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Celebrating Children – Bal Utsav
“Today, 1 out of every 5 people in the world cannot read or write. Illiteracy is linked to higher rates of unemployment. In order to effectively deal with it many Civil Society Organisations (CSOs / NGOs) are working towards empowering children to secure their rights through education across India. What makes Bal Utsav special is their idea of promoting holistic education for all and a multidimensional approach to resolve the challenges.”
Hailing from a Punjabi family settled in Delhi to getting married to a Tamilian in Bengaluru, Binu’s journey of taking a firm space in the social sector at ‘home-away-from-home’ has been very interesting. Similar is the story of her husband, Ramesh Balasundaram, an aspiring fundraiser, a trainer and also the Co-Founder of Bal Utsav.
Binu since her college days was involved with CSOs/ NGOs. The couple decided to work with children through education after enormous research and contemplation. Binu recalls, when she had moved to Bengaluru in February 2011, to live here and not just work related visit like before, it was a different experience. She found people of Bengaluru promising and approachable and made her feel at-home in no time! The spirit of Bengalureans kept motivating her towards her dream with each passing day.
Ramesh says “the ‘band-aid approach’ of the organizations working with children, is the reason the drop-out rates haven't gone down in our country though we have 1 out of 4 CSOs/ NGOs working in the space of education!” A band-aid approach is where we just treat a wound rather than protecting the skin and the body from it. It is very curative in nature but the chances of it relapsing is very high.
Bal Utsav, the organisation set up by Binu and Ramesh, came up with a multidimensional, result oriented, holistic attention, to education with hopes of developing and growing a sustainable solution.
Bal Utsav is registered as a Non-Profit Company registered under Section 25C in the name of Child Empowerment Foundation India. It is different from a trust or a society. Getting registered under Section 25C implies that an organization can operate in more than 1 state without getting halted due to state-specific rules. Bal Utsav has in 3 years reached 5 Indian cities - Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. The organisation has, touched upon many schools dealing with the issues like child sexual abuse and sexual health by educating children via theater and broadcast mediums. Also they have trained teachers, faculties,encouraged and undertaken need-based interaction in schools.
Bal Utsav has constantly been in terms with the government policies alongside the implementation of their programs. However, they haven’t taken a single penny as funds or contributions for themselves or for their CSO from government. This makes fundraising for them a crucial process in order to mobilize their resources and hence they look forward to events like TCS World 10K Bengaluru to reach out to more people and enhance their resources.
TCS World 10K Bengaluru, they say, has been one of their most looked forward event for fundraising and public engagement. They participated for the first time in the year 2013 and to their surprise, close to 130 runners ran for Bal Utsav. “We personally went to each and every of our runner’s home, got their registrations done, submitted the form and gave them the Bal Utsav tee-shirt,” Ramesh and Binu recall. It definitely took a lot of their time, but what came around was totally unexpected! In a day, Bal Utsav’s facebook page reached up to 6000 likes. Ramesh shares, “On the back side of every Bal Utsav tee-shirt we had a QR code. Clicking a picture of it would take one to Bal Utsav’s facebook page and website.” Indeed, Bal Utsav left no stone unturned in blending creativity with technology and marketing.
The response they received was very motivating for the next two consecutive runs that they participated in. Over the years, Bal Utsav has touched many hearts with the help of their dedicated runners group of more than 300 in number who have pan India events like TCS World 10K and Airtel Delhi Half Marathon by 2015.
Having an outreach of this kind in 2 major cities of India is not easy! What made it effective was the creativity and hard work which Binu and Ramesh had put in the process of fundraising. Ramesh mentions that the presence of Online Digital Space reduced all barriers of creating an outreach for different cities. They take pride in stating that the impact of Bal Utsav’s role in explaining to the runners the motive of the organisation and the importance of the cause they are running for. In total, of the runners supporting Bal Utsav, 75% of 10k runners and 85% of 21k, promote the idea of ‘Running for a Cause’.
Bal Utsav is now in a very exciting phase as they have received FCRA, which enables the organisation to touch base outside India to be able to engage globally. “FCRA is very important for any organization,” as it eases the process of funding from corporates who contributes only in foreign currency. To scale and to implement the planned projects, FCRA is a must-have for CSOs today, says Binu.
“Set a number, run behind it” is the motto with which the Binu successfully achieves all her fundraising targets. Having been a fantastic individual fundraiser in past, she has been celebrating the presence of children and the existance of education. Indeed, #EducationMakesAllTheDifference.
As spoken to,
India Cares Foundation