Smiles All The Way!

Hallabol (19 June 2013)

It is heart-warming to know that some organizations believe education as the key to lead a dignified life and an enabler for an individual to become conscious about his or her rights. Keeping the focus on real empowerment that begins with relevant education, Smile Foundation was formed. Mr Santanu Mishra, Co-founder & Executive Trustee Smile Foundation is here on Halabol platform to talk more about it.

True growth of a society takes place when even benefits like relevant education and basic healthcare reaches the lowest wrung of population. Keeping this very thought as the base, Smile Foundation came into being with an idea to promote universal education among underprivileged children and assist in the process of embracing these children into mainstream society.

Mr Santanu Mishra, Co-founder & Executive Trustee Smile Foundation, is with Team Halabol to share about the vision of Smile Foundation.

“The realization of a group of young corporate professionals, that it was their responsibility to give back to the society, laid the foundation of Smile. We realized that our main goal and objective were to bring sustainable change in this society as a catalyst. Our work revolves around bringing changes in the lives of underprivileged children, their families and the communities. In the process, Smile Foundation tries to address the real need at the grassroots and also sensitize the civil society so that they participate proactively in this development process.”

Santanu told us that when the thought of setting up something which gives back to society was unanimously decided, the next step was what cause their team should take up.

Co-founder Mr Santanu Mishra joins Halabol platform

The question was tough as there are many problems in our society that need immediate attention.

“In our child education programme named ‘Mission Education’ we focus on bringing the children to the remedial and bridge course centres, provide them an enjoyable and effective learning, avail them with basic healthcare and also nutrition. Most of the children belong to parents who have never been to school. Hence the basic awareness about the need to go to school is missing. Secondly, they cannot take the first step towards school. So we need to sensitize and mobilize the whole communities for sending their non-school going children to our centres. Then comes the task of making the children continue studying in the centres, learn effectively and then mainstreaming them into government and public schools.”

Smile Foundation is quiet a young organization with forward-looking work culture, business ethics and inclination towards innovations. The Smile tam understands the power and potential young India has with a willingness to do something. Smile Foundation has a majority of young professionals on board who come with so much passion and willingness to make real changes. They also engage many young volunteers who contribute through various initiatives.

“The volunteers are selected by placing the requirement in our website and by sending a message through our stakeholders. A screening process is also done to enlist volunteers who are looking for meaningful engagement and are passionate about the cause. Social media also plays a big role in engaging the younger generation with their feedbacks and comments about our programs and campaigns.”

The success of Smile Foundation can be gauged from the fact that today Smile is reaching out to more than 300,000 underprivileged children, youth and women directly every year through 158 welfare projects on subjects such as education, healthcare, youth employability, and women empowerment across 25 states of India.

Santanu elaborated about its focus in coming future.

“Smile Foundation would like promote practice of good governance in the sector more intensely in near future. Application of relevant technology in achieving efficiency and cutting cost would be another area we are already working on. Making members of civil society partners in change in every developmental initiative locally is another aim. Developing and improving various models of Social Return on Investment (SROI) would be an area which will help the sector as a whole.”

It is worth mentioning that popular celebrities like Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and many big names have been associated with Smile Foundation.

When a popular and respected celebrity joins a cause in various forms, the cause gets proper visibility and it reaches out to a large audience. We have seen the impact whenever a relevant celebrity has joined the cause in sensitizing the society effectively. However a development organization needs to be credible with the real good work and the positive impact that creates.”

Santanu also believes in the power of social media and wishes to catch people young through social media with an aim to sensitizing them so that they participate in the process of development at a large scale. The foundation believes that right use of social media can make the areas of development more participatory, accountable and also sustainable.

“Social media has proved to be the most popular and convenient mode of two-way communication of our time. It has also emerged as a complementary media with respect to the conventional ones. Further, the speed and reach make social media play a significant role, provided the same advantages are used with right spirit.”

Halabol agrees with Santanu’s view and wants to march along with groups like Smile Foundation in their pursuit of Social welfare. They have a team working on the ground level as well as at administrative & corporate level.

Smile also keeps on getting associated with volunteers, interns from foreign universities, along with students from IIT, IIM etc on a regular basis every year. Indeed, reading about such a wonderful group must have fuelled our readers as well who want to contribute to the nation building and social development.

Remember, whenever we spread smiles all around; we always get multiple in return. That’s what Santanu shared in parting words.

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