Los Gatos – In an effort to provide food and education to underprivileged children and offer meaningful employment opportunities to their mothers to get them out of poverty, Promise Worldwide, a non-profit organization, has an initial focus on an Indian village called Nawabpur, located in an impoverished area outside of Kolkata, India, and the organization is contemplating to expand to other areas as well.
India America Today caught up with Jaya Basu who is spearheading these efforts with her unflinching dedication and unsullied vision.
Lets start from the day you conceived the dream child, your Promise World Wide – when was that and what inspired you on that path?
I founded Promise Worldwide in 2001, but the idea came to me a long time ago. On a hot day at the Howrah train station in Kolkata, I bought my children each an ice cream. When they discarded the lid into the trash, immediately a swarm of children descended on the two lids in an attempt to lick what was left of the residue of ice cream. Heartbroken, I bought every child there an ice cream of their own. From this simple gesture, Promise Worldwide was born.
What is the defined mission of your organization?
Our mission is to provide food, education and training to under-privileged children and women from the slums of the world. We work to provide them with access to basic amenities and education, so that they can transform themselves into successful, independent citizens. We are working to build self-sustaining programs that will help reduce hunger, child abuse, unwanted births, diseases and create a sense of hope for these individuals.
What is the latest program that you are implementing?
Today, for as little as $20 per child per month, the child receives food, academic education, books, shoes, as well as medical and dental treatment. Promise Worldwide currently serves 200 students, and plans to increase this number to 400. The mothers of these children have been taught to knit ‘Tookies’, or dishcloths and other items made from organic cotton. This provides the women with self-esteem and a small income to help their families. Their products are marketed in the United States, and are available at Ace Hardware Stores on the West coast.
Can you explain to our readers your concern for those children and your efforts to provide them with a better future?
In Nawabpur, India, located near the border with neighboring Bangladesh, the newly mandated Indian public school system has brought a new set of challenges.
There are not enough qualified teachers to make it worthwhile to the student. Complicating the effort of convincing students to see education as a way out of poverty is that few families can afford to actually send their children to these schools, because every rupee these children make on the street helps feed, clothe, and house that family.
The children who manage to attend school ultimately do not make learning a priority, as it is widely assumed they will only end up spending their lifetime working in a menial job.
We are working to change this perception and bring about an awareness that education helps change conditions in the long run.
What is your bigger vision for the project?
We envision expanding our program to meet the critical need of services to other impoverished neighborhoods surrounding Kolkata, such as Atghara. To enhance Promise Worldwide’s capacity to provide additional charitable services such as food, clothing, education, tutoring, and medical attention to these impoverished children, we must expand and increase our funding resources.
Currently the academic classes and all child-related activities are held in a rented space. Promise Worldwide envisions extending its services to serve 200 wait-listed students. Proposed infrastructure includes construction of a school building and provision of needed equipment for key programs and classes to accommodate a range of subjects.
In addition to working with this project in India, do you also devote time to volunteer work in the US?
Yes, I am an active Rotarian in Los Gatos Rotary Club and used to do volunteer work in our school district. I also volunteer in our local youth correctional facility.
Have you applied or worked with any US government agencies, as the Obama Administration is very intent on helping agencies like yours?
Yes, recently we applied to USAID but our application was refused. I am very interested in working with the Obama Administration. I am a great supporter of President Obama and look forward to having all possible help from this government. (IATNS)