Sitting on the park benches of the South Campus cricket field, Aniruddh, Krittika, and I conversed with Debashish, Dhirendra and Annie, the founders of â€˜Milaanâ€™. Milaan is an NGO, which has undertaken the task of rural development enabling the underprivileged sections of the society to stand on their own feet and pave the way to self-sufficiency. Being the youngest members to have registered for an NGO, armed with unwavering confidence, determination and with sky as their limit, we tried to find out what makes them tick.
DUB: When did you start Milaan?
Dhirendra: We registered on 18th October 2007.
DUB: At such a young age you have undertaken quite a commendable task. Where did you derive your inspiration?
Dhirendra: I got started with the â€˜India Fellowship Programâ€™, which works for various rural areas. For a period of 3-4 years we volunteered for different NGOâ€™s. We wanted to do something in terms of aiding the rural parts so we started to speak to different people and get information on how to go about it.
DUB: In order to start, what process did you have to follow?
A. 8 people from different states of India form the Governing Body. They have to provide their address proof. The procedure was pretty complicated- the office is in Patparganj. We had to go there and submit our forms, which were misplaced by the office. So we went with another set and filed again. There was quite a bit of shouting from our side (laughter) but finally they were filed.
DUB: Currently what are you working on?
A. Our main aim is to globalize human resources. Every organization needs funds and we had to go step by step. First we met up with Mr. P. Chitambram and discussed our project with him. He told us â€œTeach people how to create money and utilize itâ€?, which was very helpful. Our current rural project is called â€˜Swarachna/ Shaping your own destinyâ€™ aimed towards child development. Itâ€™s a 5 step project. Firstly, we go to the rural areas and see the community response. Then we establish an educational station, which is presently in Sitapur, UP. After that we structure there 56 students and 4 teachers who are all undergrads. We pay the teachers 1000 bucks per head and ask them to go teach. Our maintenance cost comes out to Rs.1500-1000. At the moment we are making use of small tents but our target is the construction of a residential building on an acre of land and teach proper CBSE curriculum.
DUB: Do you have separate working hours for the different age groups of children?
A. We have students aged between 1-5 years and at the moment they are all being taught at the same time. Suppose there is a Math class going on, then all the students are taught Math together. The teaching hours extend from 1-5 pm. We are working on getting these undergraduate teachers to Delhi and provide them with proper professional training for a period of 2 months. They should be thoroughly conversant with the basic school education and the functioning of a school so that by the time the building is established we have everything in place.
DUB: Collecting Funds is a real problem. Where do you manage to get your funds from?
A. Initially we pooled in money from our pockets. Anyone interested in volunteering had to pay a fee of Rs.100. W charged a fee of Rs.3000 for permanent membership. Then we also have Associate Member, which mostly consists of professionals who want to be a part of the organization and we charge them a fee of Rs.5000. From January onwards we have also started a Donor Card system in which the donor can contribute as much as he/she wants. We, volunteers take classes and we pay a certain amount of money to them. In the next 3-4 months we are planning on setting up a small office in Delhi. At the moment we are using Annieâ€™s drawing room as one(laughs). For Funds we also approach different corporates. In the last week of May we are planning on hosting a corporate event, spanning over a 2 day period. On the 1st day we will be inviting college teams to come and participate and on the 2nd day there will be a corporate street play for which they can either compete using their own teams or they even have the option of hiring teams. The prize money for the corporates will be Rs.10 lakhs. We also plan to have media coverage for the event. By July we have to start the school. For this purpose, we are having the Fund Raising Event. The venue and dates have not been finalized yet but we are looking for flexible dates which suite the needs of the corporates and the VIPâ€™s.
DUB: Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
A. We are going to start a Newsletter, which we have temporarily named â€˜Vaaniâ€™ and we want to give it a reader-friendly format. We are basically looking at receiving contributions from corporates, NGOâ€™s and individuals. It is going to be a national level newsletter, targeting NGOâ€™s in the rural areas and highlight their work. Also, individuals who want to volunteer are welcome. We are aiming for a huge launch with media coverage. We have already spoken to NDTV. If we get a good response we will launch it at the Fund Raising Event. It is going to be a monthly newsletter.
DUB: How are planning on going about the distribution of the newsletter?
A. Members of the Vaani club will have direct access to it. We will patch up with college libraries and provide 10 mags per month to different schools, colleges and libraries. Distribution through media is also our target.
At the moment we have 2 finalized members and we are looking for more. The layout should be such that people donâ€™t just want to read it but want to own it.
DUB: Are most of your memberâ€™s undergrads or working people?
A. 90% are students, then there are financial advisors, legal advisors but the majority is from DU. However, we donâ€™t have member from North Campus at the moment. We donâ€™t really have time to advertise. After college we go and meet people to help us out with funds. We are basically starting everything from scratch. It is much easier over the net but our website is under construction. We are trying to save money for web-designing though we do have a guy who is designing and doesnâ€™t ask for money but he needs guidance. We arenâ€™t only looking for cash but anything that can come in handy like stationary etc.
DUB: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
A. Rural development is our main object. The newsletter is another object. Hopefully we would have been able to establish our platform and our newsletter will be finished by then. (laughs)