In life, when you achieve success in reaching a good position and become financially prosperous, then it becomes your responsibility to contribute towards the upliftment of the deprived sections in the society. But there were very few people who would look at the people who were left behind after achieving success. The heroine of our aaj ki kahani not only achieved a splendid achievement but also started a unique initiative for the underprivileged children by quitting her well-deserved job. His small beginning has grown into a big organization today.
of Lucknow Pooja Rai took the lead to improve the lives of underprivileged children in India and do something for their upliftment. To make his mission a success, he first made the courageous decision to quit his high-paying job as an architect-engineer.
It started in 2015, when Pooja was in her final year of architectural engineering at IIT Kharagpur. In her spare time she volunteered at a child care center and contributed whatever she could. One day Pooja saw a heart wrenching scene, the children did not have toys to play with so they were trying to play badminton with slippers. And some were playing with the big cement pipes we often see near construction sites.
Pooja churned, “On one hand we are studying the design for constructing huge fancy buildings, and on the other, the underprivileged children here have nothing to play with.”
Pooja decides to help the children and consults with her classmates to help build the playground. Since they were all students, they could only give their time and effort. All the friends together decided to contact the alumni of the institute. He provided enough money to mobilize all the materials for the construction of the playground. Simultaneously, the care centers also agreed to build a playground. Pooja approached Michelin Tire, a leading tire manufacturer, and apprised them of her welfare ideas. Overwhelmed by his ideas, the company provided tires for the construction of the playground. And thus the playground was prepared at a cost of Rs 1 lakh.
After this, Pooja did not give much thought to the construction of playgrounds. During the campus placement, Pooja got selected as Product Manager in a startup called Stayzilla. He worked there for a year and a half and during this time he received about 300 requests to build playgrounds. Keeping these requests in mind, Pooja started seriously considering making playground construction a full-time career.
canfolios In an exclusive conversation with Pooja, she said, “As a product manager, I was already earning Rs 20 lakh annually. With a simple lifestyle, I didn’t have much to spend, and I also realized that true happiness comes from giving back and at the same time you cannot be happy if you are not interested in what you do.
So in the year 2017, Pooja quit her job and joined five of her friends. Anthill Creations Laid the foundation stone of a non-governmental organization called, which builds playgrounds across India. However, when Pooja’s parents came to know about her work, they were extremely disappointed. He was concerned that his daughter had given up a splendid career and a well-paid job and chose an unstable life. But after a few moments of doubt, he supported his daughter wholeheartedly. In the last five years, the NGO has built 283 playgrounds in 18 states of India including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
Since playgrounds are made of toys, equipment, tires and similar scrap materials, they do not take more than 4-5 days to make, and depending on the size of the playground it costs Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. It can be between Rs. Pooja shares that the NGO does not work independently and they work with local NGOs and community members in the area where the playground will be built.
She shares, “We work with individuals, community members, governments and corporates to help fund the construction of playgrounds. Although playgrounds are almost like a DIY project and made from used tires and scraps, they can last about 10 years. The NGO also trains community members to maintain the playgrounds.
Pooja researched and found that proper use of empty spaces can change people’s behaviour. She shares that everyone should welcome the idea of playgrounds. Everyone attaches great importance to education, but time away from books is equally important for children. Playgrounds help children develop physical, social and emotional skills, and we make our first friends on the playground.
We do our best to reassure the people with whom we have to work sometimes of its importance. And when people finally see the positive impact these playgrounds have on the performance and behavior of students, that is the real achievement.
Really a great initiative by Pooja along with her team. His efforts for the all-round development of the poor and underprivileged children are less to be praised.
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