By Kavitha Srinivasa
Jan Sewa Welfare and Educational Society, a Delhi-based NGO set out by trying to improve the lives of fringe dwellers. In the process, the NGO has made a difference to the living conditions of thousands of people in the Delhi-NCR Region. Technology has facilitated the process.
As a professional working in the corporate world, Rishipal Singh could have just headed out to work without bothering about what he saw along the way. Quite like a straight jacket horse, oblivious of the surroundings. But that did not happen. He saw several footpaths being home to thin, malnourished people. The plight of the helpless people barely surviving on the roadside stirred him. They had no education, and hence no choice but to spend their lives alongside footpaths. Their apathy became the turning point.
Driven by a restless urge to do something for them, Rishipal Singh hung up his boots. After moving out of corporate life, he made a beginning in 2008 with Jan Sewa Welfare and Educational Society (JSWES). The NGO was formally registered in 2010. “I felt it’s important to educate people. With education, they can go ahead in life. But without education, they remain direction-less and end up doing nothing,” said Rishipal Singh, founder and president, Jan Sewa Welfare and Educational Society.
There is a clear attempt to create an environment of learning. Rishipal Singh began by starting a computer centre in Najafgarh. A rental premises with a few computers was a fairly good start. To begin with, he approached rural schools and urged them to send their students to computer classes. Students from nearly 100 schools around Delhi/NCR, as well as school dropouts have attended the classes.
“Individuals should be able to handle the computer,” he felt. Initially students from standard X-standard XII enrolled into the certified course, which is divided into four segments. The three-four month course comprises Soft Skills, Personality Development, Spoken English Course and UI/UX Development and Desktop Administration, along with Programming, Web Designing, Accounting, and Cutting, Tailoring and Embroidery.
DCHN or the Diploma in Computer Hardware & Networking is both 6 and 12 Months course.
Other 12 months course includes Diploma in Financial Accounting (DFA), Advanced Diploma in Financial Management (ADFM) and Diploma in Computer IT (DCIT).
The 15 months course extends to Advanced Diploma in Computer IT (ADCIT). JSWES has collaborated with the Government of Delhi for these courses.
A word-of-mouth publicity has brought people of various age groups into the classes, which are conducted free of cost. They are from socially and economically marginalized households.
Education has been the first step towards progress. This is a good move, as the NGO has offered computer training to 22,000 less privileged people in the villages of the Delhi-NCR periphery. So far, 90 villages have been mapped.
As the computer learning courses began to find acceptance, Rishipal Singh knew it’s time to extend his helping hand towards other sections of society. This time, the thrust has been on women’s empowerment.
It’s also got to do with the fact that the surrounding areas are home to export houses. So it makes sense to groom women to be self reliant and do piece work from home for these companies. Some of them prefer to work full time in export units. But then, export houses alone cannot become a means of income generation. In that sense, solutions aren’t cookie clutter and this is something that Rishipal Singh learnt as he proceeded with his vision. It’s only natural that the horizon of livelihood options broadens. Women’s empowerment extends to vocational training like cutting, tailoring and embroidery. The NGO has conceptualized the Skills Enhancement Programme (SEP) to equip the youth with theoretical knowledge, practical skills and a positive attitude to seek meaningful employment and take them towards self-sufficiency. SEP aims to enhance employability through Livelihood options, Computer Literacy, Vocational Training, Spoken English and Soft Skills.
As the NGO mapped its presence in the surroundings, the team saw many parts of the region were far from green. In an effort to increase the tree cover, JSWES has collaborated with Gram Panchayats and planted saplings in many places. In all, around 2,500 saplings have been planted. This year, it’s intended to increase the sapling count by over 5,000.
With a leafy environment, come health concerns. Yoga camps are being conducted in four villages where JSWES operates. This is to help individuals relax and encourage positive thinking.
JSWES has partnered with placement centres which are channels for professionals to get placements in logistics companies, warehouses and garment factories. Those with computer skills make it to computer programming, web designing and call centres. All these companies are located within a radius of 20km-25 km.
Incidentally many of JSWES’ training courses are run by professionals who are recruited through the placement centres. This year, there’s a plan to scale up the children’s enrollment into schools. “We have approached the Village Chaupal through which we intend to bring in 5,000 children of construction workers into schools. To make this work, we need to convince the parents about the importance of education,” he said. The NGO plans to conduct awareness campaigns to ring in the message of education. Besides that books and stationery will be distributed to the children of the migrant labourers and construction workers.
With JSWES, Rishipal Singh has connected two very unlikely dots. He has managed to convince many footpath dwellers to educate their children and secondly, created avenues of employment for the village people.
Likeminded people have joined him in his journey. Consequently, the self funded NGO has also had contributions from co-members and individual donors. Somewhere along the line, the NGO hopes to extend its footprint into the rest of India.
Over the years, Rishipal Singh’s efforts have begun to pay off, with laurels knocking his door. The Gram Panchayat of Badsa, Tehsil in Badli, District- Jhajjar, Haryana has honoured all members of the NGO for their outstanding work in the Environment, Education and other Social Sectors on August 15, 2019. Earlier in the month, the NDIM (New Delhi Institute of Mangament) Incubation and Transformation Initiative organized the first NITI Award for the Best NGO. The Jan Sewa Welfare and Educational Society was awarded the "Best NGO Footprints Award" for its outstanding social work in the society.
Rishipal Singh exemplifies the vision, ‘Be the change you want to see the world.’ He’s someone who’s moved out of the corporate environment and set out on his own to do his bit for the economically weaker sections of society.