When some young Chennai professionals led by a dreamer-Varun Singhi- started Punya in 2009, the idea was not to offer palliatives for the misery of the poor children that is starkly visible on the streets of India.
Instead Varun, who is the founder and chief executive volunteer of Punya, and his team set out to strike at the root of the problem- lack of education, its tools and life skills.
Empowerment through education is the primary goal of Punya, a self-started initiative of Varun and his like-minded friends.
The NGO’s mission statement says: “Punya wants to direct its efforts towards meaningful and sustainable improvements instead of temporary relief. We aim to enable and empower people to improve their lives and conditions. Therefore projects and activities supported by Punya are focused on planned human and social development instead of random charity.”
The birth of Punya was around the idea of connecting minds with similar passion, vision, ideas and commitment.
“Most underprivileged children are faced with adverse conditions during an early age. This renders them socially, emotionally and even physically weak as they grow up. But if we can enable these children to be self-reliant then they can enjoy a childhood filled with smiles,” says Varun who works with Wipro Technologies .
So on the Independence Day of 2009 (Aug 15) a new initiative started blossoming.
“At Punya we strongly believe that education is the only way to elevate these children. Punya is determined to revolutionize and rekindle philanthropic urge in individuals by providing the donors/investors the assurance and satisfaction that their investments reach the right people at the right time, and most importantly through the right channels,” says Varun. for whom charity rightly began at home.
“I have seen my family right from my childhood days getting involved in social and community activities. Two statements- of Martin Luther King and Swami Vivekananda- have inspired me a lot and they still continue to inspire me,” says Varun.
King said an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity while Swami Vivekananda said one should take up one idea and “make that one idea your life”, says Varun.
“So I started initially with just my family members on board. I did everything, including the legal procedures, to establish Punya with a like minded team across various cities. Today Punya has inspired many people from different walks of life,” says Varun.
The young IT professional has come across many individuals and professionals who all are very socially conscious, but are unable to devote time and focus.
“So I decided to channelize the youth force for the development of the rural society,” he says.
Another important inspiration behind Punya is Late Shri Natmal Jain, who is a recipient of the Indira Gandhi Peace Award for his outstanding services to the society.
“Due to his fore vision and active involvement in community services, he was highly held and remembered in the society. Punya in short is a way to give a meaningful direction to his vision and carry forward his legacy,” informs Varun.
Punya has taken up various projects. One of the upcoming projects is “Education Scholarship Project” in Chennai and Bangalore through which it plans to extend financial support to two of the deserving students for their studies.
Under another scheme, Punya distributes stationeries to students in rural schools.
The Independence Day of 2010 would be celebrated thus with distribution of materials among the students of M.U.O.N Higher Secondary School in Chengalpet District.
Punya recently gifted a Computer System to Manav Seva Sanstha, a organization which works for the rural development in villages near Pune to support the Computer Literacy Program started by it. Currently about 120 students from nearby three villages are getting benefitted by this program. "Punyaites are working on the possibility to get some corporate support for this project by donating used/disposed computers from companies for this project," says Varun.
The trust doesn’t receive any financial support from the government and so the Punya team stepped in. It is now doing feasibility studies on their immediate requirements and needs.
For Punya and its chief architect Varun, the goal is simple. Translating Swami Vivekananda’s words into action, Punya dreams and lives on that one idea- of empowering children through education.
Visit Punya website for details.