Narendra was in Class VII in a community school and was the first kid to go to school in his family. His father is an auto driver and his mom works as a maid and while his parents wanted him to continue school financial constraints had almost made them discontinue his education. This was in 2015 when Parinaam Foundation counselled his parents and enrolled him into the Academic Adoption Programme. He was admitted to an English Medium School and he surprised everyone by being a quick learner. He has graduated from Class X with 75% marks and will now be going to “The Vision College” for his pre-university with Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Computer Science as his subjects. He is now looking forward to their higher education and is taking his first steps to breaking the poverty cycle for his family.
This is just one of the ways in which Bengaluru based NGO Parinaam Foundation aims to break India’s vicious cycle of generational poverty through holistic interventions focused on education, social development and financial independence for the underprivileged. The endeavour is to create a self-sustaining environment that brings lasting change to lives of urban poor. By the end of this year, Parinaam will have helped over 500,000 families in its 10 years of existence. “We work with people who do not have access to basic human rights. When we start working in our slums, most children are wondering around aimlessly or going to work with their parents. Parinaam strives to change this completely with our interventions. This can range from something as basic as empowering a family with identity because they don’t existent in the system, opening a bank account and teaching them how to use it, but most importantly putting a child into school and helping him/her enjoy the best part of being a child while enabling them to become the future for their family and our country. Our work is primarily in the education, financial literacy and community development sector,” says Mallika Ghosh, Executive Director, Parinaam Foundation.
A Helping Hand
The Foundation has helped over 800 children go to school in the Karnataka area, worked with 2800 families in 44 ultra poor communities in Bangalore, and 87,000 women and 15,000 children have participated in Parinaam’s renowned Financial Literacy Program, Diksha, across 15 districts in Karnataka. Individual support and contribution from corporate houses such as Caspian, Citi Foundation, Merint, HSBC, Sequoia Capital, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank, Bhumiputra, and DSP Black Rock is the main source of their funds. “While we have had a fair amount of support through the years, we find that our home city, Bangalore is not aware of the good work Parinaam does. We believe if we can get the word out to more people from our city, they will come together to change the lives of the children and the families we work with. We are hoping for monetary contributions, long term sponsorships of children and creating mentors to help the children choose the right path as they become older and need to start thinking about their career. All our families live in communities where they have no access to water or proper sanitation. We would love to try and help develop their communities through community initiatives,” says Mallika.
Making a Difference
Parinaam does not believe that their job ends with just putting a child into school and rather supports the family with a range of interventions ranging from livelihood development, access to social and financial services, childcare and healthcare. Take the case of nine-year-old Parvati and her family who live in a slum in Arehalli, Bangalore, which is one of the many communities that Parinaam works in. In February 2017, Parvati was diagnosed with a hole in her heart. She needed to undergo a critical surgery which was estimated to cost two lakhs. Her parents Shashikala and Nandish in their occupations as a maid and a construction worker have a combined monthly income of Rs. 12000 per month. With no access to credit facility, this was not an amount they could afford. “Parinaam Foundation took up the case through their ‘Medical Intervention Programme’ and approached Jayadeva hospital. We applied for the Vajpayee Arogyashree scheme which was approved and the whole surgery cost was borne by the grant. The family only spent Rs. 100 for the hospital registration. Parvati now has a new lease on life and is attending the tuition center that we conduct in her community and is ready to go to school in June,” says Mallika.
Making a difference has been a key motto and the Foundation as with the case of Mariyamma who lives in a slum in Donnekundi, Bangalore. She and her husband were engaged in construction labour and had a combined income of approximately Rs. 9000 per month. She often fell sick due to heavy physical activity and exhaustion and with two young kids aged five and three, she found it difficult to take them to the construction sites. Parinaam counselled her about alternate employment and helped her find a new livelihood. “We were successful in getting her a housekeeping job at Rainbow hospital, which was very close to her house, with a salary of INR 11,000 per month. At her new place of work, she was entitled to benefits like PF, ESIC, and over-time bonus perks. Her family income has now doubled and both her kids now go to school. The hospital administration also opened a bank account for her, where she actively saves for her children’s education and other needs,” says Mallika. The Foundation has worked very hard over the years to make sure their programmes are making a difference. It is now time to scale and reach out to more children and their families. “By 2018 we would have liked to touched over 10,000 ultra poor families in Bangalore and enrol 1000 of their children into our Academic Adoption Program. We believe very strongly that maximum funds should go to the child or beneficiary we are helping and this will continue to be the case. Our programmes should have a long-lasting impact for the family and give their children a much better future. We hope Parinaam will be one of India’s best NGOs in the future,” signs off Mallika.
This story appeared in Deccan Herald’s Spectrum dated 6th June 2017 here.