Changing the world by touching one life at a time – Youngistaan Foundation
Youngistaan foundation was started by Arun Daniel in 2014 with the goal of changing the world by touching one life at a time. It is a volunteer-run organization having more than 5000 volunteers all over the world. The organization works towards the UN Sustainable Goals of Zero Hunger, No Poverty, Gender Equality, Quality Education, Good Health and Well Being, Responsible Consumption and Production and Partnership for Goals.
In an interview, Mr. Arun said “There are a lot of people in need and people ignore people’s need”. Also there are many young people who want to help but do not find a platform to do so at their schools and colleges. Also, youngsters do not find any encouragement and opportunity to help the needy. Youngistaan foundation not only provides a social service platform and encouragement to volunteers but also provides a great service to humanity through its various projects.
Food and Hunger Program
The organization was started with feeding people living on the streets. With a small amount obtained by collecting Rs 1000 per month to buy food packets from restaurants, the volunteers started feeding hungry people. To their surprise, they found people who were hungry for 3-4 months and were dying of hunger. Later they started collecting food from restaurants and distributing it to 300 homeless people on every Sunday and then twice a week. This is how their Food and Hunger program started in the slums.
Mr. Arun then described the Transformers Program of the organization. This program is targeted towards young people, who are homeless, abandoned by their families, and have lost their self-worth. The volunteers transform the lives of such youngsters by telling them the importance of personal hygiene for themselves, to get good jobs and earn their living.
The volunteers work on the physical appearance of people by giving them haircuts and new clothes, so that they may look presentable and smart. While executing this program, the volunteers have come across individuals who had not taken a shower for two years
Home for the Homeless
Mr. Arun related the sad and horrifying stories that he and his volunteers had come across. He remembers a 10-year-old boy whom they found at the railway station. The boy had blood all over his pants. On asking him about his condition the boy said that he was abused by some people on the train. The volunteers rescued the child and sent him to a shelter home.
In addition, the volunteers have rescued many girls and sent them to shelters. They also rescue elderly people on the streets who have been abandoned by their children, and send them to old age homes.
Bright Spark Education Program
The organization helps school going children in slums through the Bright Spark Education program by spending time with them, talking to them and teaching them various things. The volunteers not only teach and help the children with their regular home work but also help them with Social Emotional Learning (SEL).
Youngistaan Animal Heroes
This program is all about speaking to school children and ladies on respecting and loving animals and not abusing them.
Children of Courage
In this program, the volunteers go to different government girl schools in Hyderabad and Telangana creating awareness about menstrual hygiene. They ask girls to use sanitary napkins. They also encourage them to reach out to local police or to Youngistaan volunteers, in case of eve teasing and child abuse.
The volunteers talk to children and encourage them to speak up and stand up for themselves. The boys, as well as girls, are advised not to go out from home after 8:00 PM because boys are also abused. The boys are told to respect women and stand up for them.
Future Plans and Funds Requirements
Mr. Arun said that the stories they lived are many more than he could speak about. He wants to tell people to stand up for other people and to encourage people to love each other and be kind to each other. He quoted Mother Teresa and said that you can start small and do small things with great love by helping people around.
Discussing his future plans, Mr. Arun said that most children in slum areas only get a mid-day meal. The children in slums miss their breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day. He said that the organization wants to start a structured food program in which they want to reach out to millions of children through government schools.
He also wants to set up a Skill Development Center for young people. However, for all these programs, the organization needs funds so that they can have full-time employees working for the organization. He said that without spending much money they have done several campaigns that include voting campaigns too, and they can do much better and produce a great impact if they have funds.
He said that funds from the corporate sector can be a big advantage. However, in the current scenario, the contribution of the corporate sector is not much. He also said that he wants to partner with other NGOs instead of working separately to achieve the higher goal of service to humanity.