The organisation has more than 150 volunteers across India and 100 regular donors. It has conducted drives in more than 40 slums.
Born 2 Help was conceived with the idea of providing a better quality of life for children living in slums across India. Founder Barun Paul believes that poor sanitation and malnutrition are the biggest challenges faced by these children, which sets them on the back foot. Education, he says, is a great equaliser. Born 2 Help works across these areas and is spread across five cities with a dedicated volunteer base.
Barun was born in Kharagpur in a family with modest means. The youngest of four brothers, he was educated in a government-run Bengali medium school.
“When I scored 81 percent in my board exams and wanted to study science, my family was apprehensive, as the tuition fee was very high for science subjects. Then I started teaching Class IX students to arrange for my tuition fee.”
An engineering degree from the West Bengal University of Technology brought him to Bengaluru for his first job in Honeywell. It was here that Born 2 Help was initiated.
Of passion and gumption
For Barun, teaching always held a lot of interest. He had taught poor children even during his school days and continued teaching as a member of the Honeywell CSR team. He also provided computer coaching to underprivileged children while working for an NGO in Bengaluru. However, working under these constrained circumstances, he believed that he was not able to make a dent in the larger issue.
“The plight of children selling sundry articles at traffic signals bothered me. My wife, Priya, and I started a roadside class for these kids in one of the signals in South Bengaluru near JP Nagar. Our initial challenge was to convince these children to attend class. After days of effort, we managed to herd five children into class. This was on November 14, 2015 when Born 2 Help started.”
There was rapid expansion after these initial glitches. They soon began to recruit more volunteers. On January 1, 2016 their Facebook page went live. This expanded the initiative from Bengaluru to Delhi, Kolkata, Kharagpur and Jamshedpur. They associated with an NGO named Hope Foundation India and started conducting education drives in the slums adopted by Hope Foundation India in Kolkata.
They have more than 150 volunteers across India and 100 regular donors who keep the organisation functioning smoothly. They have conducted drives in more than 40 slums and have a recorded database of more than a 1,000 children and their educational accomplishments.
They have worked with cancer and HIV patients and raised money for their treatment through walkathons. They regularly distribute basic medicine and health supplements to such patients. They also hand out food and hygiene kits, blankets, educational material and sanitary pads to children every month. They periodically conduct education and skill development drives for homeless children, patients and the elderly.
“We are a volunteer-based group. Most of our volunteers are working or self-employed professionals and homemakers. We conduct drives over the weekend and on national holiday. We call each slum an education centre or EC. We follow a ‘No Money’ policy. We do not collect cash as donation and instead ask our donors to provide commodities like toiletries including soap, toothpaste, sanitary pads, health drinks, food packets, medicines, blankets and education kits. Social media helps us a lot in finding donors and volunteers,” Barun says.
Through this initiative, he wishes to promote the habit of helping others. “Alone we can do little, but together we can make a difference. In Mahatma Gandhi’s words, be the change you wish to see in the world,” Barun says.