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Sheetal Kharka, Founder, Innocent Heroes Foundation

Saturday December 26, 2009 , 7 min Read

“Serving the Innocent”

“Empower each child with knowledge, wisdom, talent, strength, opportunity and focus on the overall development of mind, body and soul to make a life...!”

Sheetal Kharka’s venture of social entrepreneurship is named “Innocent Heroes Foundation” after the children that it serves. She explained how her efforts differ from the normal NGO and what they plan to do for underprivileged children in India saying “Innocent Heroes, works for the up-liftment and overall development of underprivileged children.

The people who will benefit out of the services of the organization are the NGO’s, their inmates who are doing such a fantastic job already. Our role is of value addition to the existing functions of the NGO’s. The children who are taken care by these NGO’s will be the final heroes.”

“We plan to nurture and grow the hero in 1000 underprivileged children over the span of 1 year from various NGOs.”

“We would like to cover as much as 100 NGO’s including the ones in the internal parts of the village and do promotional events for all of them. Have as many tie-ups and associations with prominent institutes, corporates who can benefit these children and help the foundation achieve its objectives.”

Unlike traditional NGOS that provide the staple of shelter, food, clothing and basic education Sheetal plans to take things one step further. She explains her intentions and the reasons behind them saying “IHF has been created to provide a platform of opportunities and promotional activities focusing on the personality development, extra-curricular skills and talents for the underprivileged children coming from different parts of society and back ground and play a crucial role in the overall development of these children.”

“These children are taken care of by various NGOs. These NGOs provide them with shelter, food, basic health care and basic education. However most of these NGO’s are not dealing with their personality development and or building life skills in these children.”

“There is a huge gap between the NGO and the real world. IHF is a bridge that covers this gap. IHF believes that there is something beyond just giving basic food, education and shelter…A secured Future, a life! Building confidence in theses children to go out in the world and stand on their own feet and earn their own living with grace and dignity and make them competent, to face the challenges of life without getting scared and embarrassed, has been the prime motto of the Innocent Heroes Foundation.”

“IHF provides platform of opportunities to bring out the talents and creativity in them be it in Sports, Art, Culture, Music, Adventure, Dance, Vocational training and many more.”

“We have no business model, because it is not designed to make profits at all, however we want to be financially sustainable to take care of all the expenses related to the work and the projects that we will carry out. We will have few CSR tie-ups for regular flow of funds.”

We asked if she had plans to scale up her present model and she expressed her desire to fulfill her mission and broaden it. She answered saying “Definitely, not in terms of money however we have some predefined objectives such as :-

Undertake various educational, welfare and developmental activities for under privileged children in urban and rural areas.”

“Empower them by organizing multiple facilities for formal & non-formal education, technical & vocational training”

“Do promotional activities focusing on the extra curricular skills and talents be it sports, Art, Culture, Adventure, music, dance etc…”

“Organize public lectures, study camps, awareness raising campaigns, discussions, meetings, seminars, conferences, trainings, exhibitions and research & studies on any important issue or issues related to up -liftment of these children”

“Organize study tours, trekking expeditions, nature camps, etc for poor children to apprise them of culture, and traditions of Indian society and inculcate a spirit of adventure, sports and social work.”

“Impress upon young minds the feasibility of community service with a difference.”

After a career that gave her much as an individual Sheetal realized that something was still missing. The gap between her work and self fulfillment was one that only entrepreneurship could fulfill. Sheetal explains how she made her decision saying “I have been working for more than 12 years now. I have gained enough experience to grow as a person and stand on my own feet. I never felt the sense of belonging when I worked for someone else and lacked the sense of real satisfaction when it came to working 9 to 5 except for the fabulous money that I was making. The only way I could optimize my skills and be really productive was to work on your own terms and be with yourself. And I believe creative urges need some flexibility to perform so I decided to branch out.”

The concept behind Innocent Heroes also serves to change a long standing social approach of apathy. Sheetal feels that making people change their mindset is her hardest task saying “Community service is grooved into a set idea like donating food, giving away old clothes, provide some books, open a library, give tuitions, distribute chocolates or pencils to the children. They do not have a deep impact.”

“Exposing underprivileged children to new opportunities, teaching them how to set goals, challenging them to achieve those goals and setting new benchmarks have been our forte. No one thinks of taking these underprivileged children for a Himalayan trek or make them participate in a cricket match. Many think that it’s a complete waste of time and money, but they don’t realize that it plays an important role in changing mindsets and opening new horizons for them – It helps them to come out of their self-pity and think differently!”

“It will take a lot of time for many people to accept this way of serving the community. We are hopeful that we will find more people to come forward and support us..!!”

Sheetal believes in her dream more than ever and speaks of what gives her such hope saying “Our ability to keep up the commitment! The results of all our event has been fantastic so far, so NGOs and our sponsors trust and know that we will deliver!”

“I left a regular job to take up this cause which was my calling and so I never regret the decision. Even when I feel down and depressed on odd days when things don’t happen the way I want to, I am always focused. This is my dream and I am determined to make it happen.”

From their ongoing projects IHF, has nurtured 3 boys who have been selected by Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) to play in Club matches. Also 3 Girls have been nominated to pursue advanced courses in Mountaineering and Adventure sports. The School Athletics Championship Award has been won by IHF for 3 consecutive years for Sports and Cultural activities and they have been recognized by the Rotary Club of Pune, Riverside with the award for Service to Society for the last 2 years

Sheetal is proud of their achievements and adds “We are also associated with CII to provide soft skills coaching from various faculties like Engineering, Management, Law, Hospitality, and Language to enhance the employability of the underprivileged children. IHF will nominate students from various NGOs and send them for the suitable stream or course. This is an ongoing program having quarterly batches year on year.”

Sheetal is determined to leave no stone unturned for the children she serves and says “IHF intends to take its efforts to the International level, accruing international help and support for our innocent heroes, which should take off by 2010.”

To the entrepreneur who has set upon the task of fulfilling their dreams Sheetal hands out hard gained wisdom saying “Be self motivated and driven to be able to accomplish any task in the face of discouragement. Be yourself and trust yourself. If you are convinced about your idea and concept you will find people who will appreciate and support you.”

Underprivileged children have gained a new champion for their rights in Sheetal Kharka and we wish to see her vision grow to touch many more lives. Yourstory commends her exemplary work and wishes her the best for the future.