Smile Foundation is an NGO in India directly benefitting over 750,000 children and their families every year, through more than 350 live welfare projects on education, healthcare, livelihood and women empowerment, in over 1000 remote villages and slums across 25 states of India.
Education is both the means as well as the end to a better life: the means because it empowers an individual to earn his/her livelihood and the end because it increases one’s awareness on a range of issues – from healthcare to appropriate social behaviour to understanding one’s rights – and in the process help him/her evolve as a better citizen.
Doubtless, education is the most powerful catalyst for social transformation. But child education cannot be done in isolation. A child will go to school only if the family, particularly the mother, is assured of healthcare and empowered. Moreover, when an elder sibling is relevantly skilled to be employable and begins earning, the journey of empowerment continues beyond the present generation.
Realizing this, Smile Foundation an NGO in India, beginning in the corridors of education, adopted a lifecycle approach of development, focusing its interventions on children, their families and the larger community.
Smile Foundation believes that unless members of the civil society are involved proactively in the process of development, sustainable change will not happen. Following this model of Civic Driven Change, Smile Foundation sensitizes and engages the civil society, making it an active partner in all its welfare initiatives.
Today, 8 million children in India are out of school – surrounded by poverty, illness and despair; they are fighting a daily battle for their survival. Together, we can help a child and bring hope in their lives. Together, we can bring change and make it last.
Smile Foundation Works
4. Women Empowerment
5. Empowering Grassroots
6. Child For Child
7. Special Support Programme
8. Disaster Response
Mission Education is a national level programme of Smile Foundation, which is committed to providing basic education and healthcare to underprivileged children. Smile Foundation believes that whether you are addressing healthcare, poverty, population control, unemployment or human rights, there’s no better place to start than in the corridors of education.
Education is both the means as well as the end to a better life; means, because it empowers an individual to earn his/her livelihood and the end because it increases one’s awareness on a range of issues – from healthcare to appropriate social behavior to understanding one’s rights, and in the process evolve as a better citizen.
Smile Foundation’s educational initiatives include Pre-school [3-6 yrs], Non Formal Education [6-14 yrs non-school going], Remedial Education [6-14 yrs school going] and Bridge Course [14-18 yrs drop-outs]. It works for education for underprivileged children who are under difficult circumstances, such as child labour, children of poorest of the parents, children inflicted and affected with HIV/AIDS, street and runaway children, children with rare disabilities, disaster struck children and slum children. Special emphasis is given on girl education and women education, so that they and their families get empowered.
Since its inception in 2002, more than 200,000 underprivileged children have directly benefitted from the Mission Education programme.
India has made rapid strides in the health sector since independence. However, various eye opening data from NFHS clearly indicate that access to healthcare still remains a challenge.
While the health statistics of rural India continue to be poor, the health status and access to health for the poor in urban slum dwellers has surfaced to be equally deplorable and have less than 4% of government primary healthcare facilities.
Urban slum dwellers suffer from adverse health conditions owing to mainly two reasons –first the lack of education and thus lack of awareness; and second the unwillingness to lose a day’s wage in order to reach the nearest medical facility. Healthcare for underprivileged, which is a desperate need, thus remains unaddressed.
The need of the hour is thus a two pronged approach – first to bring quality healthcare services to doorsteps of the needy and second to promote healthcare awareness and contemporary healthcare seeking behavior among the underprivileged.
In such a scenario a mobile healthcare services delivery system is the most practical mechanism. And in subscription to this view, Smile Foundation has initiated the Smile on Wheels programme. This is a unique mobile hospital programme that seeks to address problems of mobility, accessibility and availability of primary healthcare with a special focus on children and women, in urban slums and remote rural areas.
The Smile on Wheels programme has so far provided free healthcare services to more than 10 lakh children and families.
The youth comprises over one-third of the Indian population which in turn constitutes a major part of the labour force of the country. The number of underprivileged youth in India who lacks education and proper guidance is so huge that according to the reports of the Financial Express only 15% of the young graduates passing out of colleges are employable; the rest are branded unemployable.
It is not their lack of theoretical knowledge that causes this. Instead, it is the lack of right skills and attitude. There is thus, an increasing concern among the leading employers of the country, about the dearth of ready-to-deliver employees. In addition, the macro perspective affirms that, it is crucial for the energy of the underprivileged youth to be channelized properly with proper direction to aid economic growth and nation building to elude their addition to family woes, social stress and national misery.
Smile Twin E- learning Programme (STeP) is such an initiative of Smile Foundation that aims at creating a pool of young and independent people, from a section of underprivileged youth, through skill enhancement in tandem with market requirements. It is an effort towards bridging the gap between demand and supply of skilled manpower in the fast emerging services and retail sectors of modern India.
This national level programme trains the urban underprivileged youth in English Proficiency, Basic Computer Education and Soft Skills for enhancing their prospects of employment in the fast expanding retail, hospitality and BPO sectors.
So far, more than 22,600 youth have been trained and 14,500 have been placed in over 150 brands through 91 operational projects across India.
4. Women Empowerment
Various studies, as well as our experience, have shown that when we work towards women empowerment, the whole society benefits. But unfortunately in India, far from being empowered, most women are denied even their basic rights like health, education, employment and a respectable status in society.
According to a recent UNDP Human Development Report, India has a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio, the chief reason being rampant female infanticide and sex-selective abortions.
Swabhiman, meaning self-respect in English, was initiated in 2005 to address these challenges through a simple yet effective approach. The programme is specifically aimed at realization of both individual and collective self-esteem and inner strength for marginalised and socially excluded women and adolescent girls through innovative community practices.
A tailor-made strategy called the ‘4 S Model’ has been developed under Swabhiman for women empowerment. The ‘4 S Model’ is an acronym for four novel approaches, namely Seeking Healthcare as a Behaviour, Support for Education, Supporters through Male Involvement, and Sustaining the Change in Communities.
The programme identifies adolescent girls and women from the community and develops them into Change Agents, who in turn actively contribute to the community mobilization process.
So far, Swabhiman has successfully made a difference to the lives of over 500,000 women and girl children.
5. Empowering Grassroots
The growth of the non-profit sector in India in the last two decades has been phenomenal. India has possibly the largest number of active non-government, not-for-profit organizations in the world. Official estimates put the number at 3.3 million. From relief services to educational initiatives, from healthcare projects to housing organizations, grassroots NGOs work in numerous spheres which touch the daily lives of marginalized communities across the country. Engaging directly with the people, these NGOs are able to participate in the thought-making process of the communities they work with, and thus have the capacity to bring about long-term change. As such, the sector has had a substantial contribution in the nation building process.
But accelerated development soon reaches a stagnant point if it is not sustainable. Ensuring sustainability of initiatives requires a reorientation of NGOs focusing on their capacity building to attain competitiveness. This is not an easy transition, requiring NGOs to rethink and reform their programme designs, planning, fund mobilisation, fund management, and effective programme delivery. There is also a need to guide these NGOs to be able to identify and adapt with the changing national and global socio-political and economic developments which affect them. To equip and facilitate grassroots NGOs in the country to address these issues and eventually aim at achieving sustainable development at the grassroots and community level, Smile Foundation initiated Empowering Grassroots.
A national capacity building programme, Empowering Grassroots is aimed at handholding, training and enabling community based organisations (CBOs) to maximise their impact on the ground. Under ‘Empowering Grassroots’ initiative, CBOs are trained on vital issues relevant to the development sector in the country like scalability, sustainability, communication, resource mobilisation and governance by industry experts from reputed Indian and international organisations. Handholding meetings and face to face learning sessions are held round the year to help the CBOs effectively resolve their day to day operational challenges, helping achieve the highest social return on investment (SROI).
Empowering Grassroots is not only an effort to strengthen the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid in India, but also an attempt to bring transparency and accountability in the workings of the development sector at the grassroots level. So far, Smile Foundation has built the capacities of more than 5000 grassroots organisations under the initiative.
6. Child For Child
Children are the future of a nation. They are the best change agents, be it in the family or the community in which they live. It is therefore crucial to help the children, catch them young and inculcate in them feelings of empathy and conscience so that they grow up as responsible individuals. Sensing this need, Smile Foundation came up with Child For Child (CFC) programme in 2006. Sensitization of privileged children and their parents, towards the existing inequalities around them, is an important objective of CFC.
Privileged children are sensitized about the deprivation and pain endured by the underprivileged kids. CFC seeks to inculcate a conscience and value system in the children so that they grow up to become responsible citizens and change makers. Before their minds are set with age, the CFC programme tries to make them count their own blessings and understand the plight of less privileged ones. Once they start realizing the worth of the privileges they are born with, they automatically turn their thoughts towards positivity and develop the right outlook. This eventually helps them develop into not only successful but responsible individuals in life. They grow up to become significant change makers, who contribute positively to the society.
Under Child For Child programme, Smile Foundation visits various schools and conducts engaging sessions for the young minds. It sensitizes children towards various causes and let them realize their privileged status.
CFC currently reaches out to nearly one million privileged children in 900 schools spread across 417 districts of India, every year. In addition, their parents and teachers are also involved in the process. The programme has today reached out to each part of India with the exception of Lakshadweep
7. Special Support Programme
Smile Foundation constantly strives to support and empower individuals, particularly underprivileged children enabling them to meet basic ambitions of their life and realize their potential, make informed choices, resist oppression, fight for rightful existence and facilitate new possibilities and opportunities for them.
The Foundation takes up individual cases based on their immediate needs. These individuals are then given educational support, in individual capacity, who are at risk of discontinuing their studies due to impoverished circumstances and have exhibited outstanding academic record. Individuals suffering from any critical diseases are provided support for their health; specific cases are also taken for rehabilitation wherein they are given educational support, vocational training, entrepreneurship training, counseling and provision for aids and appliances.
Support for education and health is also provided to recognize those children who have performed outstanding deeds of bravery and selfless sacrifices including bravery award winners. There are over 4,200 individual children who have been supported through this programme.
8. Disaster Response
Being a disaster-prone country, India is highly vulnerable to various types of natural calamities due to its geographical positioning. According to the National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India, more than 58.6% of the country’s landmass is prone to earthquakes and over 12% is prone to floods; close to 5,700kms out of the 7,516kms long coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis; while 68% of its cultivable area is prone to droughts.
Disaster risks in India are further compounded by increasing vulnerabilities related to changing demographics, socio-economic conditions- unplanned urbanization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, climate change, and epidemics and pandemics. All these factors have created a situation where disasters seriously threaten the sustainable development of the country, besides innumerable lives and livelihoods.
Smile Foundation, with its welfare interventions focused on children and their families, responds to the call of humanity in times of such calamities under its Disaster Response programme. From the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 to the Uttarakhand floods in 2013, Smile Foundation has acted promptly to reach out and respond to the immediate needs of the disaster affected people, while also maintaining a sustainable approach to help them rebuild their lives by facilitating their education, healthcare and livelihood.
Some of the calamities during which Smile Foundation has initiated disaster response are the Tsunami, the Kashmir Earthquake, the Maharashtra floods, the Bihar floods and the Uttarakhand floods.
Great Work Smile Foundation Carry On For Your Campaign And All The Best.