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‘Aakanksha’ NGO founder believes that if one has the will, one will always find a method.

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Shramidha Srivastava

22nd September 2020

A group photograph of the kids and team of ‘Aakanksha’ taken before the Covid-19 crisis. (Source: Aakanksha Association)

The COVID-19 pandemic has, undoubtedly, exacerbated the hardships of all. While the privileged sections utilise various platforms to vent out their sufferings, there exists a huge population of the underprivileged section in India that has suffered significant disruptions and yet, cannot speak up. Thankfully, various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from across the nation, have stepped up to the rescue of the needy.

One such NGO based in Bangalore, is Aakanksha, started by a team of teenagers and young adults with the aim of giving back to society by helping underprivileged children with education. They aim to mentor the children of their NGO to become self-sufficient and confident to face challenges and competitions.

In an interview, Sinchana Pranathi, founder of Aakanksha, shared that the pandemic has presented many obstacles to her team and their journey to help the children of Aakanksha, but they knew they could not back out and sought to providing education online. The core of their team is largely a set of teenagers, with little experience. Therefore, they had to tackle the problem through many layers of obstacles.

All the systems, teaching methods, volunteer divisions bond with the kids and portions we had carefully built in one year was of no use anymore. We had to do build a new one all over again in just a month”, Sinchana said about one of their initial dilemmas. After rigorous trials and failed attempts, they were able to come up with a proper structure.

Aakanksha, presently works in a partnership with a U&I — a national NGO — for conducting online classes. While most students during the lockdown are heard complaining about their troubles, these young leaders designed their own app for the online classes, arranged smartphones for the families involved, and met the kids in-person following all social distancing protocol to explain how the technology works. 

“In live classes, it was the bond we built with our students which made things special, it just does not feel like Aakanksha”, a dejected Sinchana reflected, recalling her times when they used to provide them with free stationery, clothes, snacks as an incentive for regular attendance, and the constant chitter-chatter.

When it comes to young children, personal attention during education becomes even more essential. In order to communicate with the kids effectively amidst this hard time, they have organised special sessions on Sundays, to interact with each child. “Along with the volunteer who taught them that week, there are other volunteers whose job is specifically communicating with the kids”, she adds. “We are not 100 per cent satisfied with the results but we know that we are doing our best and will improve with time.”

Despite the adversities, their team tirelessly works to make this possible. When asked about was the source of positivity that kept them going, she answered joyfully, “The way the kids used to come and hug us tightly each class, the cute letters they wrote for us was adorable. They all have seen too many hardships in life for their age, but still they are so happy all the time.”

The team of Aakanksha always welcomes volunteers. Even during the phase of quarantine, they require volunteers to join the tech team, donate smartphones, and provide groceries to families in need.

To other youngsters of her age, Sinchana has a message, “Taking care of your mental health is important but please don’t forget that there are a lot of other people in need too. Trust me, you will feel a lot better every time you are able to make someone else smile.” For those who desire to bring a change, in her opinion, “You can always find a method. Work and time are mere excuses our brain makes up.”

Sources: Aakanksha Association

Edited by Mridula Kumar

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