Here’s Ms. Haneen Farid and Ms. Disha Panda’s story, two 17-year-old girls who are mentoring underprivileged girls to be future women leaders.
How did you both get started on your project?
Haneen: I am 17 years old. I am from Delhi Public School, Bangalore North. I am currently working with an organization called 1M1B (1 Million for 1 Billion). It is a United Nations accredited NGO. It aims to activate 1 million leaders who will impact 1 billion people to create a world with balanced prosperity. I am currently working on a project called ‘Arambha’ with my partner Disha.
I was inspired to start project Arambha because of an interview we did for a previous project called ‘Women in Corporate Leadership’. I interviewed some women in the corporate sector and enquired about the reason for only a few women in leadership roles.
I came across a woman, who was living in the slum and later started working for a big company in Mumbai. She said that her father had a simple dream to give her one meal a day. Her story inspired me and made me think that the dreams or aspirations of the underprivileged people are so small, which is very unfair. There are so many underprivileged girls who need an equal opportunity to make it big in life. I realized that through Project Arambha, I can help them change their lives.
Disha: I am Disha Panda, I study in 12th standard at Delhi Public School, Bangalore North. Haneen and I started project Arambha together under the 1M1B Future Leaders program. We aim to help girls who come from underprivileged families to become community leaders.
Around 1 or 2 years ago, I tried to do something for a community, but it didn’t go well. I regretted that I wasn’t able to do much. So I enrolled myself in this project since I saw an opportunity to do something meaningful for underprivileged girls. Also, when I came to know that we can present our project in the United Nations, New York, I was excited to join.
Please tell us more about your success on this project?
Haneen: When Disha and I started the Arambha project we didn’t know how it would turn out. We joined the 1M1B Future Leaders Program as we saw an opportunity to make some impact on society.
As a part of our project, we have developed a 3 step solution: Education, Mentoring, and Leadership. We provide financial assistance to the girls between the age of 16-22 years if they cannot afford college education. We help them through corporate sponsors and crowdfunding.
With the help of our first Corporate Sponsor ‘Himalaya Herbals’, and through our crowdfunding campaign on Impact Guru, we have managed to raise about 10 lakh rupees. Himalaya will be funding the education of 14 girls at Sparsha Trust for the next three years. Navardrusthi Development Center, Kolar is also one of our partners.
During our journey on this project, we have developed a lot of convincing power. We were successful in convincing our partners to fund our project, and recently we have made a new partnership with ‘Radiant Life’. They will also help us be supporting our cause.
We connect with the different NGOs and conduct mentoring sessions for the girls. Influential women or business leaders join us to tell their story, motivate the girls, and talk about personality development. We have conducted 14+ mentoring sessions for more than 40 girls so far.
At a later stage, we plan to conduct a leadership program, where we guide the girls to create projects of their own to solve social problems in their communities and make an impact. This is how we intend to make them community leaders.
We have helped more than 44 girls in times of Covid-19 and groomed 8 girls with leadership skills.
We are now aware of the background of these girls and have learned to empathize with them, understand their problems, and help them deal with the same.
There are so many problems around us and instead of complaining about it on social media, youngsters like us can take action
Disha: We have learned a lot of skills through this project. Since we have to work with people from the villages of Karnataka, we have to communicate in Kannada. Although my mother tongue is Kannada, I wasn’t confident to communicate in Kannada outside of home. Thanks to Arambha, I gradually became confident and now I can speak spontaneously.
Being just 17 years old, sometimes it becomes difficult to work with the elders, but we have learned to be diligent and to manage things.We have learned to be persistent and forthcoming too. We can follow up with people several times, call random people, and tell them about our project.
After the mentoring session, we often get positive feedback from the girls. This gives us a very satisfying feeling. When the girls excel in their projects, it gives us a sense of accomplishment and we feel honored to have made a difference in their lives.
Working for a community is not an easy task. Many times we have to face a backlash or don’t get the best kind of support. Youngsters aspire to be corporate and political leaders, but we can also be leaders in our communities.
What are your future plans?
Haneen: Project Arambha has been selected to present at the 1M1B Activate Impact Summit that will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2021. Meanwhile, we have to look for more NGOs and Corporate Sponsors to work with us on this project. Although being selected to present in New York is a great achievement for us, fulfilling our duties towards the project is our priority.
Recently, we were featured in the New Indian Express and our work has been acknowledged by UN-Habitat Youth on Twitter.
Disha: We are also working to make this project sustainable so that we can continue with it even after joining the college next year. We are looking for some more corporates for sponsorship, who can be a part of Project Arambha and help us in building India’s future women leaders.
How can someone work with you or join you?
Haneen: We have an Instagram page, it’s called Project Arambha. There we post information about our project and anyone can check it out.
Disha: We also have a Twitter handle – @ProjectArambha. If anyone wants to participate in our project, they can just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Women who would like to conduct a mentoring session to inspire the girls can also contact us.
Those interested in volunteering with us can also get in touch through one of the founders of Your Philanthropy Story.
Story compiled by: Nimisha Jaiswal
Edited by: Vasudha Veeranna