Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 7:47 PM
Since its going to be quite a while till I get back to Bombay, I thought I'd update you all about my Uttar Pradesh NGO visits by email. Also, since I had quite an interesting time in UP.
|Samerth's school is located 4 hours away from Raipur|
|At Samerth's school for tribal children|
On the way back, cops kept stopping our car every 100m or so asking us where we were headed. And told us that after a certain point, there was a "chakka jaam". Not sure what exactly that means but turns out that the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister was coming to a nearby town/village ( which also happened to be his hometown/village) and the villagers were protesting. He had promised them a school, which hadn't been fulfilled. I kind of freaked when we had to stop to figure out what to do. Bike after bike with 3 men each, holding lathis, and with dupattas tied as bandanas kept passing by. A few phone calls to local cops on duty later, we were asked to drive back 30 mins and take an alternative route. Which the driver initially refused because its a really bad road and he was scared of his car getting stuck in keechar. But when we approached, we saw that it had been done up by MREGA. Phew! We drove down and returned a little later than expected. God knows what we would have done otherwise. We were a good 2 hrs away even from a rundown hotel!
|GiveIndia employee distributing saris to poor widows at Maitri, Vrindavan|
|Shramik Bharti's recording studio that transmits educational information|
The highlight of my next visit, which was to the Kanpur-based Shramik Bharti, was me being interviewed for "Mehmaan Manch" - a weekly talk show on the local radio in UP (91.2). Since the radio station was on our route to meet the villagers (for my writeups for http://ngos.giveindia.org) , their CEO Rakesh asked me to stop by for 10 minutes to have a look. He was really looking for funding ideas for the station from me. Little did I realise that their staff (who are all volunteers from the village) would want me to be guest speaker. So I spoke about GiveIndia, what had brought me to the villages that day, and of course signed off with a message for girls to study so that they stand a chance to become like me ;-)I have asked them for a copy of the same once the edited version is in place - will share.
|Milaan's school where classes are going on while work continues...|
|One of the only pictures I managed to sneak, because of the monkeys,|
at the Ganga aarti,
Last stop was Kiran Society in Varanasi. I really wish the visit was better organised here. The NGO is located 1 hr from the main city, in Madhopar village. And their school bus also picks up visitors to the NGO daily and drops them back to the city along with the children. So I could have ideally finished everything in one day by interacting with the children in the bus on the way there and back. Unfortunately this didn't strike Kiran's team and I took a train that only got into Varanasi at 9am (instead of another that would get into the city at 6am) as I thought 6am would be inconvenient for the driver (as he would need to leave Kiran at 5am to come get me). Further, it's only when I got there that I realised that their Founder lives at Kiran itself. Their website mentions that their Founder is from Switzerland. It's only at Kiran that I realised that the "JK" in ther CEO's name Mrs. Sangeetha JK stands for "Juddith Keller" - Sangeetha is her Indian adopted name! So I missed meeting her as she was in Bangalore when I visited :-(
BTW, ORG team, its because of this connection that they have many donors abroad. But many were not able to donate during the India Tax Saving Challenge because of the second level password. I spoke to one of their long term volunteers from Switzerland for a couple of hours on day 2. He was very upset about foreigners not being able to donate and went on about how our site is flawed till I explained it all. He also referred to our tier 1 MOU as a "stone-cold agreement" and how it's not a partnership agreement but "GiveIndia is dictating terms" in it. Again, I spoke to him about the bad experiences we've had (without naming any NGOs) and he kind of understood where we were coming from. Their COO Ranjeet was all praises for Valli and he also said that he's very open to Kiran being used for experimentation for any new funding models/activities that GiveIndia comes up with - he understands that we need to be experimental too.
Before I sign off, I just like to say that this was one tough journey. It was around 40 degrees everywhere ( barring one day in Kanpur when it rained), the road distances were long and the roads just terrible. The potholes in UP give competition to the craters on the moon! But what was the worst was that there was hardly any electricity (to the point that even invertors went of). Shramik Bharti shared with me that they had spent Rs. 40,000 on diesel for their generator the past month! At most places where I was meeting beneficiaries, we sat in the shade but were fanning ourselves with my notepad and other brochures of the NGO to keep flies away. It is also very scary when the electricity went at both Mathura and Kanpur station - it got pitch dark and I was clutching onto my main bag for a good 10 mins or so lest someone tried to flick it. I would have truely be stranded without money and my phone had that happened! Despite the pains, this was one memorable trip.
I came back yesterday to my 5 year old nephew asking me "Aap intne kaale kaise ho gaye" (why I have become so black?) But for the first time, was truly glad to be back - to eat some fruit and salad ( versus the Samosas and Wadas I had been eating as that's all you get from roadside stalls as you go more rural) and to get my spectacles fixed!
And lastly, if you enjoyed reading the above and would like to experience the same, do accompany me on a visit or 2. There are no more NGOs to visit in Maharashtra, which means you would need to be prepared to travel a bit. Am headed to Tamil Nadu post-Diwali so folks in Bangalore/Chennai do consider the offer :-)
We had the pleasure of interacting with Ms. Sulaksha Shetty, HR Business Partner, Abbott Healthcare. Sulaksha has 13+ years of rich experience in HR. It was interesting to know about various platforms adopted to promote giving culture, challenges faced and the road ahead.
GiveIndia: What is your role and for how long have you been with the organisation?
Sulaksha: I have been associated with Abbott Healthcare for 2 years now and currently I am the HR Business Partner supporting Support functions and a few Commercial functions at Abbott Healthcare Solutions.
GiveIndia: What is the idea of giving at Abbott and what platforms have you adopted to ensure Giving culture?
Sulaksha: As a Healthcare company, our mission has been to turn science into Caring. Caring is also one of our core Values which we all practice in our daily work life. We encourage employee volunteerism and as an organisation participate during the Joy of Giving Week. Joy of Giving Week, now known as ‘Daan Utsav’ has proved to be a strong platform to reinforce the Giving Culture in the organisation. It’s an event managed totally by our employees and has seen good traction and participation in the company. The enthusiasm and pride which employees experience through Giving is visible during the JGW. We have employees participating for various causes like blood donation, Mid-day meal scheme, NGO Mela and monetary donations. One more employee giving initiative that we started 5 years back was to partner with GiveIndia for the Payroll Giving Programme. GiveIndia creates awareness on the Payroll Giving Program and employees who are keen to contribute enrol for the program.
GiveIndia: Speaking of Payroll Giving, till date over 100+ employees from Abbott have chosen to contribute towards the programme. Do you think Payroll Giving adds a new dimension to the host of socially engaging activities? If so, how is Payroll Giving working out for the employees?
Payroll Giving program complemented with engaging online portal is a powerful tool to engage employees who are keen to participate in socially engaging activities but who may not find time given their work and personal commitment. Our employees find the portal informative and easy to manage.
Employees have been sharing their experiences with us. Be it supporting education for lesser privileged children or providing financial support to charitable institutions providing shelter to needy, the experience of reaching out to the needy on a sustained basis has been source of satisfaction to our employees.
GiveIndia: Given that employees at any pharmaceutical company are largely preoccupied with research and sales, how easy or difficult does it become for you to get employees engaged at CSR initiatives?
Sulaksha: At Abbott we see an equal involvement of employees and senior leadership towards ‘Giving’. This is evident from the growing participation from our employees on various initiatives such as Payroll Giving, Joy of Giving Week or Mumbai Marathon that we participate. Its their passion and commitment towards Giving which has helped us not just sustain these initiatives over years but also take it to next level.
For instance, while we would celebrate Joy of Giving Week and support multiple NGO, last Christmas our employees suggested that we could celebrate Christmas and thank the housekeeping personnel. The idea came in from employees and was worked out by them and was a success.
GiveIndia: Lastly, what is the future of Giving at Abbott?
Sulaksha: As mentioned earlier, we see us taking our existing Giving programs to the next level. Infact this year we are
planning to expand footprints for Payroll Giving Program and reach out to our new hires with this proposition during their induction.
Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 2:22 PM
|Manju Latha handing over a bucket of rice to a beneficiary |
in Hyderabad. Source: The Hindu
First case in point is Deutsche Bank’s annual India fundraiser ‘Trade for a Cause’ campaign. Trade for a Cause is a virtual trading game as a fund raiser for worthy causes, while providing an exciting opportunity for employees to sharpen their trading skills in a simulated market environment. By making a donation, employees support the cause and as an added advantage, join the trading game. This year Deutsche Bank supported Chirag Rural Development Foundation, one of GiveIndia’s listed NGO, to light up villages across states.
Given that Payroll Giving partnership is already in place, GiveIndia jumped in to help Deutsche Bank raise more funds by providing an opportunity to employees who want to contribute a big amount but cannot do so upfront. GiveIndia got a process in place so that employees can divide the amount over a period of 6 months and donate as EMI’s. Deutsche Bank successfully raised over INR 11 lac on using this EMI option.
Second case in point is Vodafone’s flagship ‘World of Difference’ campaign. Vodafone India used
If you want to run fundraising campaigns too reach out to us and we can help you with all that you need :)
We had the pleasure of interacting with Mr. Ashutosh Telang, Chief Human Resources Officer of Marico. In his 15 years in Marico, Mr. Ashutosh Telang has played an integral part in building strong organisational values. It was fascinating to learn about various platforms provided and initiatives taken to promote giving culture, challenges faced and the future of giving at Marico.
GiveIndia: What is your role and for how long have you been with Marico?
Mr.Telang: I am the Chief Human Resources Officer at Marico.
I joined Marico in 1999 and since then have held several leadership positions in the
Corporate HR, International Business HR and Organisational Development divisions.
I have been closely involved in leading Marico’s efforts in streamlining HR operations, reinforcing organisation values, setting a Talent Pipeline creation process, integrating acquisitions, apart from ongoing connect and communication with Marico members, through various cross-functional initiatives.
GiveIndia: What are the key initiatives taken up by Marico towards conserving the ecology and reducing carbon footprint?
Mr. Telang: Nurturing and sustainability of the community are key aspects of our purpose, Make a Difference. At Marico, we are always on the lookout to make a positive impact to the environment around us. Some of the recent initiatives that we have taken up towards conserving the ecology are:
o We have actively worked on reducing the plastic consumption in the packaging of the bottles of our flagship brand, Parachute. In fact, the Parachute bottles are about 7% lighter and its caps are 2% lighter than the other vendors. There is a reduced consumption of PVC. Less than 2% of total plastic consumed in now PVC.
o At Marico, we have also converted most of our steam generation boilers from fossil fuel to bio-mass based boilers. As of now 94% of our fuel requirement is through renewable fuels such as bio-mass briquettes or rice husk.
o We also strive to be zero water discharge manufacturing facilities wherein all treated effluent gets used within factory premises for gardening purpose. All our factories have water harvesting system installed in its premises.
o In addition to the above initiatives, we also encourage green behaviour amongst our members, through the Green Awards. The parameters for awarding members on their Green initiatives are the impact of the initiatives on the environment and its sustainability from a long term perspective. The awards are given to projects that have had a positive net effect on the environment and have reduced the usage of products that harm the environment.
GiveIndia: Till date, over 200 employees from Marico have signed up for the Payroll Giving programme, contributing over 21 lacs of funds. In fact, you match contributions as well. Do you think Payroll Giving makes for an easier way for employees to engage with the cause of giving?
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2014 at 6:03 PM
As the auto driver navigated through the concrete jungles of Gurgaon, he wondered what I was really up to. I told him, I have to meet a few people in Badshahpur, an upcoming suburb of Gurgaon. He didn’t really buy it. Not yet a familiar area, we needed to ask dozens of people on the road for directions; as we slowing inched towards the construction site of Bestech India Ltd, Park View Spa Project in Badshahpur. He asked me again, ‘Madam, kaam kya hai?’
What I understood from the documents was that the NGO- Mobile Crèches, takes care of the children of construction workers. They provide meals, and non-formal education to these kids and basically keep them safe at construction sites. I had to visit their centre and verify the details provided by them. Soon, we found the place and I requested the auto driver to wait for me. This wouldn’t take long I assured him. It was a residential project construction site as I learnt from the guards at the construction site. With only bricks and mortar in sight, I really didn’t know what to expect. But I was soon pleasantly surprised! In one corner of the construction site separated by a boundary of tin sheets, was a small classroom, complete with charts, pictures, and learning aids. It stood in such a stark contrast to the background of buildings around it. There were kids, playing in the small playgrounds in front of the classroom oblivious to the absurdity they lived in.
Being a teacher myself, I was completely taken aback by the effort with which the classroom had been decorated. Every wall had charts and learning aids, just like a normal classroom. It reminded me so much of my own classroom in Adarsh Nagar. I asked the kids what they thought about the centre. They loved the place, their teacher, the playground, and everything about it. Since the kids didn’t go to a formal school, they called the centre their ‘school’, and in every way it was just like a school.
A construction site is a dangerous place, for anyone, not just kids. The parents who are construction workers, are mostly busy and hence no one really has an eye on the kids. It is a tough situation to be in, for both the kids and the parents.
Mobile Crèches’ centre is a safe haven for these kids. It was so wonderful to know that these kids were not only safe, but are also studying. ‘Education’ is after all one of the long term solutions of the problems that plague our country. Finding this little classroom in the concrete jungle gave me hope. It signalled to me that we are all on the right path; and that step by step, we’ll get to our ultimate destination.
So, when I got back to my auto after 20 minutes, the auto driver asked, ‘Sab theek hai, Madam?’ and with a big smile, I replied, ‘Haan ji, bhaiya, sab kuch theek hai, sab kuch bahut acha hai!’