Heena awaits her turn in the line. A little girl in a municipal school in the city, she waits as her teacher distributes something special at the end of the class. When she is handed a green package tied with a red ribbon, she unveils it to find a skipping rope. She looks back up at the teacher with the most heartwarming smile ever. At seven, this is Heena’s first toy.
Toy Bank, the organisation responsible for spreading that smile, has been at it since the past nine years. Toys, collected through drives in corporate offices and schools, are segregated according to age group and then gift-wrapped and distributed among children.
Founder and CEO, Shweta Chari, says, “A toy shapes the psyche of a child, so utmost care is taken to give only unbiased and morally correct toys to children. It is amazing to see how an inanimate object can bring about a change in a child’s life. It makes me immensely happy.”
How about a toy that is living and breathing, just waiting to hug you when you reach home? Meet Taronish Bulsara and Ruchi Nadkarni, founders of World For All, an organisation that helps foster and adopt orphaned and stray animals from the city’s streets.
Bulsara says, “Infant animals, disabled strays, and abandoned pets cannot survive on the streets of Mumbai and need to be placed with caring families in loving homes.
This is where our work begins.” Their work involves sensitising the community about adopting a stray, rescuing them and giving medical aid. They work to promote Indian breed dogs and cats instead of the popular foreign breeds.
Adopting a green habit too can be an innovative way to do your bit for the Joy Of Giving Week and what better way than to start this at home. A group of four women came together after having met through their children’s school and discovering their common passion for the environment.
Monisha Narke, Malavika Gadiyar, Shejal Kshirsagar, and Smita Shirodkar are the team behind RUR: Are You Reducing, Reusing, Recycling. This organisation conducts workshops and seminars at communities and schools sensitising people about garbage separation and recycling at source.
“In our homes, we can use simple methods of composting wet garbage in pots. In some schools, younger kids have fruit breaks wherein we get them to collect fruit peels in small pots and show them how this can be converted to compost for plants. Most of the children are intrigued by this concept and make their parents more conscious towards it,” says Narke.
Another important concept about quality education is being propagated by Muktangan, a set of schools and teacher training centres set up across the city for quality education for the under-privileged children. Seeing that overcrowded city schools and under-resourced teachers do not make for a conducive learning environment, Elizabeth Mehta, an educationist with decades of experience in the field, founded Muktangan.
Their recent initiative called Sing to Grow. With the help of volunteer and singer, song writer Ayush Man Shrestha, they are creating a series of educational song writing and composition workshops for faculty members, so that the teachers can use it to enhance learning, instill values and teach life skills.
Do your bit
If this inspires you to volunteer for a cause you believe in, log on to Project Heena, an online startup connecting professionals with a specific skillset, willing to donate their time to an organisation that needs their services. “All of us want to do something for the society but there is a huge gap between thinkers and doers.
We do not get the right opportunities to contribute in a convenient way. This is where Project Heena bridges the gap,” says founder, Himanshu Chanda. While creating your profile on the website you can highlight what and how you would like to contribute. For NGOs it is a convenient way to get more volunteers and build social credibility with their engagement.
Professionals get a chance to do their bit and also share it with the world as part of their social karma on their profile, thus bringing more transparency into the system and higher engagement. Chanda adds, “We are now trying to expand our horizon and reach to as many NGOs, professionals and companies and provide a one stop solution for change to the society.”
Like Chanda, if you have a vision to bring about a positive change towards society, approaching organisations like UnLtd, which is an incubator for startups in the social entrepreneurial space. UnLtd India helps people with innovative ideas for a better society turn their ideas into action. They select two groups of inspiring social entrepreneurs to invest in each year and provide them mentoring and financial support.
Organisations benefiting from UnLtd India’s support include Swaradhar, which builds the dignity and livelihoods of beggar musicians by organising them into an orchestra, and Urmi, which helps children with development disabilities to get a quality education.
Like Swami Vivekananda said, “Take one idea, make that one idea your life,” the NGOs, social entrepreneurs and organisations seem to be following this motto to the T to bring joy to everyone in the city.