Education is a fundamental right by our Constitution, and it remains the privilege of precious few. Just 100 kms away from the financial capital of the nation, exists a tribal district named Palghar where hundreds of children are still denied this basic right to be educated.
Palghar’s proximity to Mumbai does not help it to overcome the typical problems of tribal areas in India. Malnutrition, lack of educational facilities, the grim state of healthcare facilities, poverty, and mounting burdens of debt are issues around which the lives of the tribal population revolves. Yashwant Nagar is one such tribal hamlet situated in Palghar’s subdivision, Vikramgarh where the state of educational affairs have affected many generations, pushing them into the vicious circle of illiteracy and poverty.
The everyday journey to school is too painful for their little feet
The only school serving many villages like Yashwant Nagar in Vikramgarhtaluka is Vikramgarh High School. Children from these villages have to travel 10-12 kmseveryday to attend school. The only way to reach the school is state transport buses, which run infrequently. Often, children have to wait hours for the bus. Sometimes they miss school because the bus does not arrive.
Due to concern for safety, the diffficult journey to and from school in the long rainy season, the rocky Sahyadri terrain, and the terror of wild animals in the area, parents are forced to terminate children’s schooling. They become involved, instead, in farm work. It is beyond their power to break this cycle. The pattern has repeated itself with passing generations.
SwapnaShrishti: Dreaming Madly Is Not A Bad Thing After All
Making A Difference Foundation is a non-profit organisation working towards the education and empowerment of underprivileged children. MAD took up the task of educating tribal kids from Palghar around one year ago. In this time period, the team at MAD became familiar with the major reason of high dropout and illiteracy rate in the area- the very inaccessibility of school. This encouraged the organization to come up with the idea of building a hostel for these kids.
“This hostel is our dream. It will be an ideal hostel, you will see. We don’t want to build just few rooms for the residence but we want to build the lives, the personalities of the children who will be staying here”, Haresh Shah, the founder of MAD can’t stop talking about his dream project, which he named – SwapnaShrishti, World of Dreams!
A Blueprint Is Ready
The hostel will focus on three aspects of the growth and personality development of these children; health, education and empowerment through skill development.
Palghar has attracted some negative attention lately due to many malnutrition deaths. The hostel will have its own kitchen to have nutritious meals cooked for children to fight the problem of malnutrition; a well-stocked library, and a prayer room. In its effort to be a one of its kind hostel, SwapnaShrishti will also have its own backyard farm, a small biogas plant and solar powered gadgets. This hostel is definitely more than just a building. It is in itself a self-sufficient village.
Agriculture Is A Skill And Needs To Be Developed Scientifically
The skill development centre hosted in the hostel itself is the most innovative part of this project. The idea is to make children self-sufficient while preserving the tribal ecosystem and culture in the area. Agriculture is a primary profession of most of the families in Vikramgarh. MAD aims at reestablishing the organic farming in the region. Children will be trained scientifically to take up organic farming as an occupation in future so that they do not have to migrate to the cities in search of ill-paid jobs.
Along with farming modernised vocational skills will be taught through workshops in carpentry, welding, turning and fitting, and more.
Crowdfunding To Make A Difference
MAD is certainly dreaming big but is not living in the impractical palace of illusions. The ambitious project of MAD needs Rs. 1.25 crores and they know it is a giant amount.
Fundraising is an old problem for every NGO, but MAD foundation is dealing with it smartly.
They have found a new, cutting-edge solution- crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding lets you leverage the power of people. Well aware of the strength of large volunteer network, MAD designed its crowdfunding strategy accordingly.
Many of their volunteers work with MNCs, giving them opportunity to raise funds through their professional network. They established a core team of volunteers who dedicated chunks of time to share the fundraiser frequently with their social networks, bringing like minded people together to raise funds for this important cause.
MAD Accepted The Crowdfunding Challenge Of DaanUtsav and WON
Crowdfunding is new and many people are skeptical about its viability. But crowdfunding for the first time, MAD proved that with right approach and techniques, success is within your reach.
MAD emerged as a winner of #givingtuesday challenge run by Impact Guru as a part of DaanUtsav. They applied to perfection the fundraising tips shared by Impact Guru and won themselves one entire month of free fundraising on the platform, plus a free social media shout out.
MAD’s fundraiser has raised more than three lakhs till date. They have a long way to go, but at this rate they will surpass their target soon. The dream of constructing a SwapnaShrishti, will come true soon and we all will be witness to what MAD refers to as an ideal hostel.