Udayan Care is a Delhi-based NGO that, since 1994, has been painting the empty canvas of destitute and abandoned children, women and youth with bright, vibrant and permanent colors. Who could have guessed that behind the commencement of this wonderful cause is a painful memory, a faint violet image that never ceases to hurt the eyes? Founder Kiran Modi had a very pleasant smile and positive demeanour when she invited me into her cabin for a quick conversation. Married at the young age of 18 into a conventional Marwari joint family, she went on to get a PhD in American Literature from IIT Delhi and ran a neighborhood weekend newspaper for 12 years. The obvious question thus came to my mind – living a content life, what motivated her to set up Udayan Care? My question was answered by Sohini Karmakar, Assistant Manager of Resource Mobilization at Udayan Care.
The story goes back two decades when Kiran Modi’s elder son was living in the United States, studying for an MBA. One day, the Modis found out that their son has passed away in a tragic accident. After flying to the States, they discovered that their son had not been using the money they were sending him. Instead, he was donating that generous amount to charity for the cause of feeding underprivileged children in Africa.
Kiran decided to transform her personal tragedy and sorrow into an unbounded happiness and joy for disadvantaged children through Udayan Care, an NGO that she established in her son Udayan’s memory. Thus Udayan Care was born, to give muscle to the initial efforts of her son, Udayan, in making a more equitable world. Outraged by the situation of India’s most vulnerable, their sheer numbers and conditions they live in; and desperately wanting to make a difference in their lives, made Kiran more firm in her resolve to ensure them their rights.
Kiran registered Udayan Care in 1994 with the help of her three friends. However, it took her two years to create the perfect model that would fit the needs of the child and benefit him/her the most. The first two transition years were thus spent doing extensive research on existing models, visiting NGOs and observing government-run homes. Kiran realized the model that was missing in India – the model that was not followed by any other NGO. This model was inspired by her childhood of growing up in a joint-family system.
In 1996, Kiran opened her first home in Sant Nagar. She chose a modest neighborhood in order to give the children the feel of a normal home and a normal life. She became the first mentor mom and fulfilled all duties of a mother. She began with raising three girls who came from a nearby village. They were sent to a prestigious school in the area and received a good education. She also battled off neighbors who did want abandoned children in their society. Kiran’s hard work, persistence and passion are visible even today. While the children in Sant Nagar are now grown-up now and will soon be leading independent lives, Udayan has grown tremendously. The organisation has 13 homes located in middle-class areas of the NCR region, Kurukshetra and Jaipur. 17 years have passed, but the foster care model has remained exactly the same.
‘Udayan,’ in Sanskrit, means Eternal Sunrise. The name accurately defines the personality of Kiran Modi’s son as well as the nature of the organisation.