Sixteen youngsters, all in their 20s have a vision; of educating as many orphans in the city as possible and they have formed an NGO called Enlightening Future - Enlift. At the moment, the members work with two orphanages called Corner Stone and Supporting Hearts Foundation where they help kids in their lessons, teach them art and craft and provide them free stationery.
The director of the team, Mukul Ranjan, says he conceived this idea in October 2012, when he was in his third year of engineering. 'My mind was not in engineering. I wanted to become an entrepreneur. My aim was to build a socially-responsible corporate initiative.' It was his childhood memories of children begging on the streets that urged Mukul to start this group. 'I was so determined to do something in this direction that I even saved my pocket money for the initial investment for the NGO.' As of now, they do not have an office. They meet at each other’s houses and formulate their plans. 'Our parents serve the food. This has strengthened the bonds between the members. We almost live like a family now,' says Mukul. The group wants to create a community of youngsters who are service minded.
During the exam season, they get busy helping the children prepare for them. Says Sri Yadav Raja Ram, another member, 'These children amaze me. They have a sharp grasping power. Their only problem is that they cannot express themselves.' Mukul says they want to help their dreams take wings. 'For that, we are now thinking of picking three children and mentoring them for three months. We also would like to start counselling classes for them.' Enlift has a programme called English listening and Speaking which improves communication skills in these children. V. Jidha, who is the board of trustee, says they had to plan a new syllabus altogether to meet the requirements of each child. 'Initially we tried to teach all of them in one class. But then we split them into different batches according to their age and learning capability. Each class has high and low achievers. We have to tailor the syllabus according to each child.'
Enlift also collaborated with other NGOs such as NSAT, Nilgiri Social Awareness Team to hold a blanket drive on January 26 to provide free blankets for the beggars. They also engage in other social activities. They organised a two-wheeler rally to urge women to vote. Over 90 women took part, zipping through the city, holding posters. It was a great success, recalls Babu, the executive member of the team. They organised it with the support of election commission. 'It was a grand event. The Collector and the Deputy Collector had turned up. All of them appreciated the initiative.' Enlift recently organised a fund raising concert where major bands in the city played. 'It was for educating the girl child. It went down really well with the young crowd. We collected Rs. 19,000, from that event. The bands have promised to collaborate with us for other events too.'
Enlift has many programmes on their agenda. Their next step is to adopt a girl child and sponsor her education and career. 'We also want to conduct inter-orphanage competitions where children can showcase their dance, music and craft skills,' says Mukul. Currently, Enlift is building a library for children. 'We are requesting our well wishers and teachers to contribute to the library. Those who are interested to contribute can get in touch with us on Facebook,' says Mukul.
A strong network of young start ups in the city is the backbone of Enlift’s success. 'Kites Café is our venue partner and Kovai Foodies is the online partner. We have signed an MOU with NSAT to hold a blanket drive once every month. We collaborate with each other so that we mutually benefit from each other’s activities. So many young start ups have sprung up in the city. We aspire to do something different and radical. There will be more start ups in the city if the government gives enough support and the NGOs work like a tight network. We can be a good model to other cities. The youth will stop migrating to bigger metros for want of opportunities here.'
(For more details, visit ENLIFT on Facebook and their website.)