When a child is terminally ill in India, they face a difficult road ahead. Their family is burdened with grief and expenses. Children are segregated from peers in their community due to a culture of fear and taboo for the terminally ill. When families from a rural area travel to a metropolitan city for medical support, they often have no place to live, turning to the streets. The lack of holistic medical and emotional support for a terminally ill child and their family exacerbates the grief and loss of hope. Enjoyable moments in the precious remaining time are limited. Two young entrepreneurs are changing this situation for the better by building India’s first children’s hospice center with the aim of ensuring that children and their family’s last days together are filled with dignity and joy.
Mansi Shah and Abhishek Tatiya are hoping to provide holistic medical and emotional support through Happy Feet Home, a daytime center in Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital (Sion Hospital) that will offer counseling, activities, and memorable moments for children and their families in their last days together. “Even if it is four months, let the child have the best four months ever,” Mansi proclaims. “At Happy Feet Home, we’re giving that kind of support and care. It’s a child-friendly space, colorful, vibrant, and full of joy. You step in and feel happy,” adds Abhishek.
This CNN article by University of Chicago student Michaela Cross on her experience with sexual assault during study abroad in India has been making the rounds.
RosieSays, a UChicago grad, describes the range of reactions she felt reading the piece. Another UChicago student, also on Michaela’s trip, explains her own experience, and why we should be more conscious of racism and the fact that sexual assault occurs everywhere before rushing to judgement. And one Indian man wrote a letter apologizing on behalf of other men.
I’ve heard horrible, unbearable stories about sexual assault in India. I don’t have all the statistics, and I’ll leave that to the experts and journalists. Even without statistics, I know that it is a terrifying reality for both female and male Indians and foreign travelers. It should not be diminished, and I do not question that Michaela’s experience was real and traumatizing. I have only sympathy, and respect that she was brave to tell her story.
I can’t explain why sexual assault happens, in India, or anywhere, or the experience of anyone else. The only thing I can describe is my own experience as another white, female, American, University of Chicago grad living in India.
When I think of my ten months in India, these are the men I think of:
I encourage you watch this video, but here’s an important quote about what makes the school so wonderful:
“How would we build a school if we were building it for our own children? And we realized that if we build it for their children, we build it very differently from how you build it for your own children.”
This seems basic, but it’s actually incredible. It’s also one of the main problems with a famous name in education in the developing world: Sugata Mitra.
Internet Penetration (% Population). Red indicates no statistics available. (As of Jan 2012) Photo credit: Wikipedia
Dalberg, the global strategic advisory firm focused on raising living standards in developing countries and addressing global challenges, has released the report Impact of the Internet in Africa.
The comprehensive, beautifully designed report and accompanying website highlights the Internet’s role in socioeconomic development in sub-Saharan Africa in the agriculture, health, education, government, finance, small business, and energy sectors.
Given my work in education technology, I found the education section of particular interest, as many of the issues affecting Internet use in education in sub-Saharan Africa are also relevant in India and other developing countries. In addition, access to quality education is a major problem in this region, with UNICEF reporting that more than 100 million school-age children in developing countries do not have access to education, with nearly half of them living in sub-Saharan Africa. The Internet has a huge role to play in bridging the education gap.
Two recent articles on measuring impact of social enterprises deserve close attention.
One article was in the Guardian, co-authored by Dr. Pathik Pathak and Zoe Schlag. Citing research they conducted in India, the authors explain that:
“Conventional social impact frameworks emphasise the need to isolate impact (what have you changed that you can prove you did alone?) but fail to ask how social entrepreneurs might scale impact through partnership. The whole notion of attribution is irredeemably flawed when it comes to making sense of the social economy and needs to be ditched in favour of something more attune to the dynamics of collaboration, partnership and exchange.”
Tablets have huge potential to revolutionize education in the classroom. In fact, the Ed-Tech in India report I co-authored looks in-depth at their potential to do just that for schools in the developing world. And they are getting smarter every day–India’s $40 tablet, the cheapest in the world, is about to become a “phablet” with a phone feature.
But just because we think tablets are awesome, it doesn’t mean we should send them into classrooms with no thought or planning. Over at VentureBeat, there’s a great guest post by the CEO of NOMAD, that explains a few reasons why educators should think twice before implementing tablets.
One of my last pieces for SocialStory’s Celebrating Failure Series.
For the next edition of our series on lessons from failure, SocialStory spoke with Vipin Thek, who works for the Global Office at Ashoka. He previously led the Youth Venture program in India and co-founded an organization in Chennai that works to prevent child sexual abuse.
Here is his excellent advice for changemakers everywhere:
1. There is no failure, only growth
“I don’t follow the concept of failure,” says Vipin. “I believe that if you really look at life, there is no failure, only growth. When we do something that doesn’t go as planned, we need to learn from those experiences and grow from there, and not view it as a failure.”
When I moved to India in July 2012, I expected to come away having left a demonstrable, long-term impact at the affordable private school I would work with.
As soon as I settled down in my job, I realized that the work would be a lot more challenging, complicated, and slower than I could have ever imagined. Yet, I didn’t want to settle for what I thought were more unsustainable, easier, or smaller-scale projects. I have ideals about social enterprise work that is sustainable, well planned, and intentional, and that addresses the root causes of problems as opposed to just surface issues. Even though I was primarily responsible for work at just one school, I still wanted to think big. (more…)
I was fortunate to spend the majority of these nine months in India working with friends and colleagues to explore “solutions” to problems I saw with affordable private schools.
I’m sharing some of these ideas here. For a variety of reasons, these ideas were not implemented, though we were able to explore the feasibility of many of them and speak with potential partner organizations and schools. Some of these ideas are untested and complex, and require significant time, human capital, and financial support beyond the scope of my resources. And ideally they should be school and locally-driven initiatives.
I’m not sharing these ideas because I think they are novel, game changing, or will necessarily even work, but because perhaps you know of someone working on a similar concept, or can tell me why these ideas would or wouldn’t work. Or maybe you would like to try them out yourself. For whatever reasons, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
The hype around social enterprises often trumps a deeper investigation and critique of the challenges facing those organizations.
After spending nine months exploring affordable private schools (APS) and social enterprise in India, I’ve noticed a number of challenges with APS that also apply to social enterprises more broadly. Below, I discuss three critiques and myths about affordable private schools, and offer some lessons that those working in the social enterprise ecosystem can take into consideration for their own work.
This edition of SocialStory’s Celebrate Failure Series is a story of a retail store that achieved early success but eventual failure. Though it wasn’t an organization with an outright social mission, it’s important to remember that businesses such as retail stores also have a social impact by creating jobs and impacting the local economy. And any lessons about failure can apply to both the social and private sector.
I spoke with my friend Erin about her new non-profit, Sucre Blue, for SocialStory.
Erin Little was 10 years old at a church camp in rural Missouri when was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. She had no access to hospitals or specialist doctors, and didn’t meet another diabetic until she was almost 21. Her experience is not unlike that of the 60 million diagnosed with diabetes in India.
Diabetes affects 8% of the world population. If India’s diabetic population reaches80 million as projected, it will have the largest diabetes population in the world.
Social entrepreneur Hemant Nitturkar learned several important lessons about how to run a social enterprise after one of his ventures failed, in part due to team disunity. Here is what Hemant shared with SocialStory about his failure experience.
SocialStory: Tell us about the social enterprise you founded.
Hemant: First generation entrepreneurship is on the rise in India, but these entrepreneurs lack access to mentors and early-stage funding. While I saw a lot of good things happening in the entrepreneurship space, I felt they were all happening in silos. I had conceived an end-to-end service for early-stage entrepreneurs, which ultimately took shape as CARMa Venture Services Private Limited. I had planned a spectrum of services such as mentoring, early-stage capital raising, post-capital raising interventions, and developing entrepreneurship hubs in Tier II towns and many other support services. To pull off such a complex operation, I scouted for and eventually identified several people to join my team, who brought with them skills and experiences to complement my own. I served as the Co-Founder, CEO, Chairman, and majority (over 65%) shareholder of the private limited company.