When I addressed you last, Parinaam was a fledgling organisation, struggling to find a purpose for its existence and wondering where it would find the means to give substance to its dreams. Today I feel very proud to be able to report that that the flower-bud has blossomed and the end result not only sweetens the environment with its fragrance but its beauty is there for its beneficiaries and supporters to admire. Sure, our tireless Executive Director does complain about the eternal shortage of funds, the tensions caused by the unending procedures that need to be followed to achieve anything at all and the stresses generated by trying to balance the results to be achieved with the resources available, but at the end of it all Parinaam has not only grown beautifully but most of its programs are so innovative as to be the envy of its colleague organisations in the field. Its work and the success of its programs has in no small measure, also benefitted the results and the reputation of its partner organisation, Ujjivan Financial Services.
Parinaam has succeeded because it has not bitten off more than it can chew--a common failing with many NGOs. We decided that we would mainly focus in three major areas of work--Education, Livelihoods and Healthcare. We believe that these three areas of work are the most essential to uplift and raise the quality of life of the very poor and those who qualify for the grant of micro-finance loans. In doing so, not only do they raise their own standing and dignity in society but place themselves in a better position to discharge their debts and raise their financial standing. As often happens among the poor, getting into difficult financial straits is not necessarily caused by not earning enough money. More often it is reckless and wasteful spending that causes the problems. Our COO, Mallika Ghosh, and her team have done a wonderful job in developing a most innovative "Financial Literacy Program - Diksha" to resolve this problem. When we started administering it two years ago we could only manage to train 4000 odd people annually. However last year it took off and with the help of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Citi Foundation we were able to train over 60,000 people. Even the Reserve Bank of India called on Parinaam to share its’ concepts and learnings so the RBI could implement them in its own bank financial literacy program.
Our Urban Ultra Poor Program which was limping along a couple of years ago has suddenly now found the wherewithal to help a much larger number of the poorest of the poor to lead a more dignified life and educate their children in good schools. After all, the main purpose of living is to be happy and find ways to bring joy into the lives of our children and neighbours. Unfortunately, we have failed miserably for so many generations that when one witnesses selfless people like Elaine, Mallika and the many, many dedicated members of their teams bring joy and happiness to a large number of unhappy souls, year after year, it stirs the cockles of one's heart. This is the sort of satisfaction that mere financial rewards can never bring. It is far reaching and deeply stirring.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank, most profusely, our generous benefactors, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Citi Foundation, Sequoia Capital India Operations LLC, Ms Sarah Owen-Vandersluis, the sponsors of the education of our children, Ujjivan Financial Services and so many others who keep us going with their gifts of cash, kind and services. THANK YOU ONE AND ALL!!
With your support and help I am sure that we can look forward to a wonderful year ahead.