When I picked up CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) at Newgen Software I realized that it was not “social work” or as many have termed it “voluntary work.” It is simply, working in a sector which consists of people who are less-privileged, lack opportunities, awareness about their rights, and perhaps, have been marginalized by people like us. For years they have been living in an environment where the only thing important is to get their two meals together. If the family is large then the urgency is even greater.

To work with people or a community, that is struggling in their everyday lives, and expect them to change in a certain time frame, is a big battle for every corporate, working in the CSR domain.

However, given the worst case scenario, I feel, corporates can play a big and successful role in uplifting the underprivileged people of the society. Interestingly, corporates have a natural tendency to set systems, ideate, plan and manage resources efficiently, adopt best practices, monitor and review performances. These are much needed tools for the success of any CSR program.

We started Sadbhavna, in 2006, to help children of Newgen’s support staff and the children living in the communities around our Okhla office.

In the first few months, about forty children in the age-group of 4-12 registered for the program. After a few interactive sessions with the children we realized that they had low level of confidence, they were shy and lacked concentration and communication skills. To get these children to attend the sessions regularly, and get them involved, we organized creative and fun and team building activities, and gave away small tokens of appreciation. Newgen organized pick-up and drop taxi service for them and our office canteen provided sumptuous meals at lunchtime. The children within the first year showed remarkable improvement in their behavior. They looked happy and cheerful during the sessions, participated enthusiastically and started sharing their thoughts and problems with the volunteers and facilitators.

After a few years of these informal sessions, the older children were put in a separate group, and were sent for specially designed sessions, to focus on their overall development, through the power of education, personality development and digital literacy. Newgen volunteers, were encouraged to assist the facilitators and professional trainers during these sessions. The program for the younger kids was restructured and redesigned, keeping in mind their age, and their learning abilities.

Today, after a decade, Sadbhavna, has more than hundred children and a number of success stories. A small intervention by Sadbhavana has touched many lives and empowered many children to join the right courses in college, find the right profession and jobs.

In part 2 of this blog, I will describe how Newgen was able to scale up our Sadhbhavna efforts and impact an even greater number of lives. Please share your comments and join me here next week to learn more about our efforts!