 24×7 helpline 1098 to report cases, ask for assistance to help a child you may know and get legal help.

 

Child Line India is raising funds to spread awareness in schools around Bombay and Bangalore to fight child sexual abuse. You can contribute to their fundraiser here.