Crowdfunding: Helping You Save Lives

Have you ever come across the term ‘devadasi’? It’s a Hindi word which literally translates to ‘servant of god’. In early days, select girls, as young as 5, were chosen to “marry” the temple goddess. This meant the girls couldn’t marry anybody else and had to serve the temple all their lives. In time, powerful men started misusing them for their carnal pleasures and these girls, who were revered as god’s servants, were branded prostitutes. Over the years many women and girls have been sold as devadasis (sex slaves) for money. Since the 80’s, the practice has been banned in India. But when a country’s population is over a billion, many malpractices go undetected, especially in remote villages.

Welcome to Kappalaguddi. A small hamlet in the district of Belgaum in north Karnataka. Our story is of a seamstress named Mahananda. When she was 16 years of age, Mahananda’s mother fell seriously ill and she had no money for treatment. So she turned to her uncles for aid. As any good relative would, they paid for her mother’s treatment. But what happened next was both shocking and disturbing. In order to recoup the money, her uncles sold Mahananda as a devadasi.

Powerless and friendless, Mahananda decided to do her master’s biddings. A few months later she fell really ill and was unable to work. Reports from the hospital she visited declared that she was with child. The Pregnant woman begged for her child’s life and she was set free by her owner.

It was after this that life’s trial started for Mahananda. To the rest of the world she was a prostitute, a whore. This made it difficult for her to find a job, and feed herself and her child. It was during this period that she met Sitava. A former devadasi and an activist who helps women like herself get back on their feet.

Sitava aided Mahananda in securing a micro-loan from an online crowdfunding site which helped set up her own sewing business. Today Mahananda is able to provide a better life and education to her children.

This is the story of just one such person who has been able to make a better living through crowdfunding. These days, it is difficult for people from less privileged backgrounds to secure a loan, even from government run banks. Crowdfunding has a come as boon to many of them. The loans these platforms provide are collateral free and have low interest. It is aimed at eradicating poverty completely from this country. Crowdsourcing is a gift of giving. Companies like Milaap, Rang De and Faircent are among such organizations which are helping develop India, one step at a time.


5 Social Organizations Working for Children’s Education and Empowerment

I find it funny that throughout the world protecting children still seems to be of a very high priority. Don’t get me wrong! I don’t hold anything against protection for children. What I’m trying to say is, many of us think humans are at the peak of evolution. That we can do no wrong. If that were true, then kids shouldn’t fear anything right? Education, food and health should be essential amenities rather than things of luxury. But are they? Sadly the answer is no. This means, people who believe that they are great, that humans are at the zenith of everything, should take a step back and look around them.

In many developing nations, especially worn-torn countries, children are very vulnerable and are exploited. Even a rapidly progressing nation like India is no stranger to this problem. Fortunately, many social entrepreneurs have understood the persisting issues and have taken initiatives to protect underprivileged children. We are going to look at some of these organizations who are going all-out to make sure children lead good lives.

Kailash Satyarthi Foundation

Established by noble peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi, the mission of the foundation is to create a child-friendly world. Their motto is, “Let every child be free to be a child.” They aim to influence governments and businesses to take necessary steps against child abuse including trafficking, slavery, labour and child marriages. They aim to develop and empower children worldwide by providing quality education. The foundation is Mr. Satyrathi’s answer to the question – What can one man possible do? Not a lot, but he can and did start a revolution. Change always starts with one person. After all, its tiny drops that make up an entire ocean.


Smile Foundation India

In 2002, a bunch of young and enthusiastic corporate professionals came together to create Smile Foundation. Their aim was to make positive changes in the lives of underprivileged children. Through research they discovered that education was the key to children’s empowerment. They took up life-cycle approach of development to bring sustainable changes in children’s lives. The organization was created to empower youngsters and women, apart from children, through education, healthcare and market-focused lifestyle programs. They apply the best possible methodology and technology to achieve an ideal social return on investment.


Nanhi Kali

Established in 1996, Nanhi Kali provides primary education to underprivileged girls in India. Founder Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, believes that through education, women can tackle social evils that exist in the world today. Fear and inequality feed off of ignorance. Education eliminates ignorance and is the route to development and empowerment. The organization is aware of the high female drop-out rates, especially in underprivileged communities. They have taken it upon themselves to make sure that none of their ‘Nanhi Kalis’ drop out of school. A few years back the World Bank researched and discovered that there were many benefits associated with girls’ education. This includes reduction of child and maternal mortality, improvement of child nutrition and health, lower fertility rates and improvement in economic production. This research formed the basis of this social organization. Nanhi Kali is a sponsorship support programme that allows individuals to participate and support girls’ education.


Samridhdhi Trust

Samridhdhi in Hindi means Enrichment. Founder Mom Banerjee noticed that in many of the lesser developed sections of Bangalore, there are a lot of children who pick rags or while away their time playing or roaming around. She discovered that these were the children of immigrant labourers who hail from different states speaking different languages and are often on the move. This meant their children could not receive quality education from mainstream schools simply because of their language issues. So she established ‘tailor made’ schools to suit their diverse linguistic needs. These schools accommodate children of all ages.

The ‘Bridge Schools’ are no-fee schools that provide basic education to children of migrant labourers. Here, children are trained and prepared for admissions in mainstream, English medium schools and if the children do get admitted then Samridhdhi sponsors half their tuition fees and provides them with after school tuitions. They also have a professional coaching program – a rigorous program that aids students in successfully facing their SSLC and PUC examinations. This program is funded by the Manipal Foundation.

The trust aims to enrich the lives of underprivileged children by providing them with quality education. They hope to make substantial positive changes in the lives of children through schooling.

Manipal Foundation

Manipal Foundation is a charitable arm of the famous Manipal Group. The foundation works for various social issues like health, women empowerment and environment. But their primary focus is on education. They believe education is the answer to human development.

Partnering with social organizations like Samridhdhi Trust, IIMPACT and Sambhav Foundation, they help provide quality education to underprivileged children in both rural areas and urban slums.