“Quite often, whenever I go out, I would see the kids at the road junctions, near malls asking for money. Sometimes, children come directly to tell why they’re selling whatever stuff they have to join a school next academic year. These instances always used to bring a lot of questions to my mind: Do we have any support system for the kids of the underprivileged to provide free education? How are these kids going to turn out to be in future? How do we take care of the necessities of these kids and is there anything that I could do for them? That made me take my initial steps towards the social sector and working closely with NGOs.
I come from a family who always thinks about lending a helping hand to others during their possibility and that’s one of the core values inculcated in me right from my childhood. Having been volunteering for many development initiatives from my childhood, I took a step further to ideate a voluntary organisation named U&I in Hyderabad. U&I is all about you and me, a volunteer-driven charitable organization in India. It was when our co-founders, Ajit Sivaram and Satish Manchikanti, along with a few friends, would visit the Institute for children of special needs every Sunday, we realised the importance of focused group assistance to improve the overall development of these children. Our group would hang out with the children, play games with them or spend time cleaning the compound. Over time, the handful of friends grew into a 50+ strong volunteer group. Today, our organization reached out to 1600 children in 52 learning centres across 20 cities in India through our Teach program. We work with around 2000 volunteers who share their time, talent and energy so they can be the change. We envision continuing the work that was started in the home for special needs children, now expanding our core programs to four other homes.
Apart from that, as a part of our welfare activities, we have provided groceries to the children and their families during the Covid 19 pandemic. We have also provided the necessary information about beds availability across cities and supplying medical supplies through our Breathe India project.
I strongly believe education in one or another form is the only thing that could help move up these kids on the socio-economic ladder. In the current scenario, due to Covid 19, the possibility of we meeting kids to teach them one-on-one with our volunteers is still not possible and we are aware that the learning would be impacted if we don’t continue to teach them. As things are slowly improving, we wanted to bring things back on track with an alternative approach. We have segmented our centres based on their Internet connectivity level and using the digital learning methods by arranging the internet-based smart devices. Well, to be honest, it’s not easy to adapt to digital teaching as well as learning, however, we are making our best efforts to make the learning happening.”