When friends, family and strangers support KHEL

Contributed by: Shinjini Singh
Dated: 15th March, 2013

Doing a crowd-funding campaign can be nerve racking. It’s never easy asking for money, even if it’s on Facebook or by e-mail. But when friends, family or complete strangers do acknowledge your effort, one’s spirit and frayed nerves are instantly renewed.

I am not in Lucknow and won’t be around for a while, because of my academic commitments. I have not been able to run around helping the rest of the team work with our stars(these incredible happy faced kids who make ‘asking for money’ seem like the easiest thing to do!) neither have I been able to help organise events, mobilise funds, plan future activities and much else. Despite this, being on the leadership team of a non-profit start-up means I get the rare opportunity of being associated with an inspired team that lives off  literally nothing but a big bouncy dream! So whenever a friend asks me about KHEL I feel a surge of energy and break into a smile!

A week ago my classmate and friend from Vietnam, Ngang Dinh who is doing her PhD on the childhood and learning experiences of Vietnamese children slipped this lovely red envelope into my palm saying ‘it’s not much Shinjini, but it’s for you all at KHEL’. Ngan perhaps doesn’t know how deeply her gesture affected me. A week before Ngan gave me her ‘little gift for KHEL’, our welfare team in college had organised a ‘customise your cupcake’ counter and bake sale for raising funds for charity. We had made a list of charities people would want to donate their cupcake coins to, there was an option of ‘other- please specify’. Claire, a friend at college was the first to sample our cupcakes; she was about to leave for a game of netball and quickly checked out the list of charities. In ‘other’, she wrote a big bold and blue KHEL. I couldn’t believe it! My friends and acquaintances had actually been following all my shout outs on facebook for funds! Claire beamed at me and said she thought KHEL was a brilliant idea and that she saw our website and wanted to stay posted about our work. This acknowledgement came at a time when I had lost all hope of ever being able to motivate friends via facebook.

Similarly, relatives who saw the potential of KHEL began to look for people or friends who could help us, they are still looking but it really means something when your circle of ‘faith and support’ begins to grow. Sometimes complete strangers ask us what we do and how they can help, anonymously they donate to a cause run by people they don’t even know! When we started our second crowd funding campaign on wishberry, I was worried if I would be able to overcome my own inhibitions in requesting financial help for KHEL, most friends ask me ‘but why don’t you get something from the international donors or companies?’, only a few understand that nobody really likes funding a start up till they have a robust programme. KHEL has delivered much more than a start-up this young (and I mean team wise too!) can, we are grateful that Mahindra helped us and that our friends voted for us! Recently, when  a friend donated generously and anonymously to our work via wishberry, she called it a ‘brave initiative’, which I believe it really is!

When we started KHEL, our Founder and Volunteer CEO, Akshai, warned us what this would mean, but of course being a happy go lucky, Miss-know-it-all, I didn’t realise when I signed up just how important making KHEL work would become for all of us. Take a ball to play with kids in a park twice a week and you’ll understand what I mean. Once you give children an opportunity to play, your hand to hold, two-three hours a week to just BE KIDS and have fun, it is painful to not be able to continue being there for them, especially when they begin to respond positively to the life-skills classes we conduct.

The children we work with aren’t like you and me; they don’t have the option or opportunity to enjoy a carefree, secure and ‘equal’ childhood the threat and reality of a future adulthood banished in a life of extreme poverty looms over their little heads. Some don’t have parents, others once lived on the street or ran away from home, some live in far off villages and can’t afford a decent warm sweater forget shoes and socks, these are the kids we work with. The kids we ask you to help-us-help with KHEL.

Do consider making a small contribution to our campaign. I can vouch for our program’s authenticity and its relevance to children’s lives, if you believe in giving honest startup’s trying to make a real difference a chance, please invest in KHEL. You will watch us grow! Check out- http://www.wishberry.in/Join-the-KHEL-15933 and see why and how you can help KHEL.