Mamta Rangan is the founder and chairperson of Udaan India Foundation. Her foray into the social sector started as a result of her desire to give back to society. Taking a sabbatical from the corporate sector, she moved base to Mumbai when her husband’s job brought the whole family here. They moved into the then upcoming suburb of Powai. Powai was still developing then and Mamta recalls, there was construction happening everywhere! With construction, come workers, and in most cases, their families too. Mamta was thus brought face to face with the stark inequities that we so often fail to notice in our busy lives – children out of school, bare clothed, just running around on the streets, living in houses that were nothing more than shanties.
As she was anyway on a sabbatical, she decided to help these children – a simple desire to help them have somewhat of a childhood. So she, and even some of her friends and neighbours from time to time, started spending time with the children in parks, quiet street corners etc. From singing and dancing with them to teaching them numbers and the alphabets, many a afternoon were spent giving these children some memories of a “child”hood. They would also help these children revise what they had learnt at school in the mornings. So, without really intending to, they became a regular after-school programme.
It was only after a year or so that the thought of formalizing the same came to her mind. And it was a couple of small incidents that happened at the time that made her realize why continuing her venture was so important. One was when a little girl called Santoshi gave an atypical response to the obvious “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. She recalls Santoshi replying, “Main bartanwalli banna chahti hoon.” (I want to become a dishwashing lady). Unlike Santoshi who had a response, most of the other children kept mum. That’s when Mamta realized
that these children either had no dreams or very unambitious ones. And that didn’t go down too well with Mamta.
Thus, was born Udaan in 2004 based on the belief that “education is the key to change”. Continuing as an afterschool programme, Udaan’s aim is to give children access to quality education. They started with 26 children, some of whom were already in school, some who had dropped out and the rest who had never been to school.
Today, it has over 425 students under its wings, who are taught by 14 full time teachers and over 20 volunteers.
Classes are conducted between 3.15 and 6 15 pm daily, at a private school in Powai, after regular school hours, in accordance with the SSC curriculum.