Parinaam was conceived in the belief that every person - man, woman and child - deserves equality alongside basic, fundamental rights. Every Indian woman should be able to walk into a bank and be provided quality service; she should be able to take her children to a specialized hospital instead of a government facility that might not have the practitioner or facilities her loved ones need; schools should provide her children with quality education and teach them how they can move ahead in life and possibly, rewrite destiny for their families. Every Indian deserves a home, with water, power and sanitation. But alongside, every Indian deserves an identity.
Since 2006 we have been experimenting, innovating and conducting a wide range of programs that empower our beneficiaries, help transform their lives. In 2013-14 we not only found our niche through programs like Diksha - Financial Literacy Program, Urban Ultra Poor Program, Academic Adoption Program and our Savings Initiative for Education but also expanded to make our efforts beneficial to more. This led to Parinaam being recognized as a leading and respected organization in the sector.
And if there is one person who can claim credit for all this, it is Elaine Marie Ghosh, my mother.
In one of my last conversations with my mother, the late Founder and Executive Director of Parinaam Foundation, she beckoned me to her hospital bed and gently suggested that it was time for me to take over the role of Executive Director for Parinaam. My response was boosted by the positive reports we were receiving from her doctors - I vehemently opposed her suggestion and told her that there was much more I needed to learn from her. Looking back today, I realise she knew she had to hand over the responsibility she had borne for years - being a mother not only to her family but for everyone that came into her life and required the nurturing and care only an Elaine can give.
This year Parinaam will not have a 'Letter From the Executive Director'. Our accomplishments are covered in the pages that follow. This is a tribute to a woman who accomplished, without seeking acknowledgement. As James Crabtree of the Financial Times wrote, “Too often it seems that those who rise to become leaders in their particular field end up cloaking their character in management jargon and platitudes; Elaine could hardly have been accused of this. She was what we journalists describe as a dream interview; open, honest, frank, blunt even but fearless and passionate about what she wanted to do”.
After having travelled several paths (Banker, Mother, Premises Consultant, Restorer of antique furniture), my mother moved her family to Bangalore. While creating our beautiful dream home and while being associated with a number of construction projects, she worked closely with migrant laborers and was quick to realize their struggles and the hard life they lived. They were workers without an identity - not people, not Indians. Her interaction and experience inspired her to conceive Parinaam Foundation and provide a holistic approach to alleviate poverty.
She was a perfectionist - systematic, courageous and one who believed in 'tough love'. She was a patient listener for the less privileged, always ready with the right advice and approach; maybe not the easiest, but certainly the most ethical and achievable. Her clear vision matched her strong, innate sense of integrity. Her standards and her beliefs, have changed the life of thousands and has made Parinaam what it is.
Despite the emptiness and vacuum the loss of my mother has left me with, I cannot help but feel excited by what the future holds for this nation. We have a new government and there is hope that the potential of India will be harnessed to provide what this nation needs - an impetus for change. Parinaam will continue to play its small but effective role in helping that change come about.
We will continue to work with partners that believe in our work and will take on opportunities to help families that do not have the privilege of basic rights. We will advance cautiously to ensure our beneficiaries have quality service and keep tight control of our financials to maximise their sustainable well-being.
We will continue to do this with the same motto Elaine Marie Ghosh lived and worked by: “You have to step into the shoes of the poor; you have to talk to them and ask them what they think they need”.
Executive Director, Parinaam Foundation June 27, 2014