From a unique climate change initiative to bringing healthcare content to Bharat – the top Social Stories of the week

By Team SS|24th Oct 2020
This week, SocialStory witnessed the efforts of organisations who are educating children amidst the pandemic, as well as initiating a dialogue around climate change through a unique initiative.
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The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”


SocialStory identified many initiatives by organisations and individuals this week, who are strengthening the roots of the less fortunate.


Be it Sushil Kumar Meena’s Nirbhed Foundation or a learning initiative by IIT alum, Avanti Fellows — these NGOs are helping children find their way to a better life.


Meanwhile, Eco Lens Lab — a virtual forum that initiates discussions around climate change through the visual medium of documentaries and films — is commencing a two-day event on November 9-10 to talk about the pressing issue at hand.


Here are the top Social Stories of the week:

IDF’s Eco Lens to discuss climate change impact through documentary

Coral Woman

Poster: Coral Woman

Today, we are witnessing the effects of climate change in every part of the world. From severe air pollution, melting ice caps, to forest wildfires, to rapid cyclonic activities — these effects are only increasing with each passing year.

However, storytelling has been one of the influential ways to educate people and start an engaging conversation around the ill-effects of climate change. For this reason, the Indian Documentary Foundation (IDF) has started the Eco Lens virtual forum, based on the premise of using art for change.

Inspired by the Climate Story Lab, UK, the climate justice-centric virtual event will be held over two days with half a day sessions on November 9-10.

The railway engineer who is teaching over 3,700 unprivileged children

Sushil Kumar Meena

Sushil Kumar Meena

After seeing the plight of the street children, railway engineer Sushil Kumar Meena had resolved to dedicate his time to teaching children of ragpickers, beggars, and people of low-income groups.


With that in mind, he laid the foundation for the NGO Nirbhed Foundation in 2015 as a follow-up of his efforts in teaching street children during his postings in various cities. At present, the foundation has 22 centres in many Indian states.

Wikipedia's Project SWASTHA enables healthcare content in Indic languages

Abhishek Suryawanshi

Abhishek Suryawanshi (Image: Wikipedia)

There are several thousand Indians who have difficulties with the English language — a medium used for most of the digital content. In fact, a recent Google KPMG survey corroborated this by saying nine out of 10 people trust information conveyed in their local languages.


To address this knowledge gap, 29-year-old Abhishek Suryawanshi started Project SWASTHA in November 2019. SWASTHA stands for Special Wikipedia Awareness Scheme for The Healthcare Affiliates, which translates medical content into regional languages.

This IIT alum organisation is enabling students to pursue higher studies

Avanti Fellows

Some of the students part of Avanti Fellows.

India’s education system is one of the largest in the world, with over 1,000 universities, including premier institutions like IIMs, AIIMS, IITs, IIITs, IISERs, and NITs.


However, the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in the country when it comes to higher education is only 25.2 percent, which is quite low owing to poor quality of education, shortage in proficient faculty, the regional disparity in access, and the economic constraints of paying the fees. 

Therefore, in 2010, six individuals — Akshay Saxena, Krishna Ramkumar, Vaibhav Devanathan, Rohit Singh, Aishwarya Ramakrishnan, and Rahul Srinivasan — got together to improve this situation. They set up Avanti Fellows, a non-governmental organisation, to provide access to quality tertiary education to meritorious students from low-income backgrounds. 

Indian non-profits helping unprivileged children with education, food amidst pandemic

NGO food

For the underprivileged children, belonging to rural pockets of the country, the COVID-19 pandemic almost halted their lives. Not only did their learning stop due to the pandemic, poor internet connectivity, and unavailability of smartphones, but these children also found it hard to get proper meals.


In fact, these collateral damages also led to the rise of child marriages and child labour in the country. In a bid to help overcome these challenges, several NGOs started various initiatives, catering to the needs of the children amidst the pandemic.


Edited by Suman Singh

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