Jaswinder Singh and Sonal Kapoor have been working to provide a holistic education to children in New Delhi, India’s capital city, through their work at Protsahan, a not-for-profit founded in 2010.
Jaswinder Singh and Sonal Kapoor have been working to provide a holistic education to children in New Delhi, India’s capital city, through their work at Protsahan, a not-for-profit founded in 2010. The organization primarily targets children living in slums but over the years it has grown to combine children from different backgrounds. Kapoor, the founding director of Protsahan, has received national and international acclaim for her impact on the lives of vulnerable children across the country. Kapoor is also credited for integrating youth into her organization; she is often seen collaborating with students at universities and young professionals in corporate offices. Over the years, Protsahan has seen a spike in the number of young volunteers from across the country.
Kapoor’s meeting with a young pregnant mother of six daughters was the motivation behind her inception of Protsahan. The mother spoke about sending her eight-year-old daughter to work at the brothel so she could feed the rest of her family. “Sonal was so shocked that within the hour, the idea of starting a unique creative school had started taking shape. Within three weeks, after a small feasibility study in the area, Protsahan started as a one room creative arts and design school in one of the darkest slums of the country, in the heart of the capital city New Delhi. These slums are described by the best newspapers of the country as ‘ghettoes’,” says the Protsahan website. With its operations close to where their target audience is, Protsahan has rescued more than 800 girls and integrated them into its formal school. Approximately 68 girls have been saved from child marriage; and, 19,800 girls have received education and awareness on child rights, prevention of sexual abuse and menstrual hygiene.
Creative education and entrepreneurial skills training is the thrust behind Protsahan’s success with children. The organization teaches them design, art, digital stories, photography, technology and cinema. “We use simple techniques, but with a difference. We use scrabble to teach them English, cartoons and photographs to keep the interest alive, game and art based education, digital storytelling to make teaching a fun process. Our sole mission is to encourage creative education and skills development through creative design thinking approaches,” Kapoor mentions to Ashoka, a network of changemakers around the world.
Starting with a classroom of 23 children with her own savings, Kapoor, one of the youngest social advocates for child rights in India, increased her class size through various programmes with families living in the slums. One of these programmes called Food for Work has made a heavy influence on the lives of women. Kapoor tells a media organization, “When as a young team we couldn’t pay them hard cash for their work, I thought of an idea. All the volunteers went to homes asking for people to donate dry food grains. We used these as a payback to the women working on handicrafts. That way, we were able to eradicate hunger from those starving families and at the same time didn’t have to spend a penny as a part of their wages/salaries. The organization is making these women financially independent by providing a platform for them to sell lamps, clothes, bags and more.”
Corporate funding brings bigger opportunities for expansion at Protsahan. Kapoor mentions that in the coming decade, the organization aims to reach out to at least 10,000 families by next year. “To achieve such scales of operation, Protsahan is aware of the need to venture into new things, and not continue doing only more of the same. This requires a radical shift in stance, becoming more outward-focused in goals, more proactive in collaborations, and more aggressive in building synergies with corporates,” the young activist adds.
To support Protsahan, visit: www.protsahan.co.in