Feb 19, 2012

Rise! [49/365]

Recently, an Indian actor sang a song that went viral online.
The song, made up of a bunch of lyrics that can only be termed as utter nonsense, is a testimony to how technology combined with good marketing can make anything a raging trend (pun intended). It proved how anything can be marketed as long as it is packaged well and promoted by deep purses.

Large Corporates have, in the last decade or so have gradually become more aware of their social responsibilities and that's a good thing. Nobodys complaining. Having been a part of one such corporate responsibility, I've realized that it is a win-win situation.

A few days ago, an NGO that I am proud to be associated with - Unnati (read about my experiences here), raised a pitch for sponsorship and support through Mahindra Rise - an CSR initiaitive by Indian auto major Mahindra. (Read about the program here).

Unnati does some incredible work in transforming people.  Their goal to transform a million youngsters is admirable.
Difficult but not impossible. Formidable but just what our country needs. An entire generation of productive, educated and committed workforce.

And true to its words, I've seen the confidence and the growth in individuals, both young and old go through in just 70 days. That's right, it takes less than a quarter for an entire family to Rise. From poverty, from degradation, from isolation.
I've been a part of the selection process where hundreds of young boys and girls, many who have traveled from as far away as Sikkim and Nepal to attend the 70 day vocational training that Unnati gives free of cost. Many of the interviewers are dedicated volunteers who spend hours on a weekend screening candidates. Once selected, the candidates are on the right path to change. While Unnati does insist on punctuality and discipline, it never forces itself on any of its students.
This I believe is because many in Unnati treat its students as responsible adults who are capable of making their own decisions. Wise move, I think.

Towards the end of 70 day training session, I begin to see how it's students undergo a transformation into mature adults who are intelligent, accountable and extremely productive. In the process, I've seen timid semi literate girls and boys who are intimidated by English become strong individuals with character and poise, conquering their fear of the stage and the world.

Unnati has not lost any of the steam since its first batch. If any of the accolades and the praise they receive is any indication, I can say they are on a roll. But accolades alone cannot fund a project this size.
Surely Unnati needs a lot of support. In the form of dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference and in the form of money. I've seen many former students return to their Alma- mater to return a little of what they got and I've seen professionals render their expertise, knowledge and time for free.
Seeing as the NGO does not take anything from their students while giving them a lot in return, it is imperative that the able among us strive to do whatever it takes to support Unnati.

I've taken up the cudgels to spread the word and to try and spread the word about the great work that they do.
Mahindra Rise is a wonderful platform for Unnati. But for the NGO to win the kind of national recognition and support that this effort offers, Unnati needs 3000 votes.
That's not a high number. I've seen silly videos go viral with these numbers in mere minutes. I've cast my vote. Sure registration does take a minute, but wouldn't you register for a website if it mattered to you?
I ask that you visit the link right now (takes just a click), register for yourself (another minute or so), vote and ask your circle of friends to do the same too. And you're done, all within 5 minutes that you can squeeze in your lunch/dinner break.
It's that simple!

Strike while the iron is hot. Make a difference now by voting. And know that by your vote, Unnati is that much closer to achieving it's goal. While corruption and Anna Hazare might still be a cause worth fighting for, supporting organizations that strengthens our grassroots can never be a lost cause.
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