Giving labors a deserving life.

Name- Naresh Kumar Sijapati

Yatri year- 2016

Age- 24

NGO- Panah Foundation

Year of establishment-2015

Have you imagined a life of labour that goes to work every day just to feed his family in the night? What about those who leave their country in search for better lives? Unfortunately, their voices never make it to the mainstream. 

This is a story of a labourer who wants to create “smart labour”- Naresh Sijapati. He himself is from migrant labour family from Nepal and saw the struggle since childhood. Naresh decided to work for such population who is stuck in transit, fighting with disenfranchisement within the boundaries of other country and living an uncertain livelihood like he has been through.

Naresh found that there are so many government schemes for migrant labours and daily wage earners but they have no idea about their rights and if trained properly how well they can earn. Knowing the pain since childhood, he always to stand for his society, give them a dignified life, who have travelled thousands of kilometres with a hope of minimum earnings?

In 2015, Naresh left Teach for India and started Panah Foundation from his savings. He started talking to labours that did not have proper documents, did not get money for work they have done and have no idea which door to knock for their rights. Even after being from same community creating trust and managing finance was the main problem. He went to the ground every day, talked to them and finally got first two labours to start with.

During this journey, he joined Jagriti yatra in 2016. ‘It was one of the biggest turn of my life. I started thinking out of the box. After meeting other yatris I learned that there is no limit to explore our inner self. I came to know about life and opportunities exist which I never had an idea about. After listening to many yatris stories, making new friends from not only India and other countries I got confidence and different approach on what can be added more in Panah foundation” – said Naresh.

After Yatra, apart from migrant labours, Panah also started working with slum residents, children, women, youth and vulnerable people in urban and rural areas but faced financial problems. Grants they got from various sources were not enough. At this point of time, Mr. Naresh and board made long term plan. They started charging minimum fees from labors for services and skills training provided.

Panah runs programs in various sectors which include Training and Livelihoods (KOUSAL – A Skill development training Program), Education (Child-Friendly Center – Education Support for Labor Kids) and Governance (Information Centre for labour). In the last 1 and half years, Panah has expanded into Ahmedabad, in different areas and has given dignified life to more than 1300 individuals.

With forever learning attitude, Mr. Naresh Sijapati, aims to reach maximum labours by contacting international helplines. He believes everyone should have an eagerness to learn, as it is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.

To know more visit – http://panahfoundation.weebly.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/PanahFoundation2015/

To be a change maker apply for Jagrti Yatra- http://www.jagritiyatra.com/

From Roots to Kitchen – The Originality of Pickles

Name: Shagun Setia, Kehsav Parthasarathy

Yatra year: 2015, 2014

Company name: Rural Roots

“Be the change you wish to see in this world”- inspired by this quote, Shagun Setia and Keshav Parthasarathy decided to start a social enterprise along with their full time day jobs which can support their startup, in one of the tier-3 districts of UP, Deoria. Filled with an undying passion to help the poor, rural roots was started with an aim to empower the rural women.

They wanted to come up with a solution that not only provides employment outside the agriculture sector to the destitute but also empowers women and lifts their status in the society. In other words, they wanted to create a socio-economic change. This led to the formation of Rural Roots, a food-processing social enterprise, through which they hope to create long-term change in this region.

The turning point in their life, they said was a 15-day train journey across the length & breadth of India which changed their perceptions and opened their eyes towards the socio-economic inequality that prevails in India. In 2014, Keshav participated in the Jagriti Yatra, which helped him better understand problems in rural India. As part of this journey, he stayed overnight in a village in Deoria and this experience left an indelible impression on him. Shagun had the same experience when he went for the Yatra in 2015. They still remember being in a village with hardly any toilets, limited access to safe drinking water and people living in the most desperate conditions. It was this experience that propelled them to take an initiative to improve the conditions of people in this district.

They started Rural Roots with an aim to uplift the condition of people in Deoriaand benefit over 500 women in this region. The journey which has been great so far, initially wasn’t so easy.

“When we started the project, we undertook a survey of different villages to identify income levels and other social parameters in those villages, however, without proper roads, street addresses, and without internet in those villages, it was tough to gather the exact location of the village residents but Keshav learned a new software called “what3words” and taught this to the local team to gather the coordinates of as many survey respondents as possible.”, he said.

This was the first of the many challenges that they faced over time. The experience made them both adept at problem-solving which till date they consider as one of their key strengths. Apart from their experience, the passion that was imbibed by Jagriti Yatra through their tagline ‘Building India through Enterprise’ was what kept them going inspite of the challenges.

Today, two years later they have around 15 marginalised women who make pickles and other food items to sell. Apart from them, they even employ 2 full-time workers who manage them in Deoria. Their organization has successfully empowered women to take matters in their hands and contribute towards the growth of their families as well as the district. It was all because of their patience and support that the women are able to create ripples of change.

When asked for a message for the future yatris Shagun said, “JagritiYatra is a revolution that is transforming the youth of the country into responsible citizens. One should be part of it as it exposes them to rural India and encourages them to work for its betterment. No other organization will give you such an opportunity. Grab it and make the most of it.

For more info visit – https://www.ruralrootsindia.org/

To apply for Jagriti Yatra- http://www.jagritiyatra.com/

Crafting jewellery, creating confident craftswoman: Abira Creations

IMG-20160326-WA0006

We are at Abira, a business set up by one of our alumni- Priyanka Khandelwal. Abira creates fashion jewellery, but more importantly, creates independent, confident craftswomen. We are received with great enthusiasm by the Abira team- Abiras as Priyanka calls them.

Priyanka, tells us about how she began her enterprise. She was working with Anju Bansal in a jewellery-making business that sourced products from China. Priyanka, wanted to create this high quality jewellery in India by training women from lower economic backgrounds and with no previous experience. This was a big challenge, which she overcame by working together with the women she hired and trained. When Priyanka hires her Abiras, she looks for nothing more than the desire to work hard. The year-long training program builds on inherent skills and channels the women into jewellery-making, quality-control, marketing, accounts etc. But what is unique is how Priyanka develops the women’s personalities by teaching communication skills , teamwork and leadership. This for-profit organisation has the soul of a social enterprise.

The work areas are clean and cheerful. The walls are full of professional shots of the Abiras, modelling the jewellery they have created . They look stunning. The photographs too, are taken by one of them- an Abira training to be a photographer. There are 25 women working with Priyanka today and she plans to grow her business by also training women to be carers for the elderly as well as for children.

Priyanka invites the Abiras to speak. Each is surprisingly articulate and confident. They speak emotionally about how financial independence through jewellery-making is just a part of what they have gained at Abira. They have found a voice, they have found companionship and they have found the ability to live their dreams. We are moved by their heartfelt words. The impact Priyanka’s enterprise is creating is obvious.

I am reminded of the solar engineer grandmothers of the Barefoot college at Tilonia whom we meet during the Yatra. It’s the same joyful spirit and confidence that we see here. No coincidence, as the Barefoot college was a great inspiration to Priyanka when she joined the Jagriti Yatra in 2013 as a Yatri, and again in 2015 as a voluntary organiser – a part of the engine room club ERC.

The Jagriti Yatra, is an intense experiential program that inspires future young entrepreneurs to build India through enterprise. It takes the form of a 15 day pan-India journey of learning and inspiration. Each year at least 40% participants are women and 65 % from tier 3, 4 districts. After the 15 days, we organise mentorship workshops to sustain and build on the Yatra learnings. In March, we organise the Jagriti Sakhi Udyogini – events to promote women-centric enterprise, as well as networking and mentoring among Yatra alumni.

The audience today is mainly composed of Yatra Alumni and interestingly, there are more men than women. An informal discussion begins and I see networking in action. One Yatri recommends the latest NSDC programs to Priyanka. Another suggests mentors for her next horizon- training women for senior- care. Yet another puts her in touch with a potential investor. Many ask questions to understand her financial model and growth strategy and share lessons from their own ventures. All are energised by what Priyanka has created.

The event ends with delicious wada- paav, the Yatri Geet and a feeling of joy. The Yatra spirit is rekindled. I congratulate Priyanka on what she has created and wish her luck. Her response is simple – “ It’s all the effect of the Yatra”. The effort of hundreds of selfless volunteers that make the Yatra, is validated once again. The journey goes on.

Jagriti taught us the lesson of collaboration

Anmol Agarwal Yatri-2015
Anmol Agarwal, Yatri-2015

One of the greatest and vital experiential learning that was witnessed in JY15 is the importance and relevance of collaboration in life. Be it collaboration of rural people for developmental activities via Goonj or be it public private partnership at Akshaypatra. Jagriti emphasizes on the importance of team work by making 450+ yatris come together on a platform to work together and create an innovative ideology. It was very pleasing to see ‘yatris’ from diverse background across the globe  coming up together with crazy and innovative ideas. This has certainly fared well to the aim and objectives of JY as a lot of bonding actually took place and running well post Yatra too. Collaboration is the amalgamation of two different ideas, prospects, products and also it gives rise to a separate and a distinct unique ideology . It aims to strengthen the positive aspect of a person and also eliminates the negative aspect of it via synergy. An effective collaboration always leads to a win win situation but a competition may not constitute to an evolution or transformation of an idea or a person. Collaboration also provides a sense of stability and confidence to the people. Competition provides a sense of insecurity and instability to the people and organization as a whole. Competition has been instrumental in providing better and effective quality to people and also enhanced results. However it cannot match the advantages of collaboration of providing unity, diversity and integrity in the society.

 – Anmol Agarwal

Yatri -2015

जागृति यात्रा- एक यादगार सफ़र…

आदित्य पाटनी, यात्री- 2015
आदित्य पाटनी, यात्री- 2015

एक सुखद सफ़र अंतहीन यादों का, अनगिनत हसीन पलों का, जो जीवन भर हमारे साथ रहेंगे। उद्यमिता के द्वारा भारत निर्माण 475 यात्रियों के साथ रेल के सफ़र में जिसकी शुरुआत 24 दिसम्बर को रात 12 बजे सपनों के शहर मुम्बई से हुई। नया जोश, नई उमंग, अनजाने साथी पर सभी एक ही लक्ष्य को पाने के लिए दृढ़ संकल्प। गांधी जी के सिद्धांतों पर आधारित जागृति यात्रा हमारे राष्ट्र को जानने की, पहचानने की और सबसे अहम हमारे भारत वासियों द्वारा किये गए राष्ट्र निर्माण के अतुल्य कार्यों को जानने की और उनसे आगे बढ़ने की सीख की।

जीवन का अनूठा अनुभव भारतीय रेल के 18 डब्बों की रेल हमारा घर बन गया। खाना-पीना, गाना-बजाना, मौज-मस्ती, यारी-दोस्ती और भी बहुत कुछ। दोस्ती भी ऐसी मानो बचपन से ही साथ है।जहाँ हर यात्री एक प्रेरणा स्रोत है। विज्ञान, प्रौद्योगिकी, कला, शिक्षा, साहित्य, चिकित्सा आदि अनेक क्षेत्रों से विविधता वाले सह यात्री। कोई कश्मीर से तो कोई कन्याकुमारी से  कोई कच्छ से तो कोई सिल्लीगुड़ी से। पर विविधता में एकता मध्य भारत में उद्यमिता का विकास। ग्राम विकास, कलकेरी संगीत विद्यालय, अरविन्द आई केयर, अक्षय पात्रा जैसे राष्ट्र निर्माण के कार्य हमारे लिए सीख है कि अगर कुछ करने की चाह है तो हर मंज़िल आसान है। कोई भी कार्य छोटा नहीं है, नीवं जितनी मजबूत होगी ऊपर बनने वाला मकान उतना ही मज़बूत होगा।

2015 की वो आख़िरी शाम, ओडिशा के गंजम ज़िले का गुमनाम आदिवासी गाँव, स्कूली बच्चों के साथ नाच-गाना, अनगिनत खुशियाँ, मुस्कुराहटें उन नन्हें-मुन्ने बच्चों के चेहरों पर हमारे लिए एक प्रेरणा, जीवन के आभावों में भी खुश रहने की आनंदमय जीवन जीने की, आगे बढ़ने की हमारे लक्ष्य की प्राप्ति के लिए। जागृति यात्रा 2015 जो एक यादगार सफ़र बन कर हमारी ज़िन्दगियों मेें शामिल रहेगी और हमें आगे बढ़ने की प्रेरणा देगी ।

– आदित्य पटनी की कलम  से !!

(यात्री-2015)

A day in the life of an Udyam Corp

Being a part of the nation building process is exciting as well as challenging, and at the same time it gives a feel of contentment. That explains why the job of an Udyam Corp attracts passionate individuals who want to use their skill set and professional expertise in building a better nation.

Wondering who is an Udyam Corp? In simple words, Udyam Corps are the ground soldiers in Jagriti Entrepreneurial Network. Their workspace shifts from under a banyan tree in a rural village to lavishly created corporate institutions. They deal with top notch business magnets as well as spend time with struggling rural farmers. They enjoy high professional growth while contributing to nation building on a greater level.

Udyam Corps are those selected employees who work at the grass root level in chosen locations, to promote the enterprise eco system by facilitating the support system for small and medium businesses. They act as connectors between grass root level small and medium business owners to top level managements. Furthermore, they make sure to utilise the wide and diverse network of yatris of Jagriti Yatra in every aspects of business formation and the entrepreneurial journey that follows as well.

A day in the life of an Udyam Corp is never confined to a designated office space. They work and interact with people on locations where Jagriti Entrepreneurial Centre focuses on. Enhancing local collaborations is one of the primary responsibilities of Udyam Corps. The rural folks often lack opportunities to intermingle with people from the outside world and that keeps them in dark. Udyam Corps create opportunities for the villagers to meet with successful individuals, and also to know about the advancements happening around the world in their field of work.

While creating awareness about entrepreneurship, Udyam Corps ensure that they cultivate a strong bonding with the people to help them out in excelling in their field of business. Apart from analysing the business model, they help them in value chain analysis, cost benefit analysis, pricing, etc. In short, they act as a business consultant for the unprivileged people in Middle India, and that is where the analytical excellence and professional exposure of the Udyam Corps matter. The job of Udyam Corp is extended to ensuring that proper support reaches the entrepreneur on terms of funding, technology, resources, etc.

To be an Udyam Corp you need to have a strong passion towards developing Middle India, other than professional experience and academic excellence. Leadership qualities, organisational management, capability to adapt to challenging situations, etc also matters. By boosting the entrepreneurial ecosystem, JEN hopes to meet the goal of enterprise led government.

‘Revolution should be evergreen’

Destination 4: M S Swaminathan Foundation, Chennai

‘The talk over green revolution is ending. Now it is time for evergreen revolution.’ As goes the message from the father of green revolution, M S Swaminathan. The fourth destination of Jagriti Yatra, on its sixth day, was at M S Swaminthan Research Foundation, Chennai, during when the founder himself gave a lecture on agriculture revolution.

His message for the yatris goes as, ‘Jagriti Yatra is a wonderful idea, as you get the glimpse of India, the diversity and pluralism, and the pluralism is the strength of India. Diversity of people, languages, cuisines; we must nurture it, protect it, promote it. Make the best of everyday you have left on the yatra.’

Yatris had a great opportunity to visit the institution dedicated to research on sustainable agriculture and rural development. It was started in 1988 with an aim to accelerate use of modern science for agricultural and rural development for development and dissemination of technology to improve the lives and livelihoods of tribal and rural communities.

Yatris who have selected agriculture as their vertical of interest had an unforgettable day spending on the premises of the research institution. The speech was enlightening as well.

The yatra has crossed over five destinations by now, and the excitement of yatris is not setting down and that makes Jagriti Yatra the journey of life time.

Focus on healthcare on third role model visit

Destination 3: Arvind Eye Care, Madurai

The importance of health care can never be minimised on any conditions and in a developing country like India the government cannot alone meet the health care needs of its people, given its growing population, income status and inadequate infrastructure. That is why entrepreneurial ventures in healthcare sector is really a need of the hour.

Dr. Venkataswamy, founder of Arvind Eye Care, wishes to establish an alternate health care model that could supplement the efforts of the government and also be self supporting. The third destination of Jagriti Yatra 2015 focused on the health care sector, and yatris spent a day analysing and understanding Arvind Eye Care and AuroLab.

Situated in the temple city of Madurai, Arvind Eyecare has become the final word for best eye care treatment for almost four decades now. Aurolab, started in 1991, is a pioneer in the production of high quality ophthalmic consumables at affordable prices to developing countries.

A visit to Arvind eye care and the interaction with the founder made the third role model visit of Jagriti Yatra wonderful and inspiring.

अरविन्द आई केयर :- एक संस्मरण

जब तक मैं यह लिखूंगा, तब तक जागृति यात्रा का आंठवा संस्करण ‘मंदिरों और कवियों के शहर’ मदुरई में अपने पड़ाव‘अरविंद आई हॉस्पिटल’ से निकल कर चेन्नई की ओर अग्रसर होगा ।

Arvind eye careArvind eye care1

मुझे २०१० में जगृति यात्रा के माध्यम से ‘अरविंद आई केयर’ से रूबरू होने का अवसर प्राप्त हुआ और फिर २०११ में  पुनः इंजन रूम क्लब (engine room club) के साथ मैं यहाँ आया । दोनों मौकों पर मुझे अरविंद आई केयर के संस्थापक डॉ. वेंकटस्वामी के बारे में जानने का अवसर मिला और यही मेरे लिए यात्रा में सबसे ज़्यादा प्रभावशाली अनुभव रहा । टालने योग्य अंधापन हमेशा से ही भारत की स्वास्थ्य सम्बन्धी समस्याओं में मुख्य रूप से चिंता का विषय रहा है | भारत जैसी विकसित होते देश की सरकार के लिए भी अकेले इससे निपटना काफी नहीं है। इन सबको ध्यान में रखते हुए डॉ. वेंकटस्वामी ने एक ऐसे वैकल्पिक स्वास्थ्य प्रतिरूप की कल्पना की जो न कि केवल सरकार द्वारा चल रही मुहिमों का संपूरक हो अपितु आत्म-निर्भर भी हो । इसी को ध्यान में रखतेहुए  डॉ. वेंकटस्वामीने 1976 में 58 वर्ष कि उम्र में GOVEL ट्रस्ट एवं Aravind Eye Hospital की स्थापना की ।  (अस्पताल का नाम श्री अरबिंदो के नाम पर रखा गया ।) उनकी कहानी सारे बहानों को नष्ट कर देती है । उनका कथन “बुद्धिमत्ता एवं क्षमता होना ही काफी नहीं हैं, वे कुछ सुन्दर करने का एहसास भी होने चाहिए” मेरे लिए प्रेरणा स्त्रोत है।

Arvind eye care2

अरविंद आई केयर में कदम रखने मात्र  से ही एक ऐसा अनुभव प्राप्त  हुआ जिसको शब्दों में बयान करना मेरी कल्पना से परे हैं । यहाँ मुझे करुणा, सौहार्द, आभार, विनम्रता,  निष्ठा,  दूसरों  की  निःस्वार्थ सेवा,आध्यात्मिक चेतना और आधुनिक तकनीक का परस्पर सामंजस्य देखने को मिला। मेरे आस पास का सम्पूर्ण वातावरण सकारात्मक ऊर्जा से भर गया । नवचेतना का संचार हुआ। शायद दुनिया को देखने का मेरा नजरिया बदल चुका  था । वहाँ से जाते जाते मेरी नज़र एक चिट्ठी पर गई, जो एक उपचार के लिए आए रोगी ने लिखी थी :-

arvind 4

Arvind 5

                                                                                               – मयंक जैन (पूर्व यात्री)

Public transport solution app from our yatripreneur

#meettheyatripreneur –Prashanth Garapati

Prasanth Garapati, an IIIT student, was one among our youngest yatris in Jagriti yatra 2013. It is hardly two years, and he has embarked on an entrepreneurial journey with a wonderful solution provider mobile app for the problems you face in public transport system.

Commut, the ride sharing app, helps customers to book a seat in the 12 seated vehicle or mini-bus, and enjoy the ride at one by fourth of the price they pay while hiring a cab. The mini bus runs on predefined roads and stops at a predefined place which has been selected as per the suggestions from the customers. The running slots as of now are 8 am to 11 am and 6 pm to 9 pm in the evening.

Commut was able to get around 50-60 communters within 2 months of inception, and among which 70% are women. In order to ensure the safety of the commuters, Commut has integrated route tracking system in the app. Moreover, the drivers are appointed after verifying around ten documents along with a background check. The drivers get paid every as per the rides.

Prasanth is joining Jagriti Yatra 2015 as a resource person to motivate youngsters to forget the fear of failure and work towards their goals in life. He says, “The best takeaway for me after completing the Jagriti Yatra is to be the change if you want to change your life. I was deeply moved by the impact created by the role models before twenty or thirty years ago. Moreover, the help from the network of yatris made my journey easier.” He will travel and interact with yatris on the train for four days to give inspiration to yatris.