Equip Low Income Parents. Empower the Future of India | Milaap

Equip Low Income Parents. Empower the Future of India

The Story of Sanju Didi - Creating an enabling environment for her children one activity at a time

Tucked away behind imposing office buildings in Okhla (Delhi) lies a narrow lane almost invisible to people, leading to a maze of narrow streets, densely packed with houses. Here, resides Sanju Devi along with her family of seven, in a miniscule room on rent. Two people cannot move comfortably without displacing ten other things here.

“The reason why we came to Delhi was to get better education, environment than what one gets in the village. I don’t want my children to become like me; they should study well. They should become something in life and have self-belief/confidence. Children learn better here but I don’t know how we will take care of 5 children in Delhi” (English)

Amidst her daily stresses of storing water, access to a bathroom and cooking meals, being part of Meraki’s program is crucial for her. Her enthusiasm is visible when she volunteers for the different activities conducted in the workshop. She addresses her issues during support visits and engages with our technology on a regular basis, by interacting with our BOT post-workshop. Catch her in action:

“Earlier, I used to be stressed always. I would vent my frustration on my children by scolding them. I wouldn’t talk to them. But change has happened since I’ve started coming to the meeting. I always remember what activity to do and when. I have put in a structure now, a routine, when I sit with my child to do the activities sent by Meraki. This has helped me set a timetable with my children. My children also remember what they have to do when.” (English)

Her active participation during and after the workshops validates the direction of our intervention. Support visits with her challenge us to think deeply about assistance parents like her require beyond just activities. She recently conveyed how she tries to make her own activities after the program gets over by looking through the kits and recalling the knowledge she has received through our workshops. Amazing.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Meraki Update: Where we are today:
There are 1500 other stories, similar to Sanju didi’s, that Meraki has had the pleasure to work with in the past. Because of your support and the work that we’ve been able to put in, we’ve seen some great impact. Here’s a snippet:
  1. Meraki parents when compared to non-meraki parents are better aware of their child’s own development (Across cognition, language, socio-emotional aspects)
  2. Meraki parents are more aware of their role in their child’s development and the steps they need to take to aid that development
  3. Meraki parents are more confident in their ability as parents.
As a result, we’ve seen Meraki children perform better cognitively and in language, when compared to Non-Meraki children.




This is our first step towards building knowledge and evidence for support that low-income parents need in the developing world.

But we're only at the tip of the iceberg and there are miles to go before we make a big dent in the education universe. To put things into perspective, currently we serve only 0.3 % of target population in Delhi. Our aim is to reach all parents of 2-6 year old children in Delhi by 2022.

In order to do that, this year, we are targeting to reach 3% of target population by working in around 200 pre-schools (Anganwadis) of Delhi. It is a herculean task for our team. But we’ve been blessed by support from the following partners:
1. This year, we got support from Cisco to help build Meraki’s tech for our Margdarshaks and Anganwadi Workers.
2. We are also on-boarding University of Chicago to Meraki’s program who will provide monitoring, evaluation and impact measurement support to us this year.
3. Delhi government has been of great support to us as well as we look to raise our impact by 10x.

Help us get to 10x our past coverage, this year.

Here’s why we think we’re holding up our end of the promise we made to you. A few of our achievements, this year were:
  1. We were declared: Global Winner, World Changing Ideas in  Education by Fast Company
  2. Selected to represent India at Global Social Venture Competition by UC Berkeley
  3. 1 of 6 organisations shortlisted, globally, to present at Global Lego Ideas conference, Denmark by Lego Foundation 

How Can You Help? 
You can help in multiple ways, two of them are outlined below.

1. Funds: No amount is too small. In order to help you make an informed decision and to select a cause, we have shared with you the breakdown of the costs. In case of any questions/queries please reach out to us here.
 
To support learning, empowerment of
  • 1 parent and 1 child for a year, donate 1500 Rs.
  • 10 parents and children for a year, donate 15000 Rs.
  • 100 parents and children for an year, donate 150000 Rs

In case you would like to donate on a monthly basis, please write to us here

2. If you believe in what we do, please share our story with your friends and relatives. This is as much an awareness campaign as it is a fundraiser.

This is the Whatsapp message you can promote on your personal/professional networks:

*Equip Low Income Parents. Empower the Future of India*
If you had to choose between putting food on your table and spending quality time with your infant, which one would you choose?  This question, much like their genes, is passed on from one generation to the other in most under-resourced families. Laxmi didi's (a maid and a mother of 3) father faced it, she herself faces it and sadly it is more than likely that Maya, Laxmi didi's daughter, will face that question too.

Yet, hope of a better life keeps her going.  “When I saw my child for the first time, I promised to myself that she will be successful in life. I don’t want her to clean other people’s houses like I do” Laxmi Didi and her husband  dream of a better life for Maya, a day when all of this struggle would be worth it...

1. To know more and support Meraki's cause, read about us here: merakifoundation.in
2. Support our Milaap campaign - https://milaap.org/fundraisers/merakifoundation
3. To support via Paytm (for Android users only) - https://paytm.com/?comment=originId_15605&amount=2500&amount_editable=1

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For new readers, read more about the problem below:
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Raising Children in low income communities - Through the eyes of Laxmi Didi

If you had to choose between putting food on your table and spending quality time with your infant, which would you choose? 

This question, much like their genes, is passed on from one generation to the other in most under-resourced families. Laxmi didi's father faced it, Laxmi didi faces it and it is more than likely that Maya, Laxmi didi's daughter will face it too.

The Unsettling Truth
“When I saw my child for the first time, I promised to myself that she will be successful in life. I don’t want her to clean other people’s houses like I do”
Laxmi Didi and her husband  dream of a better life for Maya, a day when all of this struggle would be worth it. Sadly, financing this dream keeps them on a gruelling schedule, resulting in:
  • Neglect of their children’s physical and emotional needs
  • Low literacy levels of children
  • Stressful home environment
Be it the illiteracy or lack of time, it is virtually impossible for Laxmi didi to help with her children’s education. As a result, Maya, Laxmi didi’s daughter is struggling. But Maya is not alone.

“I’ve seen other people’s children just roaming around as their parents are at work. These children don’t get appropriate care since their parents don’t have time to look after them” shares Laxmi didi.

According to the UN, lack of care and focus on early childhood education and care results in:
  • 250 million children in the world under 5 are at risk of not reaching their full potential
  • Poor early stimulation and care results in 25% reduction in average adult earning potential
In India
  • Almost 60% children under 5 are anaemic
  • 68% grade 3 children are unable to read simple words in English
Parents in low income communities are unable to provide appropriate care or set up or afford proxies to care for their children. This inability comes at the cost of their ambition; ambition of better education for their children and thereby a better life.

There are approximately 74 million parents like Laxmi didi in India. This situation needs external intervention.

Here's where Meraki comes in.
 
Meraki aims to equip parents to transform their children's lives. It aims break the cycle of intergenerational burden that disadvantaged families carry.

Meraki works with low-income families on:
  • Building Responsive Parent-Child Relationships
  • Development of Core Life-skills in Children
  • Stress Reduction in Caregivers
This is delivered through a layered intervention comprised of Content, Training & Technology. Together, these layers act as a singular solution to strengthen relationships at home and improve development outcomes for the children of low-income households.

Read more about how we do this here.

 
Ask for an update
20th November 2018



Your support has helped us make incredible progress. Here are some major updates:

  1. Anganwadi Program Begins: Months of iteration and testing finally came to fruition with the launch of our Anganwadi program this August. These parents will be the first to work with our updated learning materials, improved IVRS technology and our custom-built BOT. 
  2. Our Founder presented at the National Seminar on Early Childhood Education & Care: We were selected for our innovative practice involving parent engagement in the Early childhood care and education (ECCE) domain. It was an excellent opportunity to interact with experts from the space!
  3. Received coverage in India Development Review (IDR): Parent centred programs are crucial to tackle the crisis of care and learning that engulfs India. All it needs is for the educational paradigm to accommodate a slightly different view: To educate children let’s start with parents. In this article, Meraki's founder, Seemant outlines why.
  4. For more internal updates, head to our quarterly newsletter!
We are fired up to reach more parents, but need more firepower. Help us stride further by donating here.





Your support has helped us make incredible progress. Here are some major updates:

  1. Anganwadi Program Begins: Months of iteration and testing finally came to fruition with the launch of our Anganwadi program this August. These parents will be the first to work with our updated learning materials, improved IVRS technology and our custom-built BOT. 
  2. Our Founder presented at the National Seminar on Early Childhood Education & Care: We were selected for our innovative practice involving parent engagement in the Early childhood care and education (ECCE) domain. It was an excellent opportunity to interact with experts from the space!
  3. Received coverage in India Development Review (IDR): Parent centred programs are crucial to tackle the crisis of care and learning that engulfs India. All it needs is for the educational paradigm to accommodate a slightly different view: To educate children let’s start with parents. In this article, Meraki's founder, Seemant outlines why.
  4. For more internal updates, head to our quarterly newsletter!
We are fired up to reach more parents, but need more firepower. Help us stride further by donating here.


27th January 2018
THE POWER OF PARENT ENGAGEMENT
BY SAGRA ALVARADO ON JANUARY 24, 2018 10:48 AM
(from Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), News and Events)

https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/18/01/power-parent-engagement

Alum Ghazal Gulati's nonprofit equips parents in India with skills and strategies to help guide their children to academic success.

Ghazal Gulati, Ed.M.’15, is dedicated to improving student wellbeing and achievement in India, one parent at a time.While national governments, schools, and local leaders can provide resources to enhance educational opportunities for students, Gulati realized there is one frequently overlooked stakeholder — parents.

“We have to help parents understand what their stake is in the game,” says Gulati, co-founder and full-time COO of Meraki, a nonprofit based in the Delhi area that aims to ensure that parents have a voice in their children’s education, providing them with the tools necessary to help their children do well in school. Meraki’s mission: “Equipping parents. Empowering the future.”

Gulati first noticed that not all children had the same educational opportunities when she was a child and her family moved to Delhi as a result of the escalating violence in their native Kashmir. She became aware that, due to her parents’ professional degrees and their general awareness of the importance of education, she was provided more academic and economic advantages than many children in her new city.

“It is not fair that some children are born into families with educational backgrounds geared toward academic success while others are left to their own devices to figure the education system,” Gulati says, noting that in order to create a more equitable environment, parents first need to be made aware that there are things they can do to aid their children’s learning. “All parents have high aspirations for their children, the only difference amongst parents is their education levels.”

While at HGSE, Gulati learned about the issue of “supply and demand” in the Indian education system in Professor Fernando Reimers’ course on educational policy. “The government can supply the schools, the teachers, but no one is looking at the demand side of the equation and how to trigger parent engagement, so the schools are carrying the burden,” says Gulati.

This is a problem that Meraki is meeting head-on by recruiting parents to participate in its offerings through their children’s schools. The fellowship program lasts four months and focuses first on parents with children enrolled in kindergarten and the first grade because, Gulati explains, brain development during this time is crucial and needs to be addressed in the beginning phases of students’ education.

Using curriculum provided by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, leaders guide parents through bi-weekly workshops that focus on reducing stress, improving the responsiveness of relationships, and building core life skills. Following each workshop, parent and child must work together on four assigned activities in which they develop skills and strategies that will help lead them to academic success.

The hope is that, as fellowship alumni, parents will become leaders in their communities, passing on to others what they learned in the Meraki workshops. This past year, the organization has worked with 900 parents in several under-resourced communities in South Delhi achieving more than 70 percent retention of parents in each workshop.
As Meraki grows, Gulati is grateful for the lessons learned at HGSE that she was able to apply to the endeavour, particularly one she took from a leadership course taught by Professor Monica Higgins.

“Spend enough time understanding the context. In Professor Higgins’ class we analyzed case studies about so many good ideas that failed because they failed to understand the other stakeholders in the ecosystem,” says Gulati, explaining that during the launch of Meraki, her team spent six to eight months interviewing parents, schools, teachers, and principals across India to understand the challenges of the communities.

As “you don’t act alone in the ecosystem,” this lesson is vital, she says. “Our goal is to build a movement of parent leaders working across sectors to mobilize systemic change at the community level on issues of child development.”


Photo: Ghazal Gulati (left) conducts a Meraki parent workshop. 

THE POWER OF PARENT ENGAGEMENT
BY SAGRA ALVARADO ON JANUARY 24, 2018 10:48 AM
(from Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), News and Events)

https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/18/01/power-parent-engagement

Alum Ghazal Gulati's nonprofit equips parents in India with skills and strategies to help guide their children to academic success.

Ghazal Gulati, Ed.M.’15, is dedicated to improving student wellbeing and achievement in India, one parent at a time.While national governments, schools, and local leaders can provide resources to enhance educational opportunities for students, Gulati realized there is one frequently overlooked stakeholder — parents.

“We have to help parents understand what their stake is in the game,” says Gulati, co-founder and full-time COO of Meraki, a nonprofit based in the Delhi area that aims to ensure that parents have a voice in their children’s education, providing them with the tools necessary to help their children do well in school. Meraki’s mission: “Equipping parents. Empowering the future.”

Gulati first noticed that not all children had the same educational opportunities when she was a child and her family moved to Delhi as a result of the escalating violence in their native Kashmir. She became aware that, due to her parents’ professional degrees and their general awareness of the importance of education, she was provided more academic and economic advantages than many children in her new city.

“It is not fair that some children are born into families with educational backgrounds geared toward academic success while others are left to their own devices to figure the education system,” Gulati says, noting that in order to create a more equitable environment, parents first need to be made aware that there are things they can do to aid their children’s learning. “All parents have high aspirations for their children, the only difference amongst parents is their education levels.”

While at HGSE, Gulati learned about the issue of “supply and demand” in the Indian education system in Professor Fernando Reimers’ course on educational policy. “The government can supply the schools, the teachers, but no one is looking at the demand side of the equation and how to trigger parent engagement, so the schools are carrying the burden,” says Gulati.

This is a problem that Meraki is meeting head-on by recruiting parents to participate in its offerings through their children’s schools. The fellowship program lasts four months and focuses first on parents with children enrolled in kindergarten and the first grade because, Gulati explains, brain development during this time is crucial and needs to be addressed in the beginning phases of students’ education.

Using curriculum provided by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, leaders guide parents through bi-weekly workshops that focus on reducing stress, improving the responsiveness of relationships, and building core life skills. Following each workshop, parent and child must work together on four assigned activities in which they develop skills and strategies that will help lead them to academic success.

The hope is that, as fellowship alumni, parents will become leaders in their communities, passing on to others what they learned in the Meraki workshops. This past year, the organization has worked with 900 parents in several under-resourced communities in South Delhi achieving more than 70 percent retention of parents in each workshop.
As Meraki grows, Gulati is grateful for the lessons learned at HGSE that she was able to apply to the endeavour, particularly one she took from a leadership course taught by Professor Monica Higgins.

“Spend enough time understanding the context. In Professor Higgins’ class we analyzed case studies about so many good ideas that failed because they failed to understand the other stakeholders in the ecosystem,” says Gulati, explaining that during the launch of Meraki, her team spent six to eight months interviewing parents, schools, teachers, and principals across India to understand the challenges of the communities.

As “you don’t act alone in the ecosystem,” this lesson is vital, she says. “Our goal is to build a movement of parent leaders working across sectors to mobilize systemic change at the community level on issues of child development.”


Photo: Ghazal Gulati (left) conducts a Meraki parent workshop. 

23rd August 2017
Hi,
We have some great news to share with you. Thanks to your contribution we will be able to support a 1000 families in some of the most at-risk urban slums in South Central Delhi, in partnership with the Government. Given the complexity of the lives these families live in, we have been actively getting more partners on board to enable an intervention that improves their lives not just in the short term but also in the longer term. In lieu of that, we are proud to announce that Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, IIM Bangalore; Teach for India; Ek Step (Nandan Nilekani’s backed social venture) and Pratham are some of the key partners that are supporting us to overcome this unique challenge.

Our efforts have also been recognised in the national media and here are a few links where Meraki has been covered:
1. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/eight-startups-picked-for-iimb-non-profit-incubator/articleshow/60164139.cms
2. https://thelogicalindian.com/my-social-responsibility/meraki/
3. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/iim-b-centre-to-mentor-social-non-profit-ventures/article19542252.ece

More importantly, we also wanted to share that donations on our Milaap page are still live. Further, we have been selected by Milaap as one of the very few campaigns where for every Rs 100 we raise, Milaap will contribute an additional Rs 20. Therefore, please do spread the word in your network.

We will be sharing periodic updates with you about Meraki, its work and its stories, regularly starting from September ‘17.

Thank you for all your support!
Best regards,

Ghazal and Seemant
Hi,
We have some great news to share with you. Thanks to your contribution we will be able to support a 1000 families in some of the most at-risk urban slums in South Central Delhi, in partnership with the Government. Given the complexity of the lives these families live in, we have been actively getting more partners on board to enable an intervention that improves their lives not just in the short term but also in the longer term. In lieu of that, we are proud to announce that Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, IIM Bangalore; Teach for India; Ek Step (Nandan Nilekani’s backed social venture) and Pratham are some of the key partners that are supporting us to overcome this unique challenge.

Our efforts have also been recognised in the national media and here are a few links where Meraki has been covered:
1. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/eight-startups-picked-for-iimb-non-profit-incubator/articleshow/60164139.cms
2. https://thelogicalindian.com/my-social-responsibility/meraki/
3. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/iim-b-centre-to-mentor-social-non-profit-ventures/article19542252.ece

More importantly, we also wanted to share that donations on our Milaap page are still live. Further, we have been selected by Milaap as one of the very few campaigns where for every Rs 100 we raise, Milaap will contribute an additional Rs 20. Therefore, please do spread the word in your network.

We will be sharing periodic updates with you about Meraki, its work and its stories, regularly starting from September ‘17.

Thank you for all your support!
Best regards,

Ghazal and Seemant
Content Disclaimer: The facts and opinions, expressed in this fundraiser page are those of the campaign organiser or users, and not Milaap.
Rs.1,127,484 raised

Goal: Rs.3,000,000

Beneficiary: Meraki info_outline

Supporters (284)

RB
Raghav donated Rs.1,000
SM
Sabyasachi donated $15
A
Anonymous donated Rs.5,000

Keep up the good work

A
Anonymous donated Rs.5,000
P
Pramod donated $250

Great initiative - all the best !

SA
Saurabh donated Rs.1,000