Vivek Kumar and Dr.Neeti Sharma, Founders, Sakshum
In life we all chase certain ideas, foremost among them being success. We each have different ideas of what success means to us. Different people have different visions but mostly success always means a nice fat bank balance, a big house, so on and so forth. We crave for the trappings of these material measurements of success. Sometimes there are also individuals who dare to walk the roads unknown and change how we perceive certain concepts. Vivek Kumar and Dr. Neeti are one of these individuals who challenge these set ideas and conceptions.
In May of 2008 Vivek Kumar and Dr. Neeti Sharma founded Sakshum (meaning 'Being Capable' in Hindi) as a initiative for children with "special needs" to provide holistic treatment and integrate them into main-stream society. By 'special needs' Sakshum means to address all children who are diagnosed with disabilities (Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down's Syndrome and other disabilities) and those who are also "at risk" (Pre-term, behavior and emotional problems and lack of stimulation), which hampers their overall development. The goal is to provide early diagnosis and Early Intervention for afflicted children. Sakshum was put into motion by a group of people who have a passion to mould their unstructured lives into fine sculptures.
The focus at Sakshum is to cater to the therapeutic, educational and vocational needs of individuals. Sakshum aims at prevention and screening of children who lack information and facilities because of poverty and social disparities. Sakshum also envisions spreading awareness and prevention of blindness and promotes Eye Donation and Child Education.
Sakshum is a non profit organization dedicated to provide early intervention, education and guidance to children with special needs and their families. Sakshum is targeting our society in the following areas:-
Jobs for the Disabled
Eye Donation and Eye Screening for school children
Three children are currently enjoying the benefits of "Child Education" and Sakshum hopes to add more in the coming days. From "Early Intervention" more than 25 children have been helped. 2 people with disabilities have got jobs with the support of Sakshum. Till now Sakshum has screened over 500 school children and inspired 200+ people for eye donation.
The venture was started by a group of working professionals who wanted to spend their weekends in building and reinvigorating society. It is thus, a purely volunteer driven initiative with minimal monetary returns and involvement. Sakshum pools money as and when required from its volunteers, friends and relatives and focuses more on human involvement.
As an organization Sakshum has also made plans for self sufficiency. Sakshum is planning to start up some initiatives, organize autism workshops; roll out Sakshum t-shirts which will be sold to the community at large. Sakshum has plans to tie up with a sms gateway provider who can help generate revenue while using their system for sending sms to the people interested in looking for blood donors and related medical requirements.
Being a largely altruistic organization we asked Vivek what he has to gain from such a venture. He replied saying "This world is full of selfish people who love to remain within the limits of themselves and their families. And these are the people who never come out of 9-5 jobs. 9-5 indicates a limit of time for work that limits every thing in life. A 9-5 worker can never make people work for him. He can be a part of system but can never develop a system. So, I choose to be an entrepreneur who can evolve opportunities for the people around me. "
An organization such as Sakshum also has its fair share of troubles. Vivek says "The biggest challenge for me in life was to keep Sakshum running. When I started with my co-founder Dr. Neeti we were just two people. We used to plan for weekly meetings initially and found only two of us attending. We planned to conduct some events and we did not have enough volunteers to support us."
They did not lose hope and continued to hold meetings and discuss their ideas for Sakshum. Initially they were confined to communicating their meetings and discussions to friends and family. And slowly people started taking interest and joined them. In the same way, both founders started attending other NGO events and activities. The networking helped and soon Sakshum was a well known cause.
As an inexperienced organizer Sakshum encountered a few setbacks, they relate "Initially we were too hopeful and had too many expectations from volunteers. We used to think that getting volunteers is pretty easy for conducting events and activities for Sakshum. "
Learning from their mistakes and identifying the need for self sufficiency led to a self reliant entity with a little help from modern technology.
Vivek explains the mechanics behind floating the required capital.
"We started from own pockets initially. We started contributing a percentage of our monthly salary to a Sakshum account. Along with this we started using the Google ad sense program to generate ad revenue from blog and site visitors. For conducting events we used to publish our budget requirements and asked interested people to contribute to it. This way we were able to get initial investments."
In terms of a future goal since Sakshum volunteers are full time working professionals the growth is controlled but steady. However people in Hyderabad already know about Sakshum. They get anonymous calls requesting help or support for various reasons. Regional newspapers like Ennadu regularly publish articles about Sakshum and its work.
There are also Telegu societies that support them from the US.
These brave individuals balance regular jobs while still finding some time to work for their initiative. They promise to continue it in the best way possible. As a final reminder to the nature of their Vivek says "I want to see people happy around me."
As a word from the wise the co-founders of Sakshum had this to say to our readers about what it takes to achieve your idea of success
- No one has become successful in a 9-5 job
- Never give up
- When you are at a point where you are about to give up, believe that you are there to give your best
- Initial struggle is painful when you are in that phase but most pleasant once you are out of it
Yourstory hopes the folks at Sakshum find the kind of success that they wish for and wishes them luck with all future ventures.