Orphanage, Reverse Osmosis Plants, Online Campaigns, Akshaya’s Health On Wheels, Awareness Events, Fund raisers, Seminars, Sale of Pochampalli Sarees, Volunteering @ the ground, the Sandy Cleanup – what’s common amongst all this ? Well all of them were projects which either were started and/or contributed to or all of us played an important role in it’s completion in the year 2012. To all those who were directly or indirectly involved, here is a quick run down of the projects
- The Orphanage in Warangal
- the 2 Reverse Osmosis plants – one in Nalagonda and the other one in Krishna district
- the Akshaya Health on Wheels
These were all time bound fund raisers where we had to raise money before a certain time limit. The fund raisers were nothing less than a roller coaster ride. During the initial phases of the fund raising efforts, there is always a good response but then it’s starts to go down a bit. And that’s when friends and their friends kicked in and sort off pulled things together.
Each of the fund raisers threw a different challenge but once we met these challenges, we learnt something from the whole experience. A few lessons I learnt
- Maintain constant communication with the donors updating them with the progress in every step
- Pictures are a great way to communicate
- Small or big, the amounts don’t necessarily matter. What matters the number of people who donate. It’s better to find 100 people to donate $10 than one person donating $1000
- Any lapses or any short comings must be dealt with immediate urgency and communicated with both the beneficiary and the donor
- Last but not the least, there is so much good around us, that we all come together, then many such projects can see the day light
Will share the latest pictures of all these projects soon
Of course not all of them were successful projects. The orphanage at Araku for e.g. didn’t quite take off. I realized the short comings but due to some time constraints and missed opportunities not able to correct them. But the lessons learnt were equally important
- I thought the presentation and content of the flyers used for the clothes drive didn’t really connect
- Lack of a contact at the ground level who could do the leg work. Although the care taker was there, his phone reception was not that great since he was @ Araku most of the times.
- Help for MAA society: I did prepare some good material however there was a problem with making a connection with my friends. This project was meant to help MAA society that was operating in the villages of the Chattisgarh.
- Echoes of India’s Rural Clinic
The Online Campaigns:
- Chase giving campaign for Akshaya
- Online voting for Pushpa
This was the first time for such online campaigns. The first one was quite pulsating and very intense. There were a large number of organizations competing and the standings of the organizations were changing real time. Although the initial response from creating a facebook event was great, it wasn’t enough to keep Akshaya in the race till the end. And that’s where things got really exciting. We came up with small targets of getting for e.g. 500 votes in 5 hours and further simplified it by saying 50 people get 10 votes each, then the job will be done. This actually started working. And of course, the Akshaya volunteers pushing everyone hard to get the voting. Again, all the friends, their friends and their friends, who genuinely believed in helping Akshaya came together as one team and just by the click of a button, we helped Akshaya raise $10,000.
The online voting for Pushpa, the CNN Hero, also started as a facebook event. As expected the initial response was good, but pretty soon the enthusiasm died because the voting allowed each individual to vote 10 times a day for every single day until the end of the voting. This actually turned away lot of potential voters, since no one would like to repeat such mundane tasks. Despite this, there were a lot of them who silently voted, some started voting for their own CNN hero’es. All in all we did our best. The icing on the cake was when Pushpa won the CNN Hero award, this was very rewarding, since we all genuinely wanted the kids to have a normal childhood out in the playgrounds and not behind the bars.
Sale of Pochampalli Sarees:
Pochampalli project is now almost 2 years old and is going great guns. The highlight of this project was when my parents got involved and helped sell almost 40 sarees over the weekend. This not only gave the much needed impetus to the activity it also gave the weavers the confidence that this is another marketing opportunity that can be explored, taking them one step closer to eliminating the middle men
The Weekend Seminar @ princeton: The AID event to host P Sainath for 2 days was a real delight. My father was present at this seminar on Day I and when I asked him how he felt about the topics and discussions, he said, he had never known this part of India – marginalized and the discriminated India and he didn’t realize how bad the situation was. This summed up the whole intent of this weekend retreat.
I might not have captured everything but this is simply to show how we all came together as a team and achieve what we could otherwise wouldn’t have.
Upcoming projects for 2013
While this is mostly a moving target, there are a few projects that were sort of started in late 2012 but spilled over to the next year due to some logistical issues
- Automation and Standardization of the database for the Sambhavana Clinic: The project at a high level involves porting the current database to a latest version of oracle or any open source reliable database and provide good documentation. It involves automation of certain reports that are very useful for the doctors in their day to day operations
- Taking marketing of Pochampalli Sarees to the next level
- ZoSH: Zero Sexual Harassment. Taking the message of ZoSH to every single individual be it in the educational institutions or to the public and private offices. This does seem a bit ambitious, but i believe it’s a matter of connecting with the right people at the right time and things can be taken forward
- Gun Control Laws: While this was started with calling the local senators, signing petitions etc, this by no means enough. This was only a way to create awareness about the situation and how individually we could help contribute to bring the change. Again, collaborating with like minded people is the key to scale our efforts.
- RTI Campaign
- Help for MAA Society: This is a project that I should take it up more seriously and try to garner support for this.
And of course NRI Samay – the weekend dose of community radio and the awesome team ! This i think is not a project, it’s more of a habit, a very good habit. To go in search of individuals/organizations who have made great contributions to the society and the community they live in.
This is what’s in pipeline, but like i said, this is a moving target. And we need to do this as our responsibility not as charity. Hope 2013 can bring all of us again together and make us more stronger as a team and achieve greater things.
On a personal front every single interaction with friends and their friends, every single organization, every single show on NRI Samay, every little thing with my family, my 2 kids had something to offer, had something to teach, had something to share.