Running an NGO is no less than running a business when it comes to the amount of effort one has to put in. People often wonder what makes people invest so much into something which gives nothing in return. But only some know that it gives more than any business could ever offer. And here we are with a short interview of the founder of SK Children Foundation Mr Raghav Sharma. This blog will take you through his inspiring journey.
- The idea of teaching underprivileged children came to your mind when a bunch of kids failed to recite the English alphabet in front of you. But at what time did you decide to convert this small effort into an NGO?
Mr Raghav: The idea of running an NGO was not something that I had in mind when I started teaching kids. I wanted to stay away from the limelight one gets while doing charity work. But something dramatic happened one day. A lady came to me asking who I was. She was worried that we might kidnap her kids. This question of hers made me understand how important it was to have the tag of an established organisation if I wanted to gain their trust. Hence, I decided to start an NGO and get it registered.
Also, it helped me to increase the reach of this initiative and today we have a huge number of volunteers on board taking it forward. So, a concerned mother was the reason why this happened.
- Starting an NGO definitely takes courage, but sustaining one takes a lot more than that. What were some of the major obstacles that you encountered in the beginning?
Mr Raghav (chuckles): In a line, I would say, it takes everything to sustain an initiative. See, there is nothing you get out of an NGO, in a materialistic sense. If you do not enjoy watching kids smile, it will get difficult to keep going.
But there are multiple other issues one faces. Firstly, it is difficult to gain people’s trust. When we started, it was really difficult to gather children. We had to offer them something or the other to lure them to the classes. Secondly, the fund crunch is always there. Initially, I did not tell my parents about the NGO since I was a 12th standard student back then. I knew they would be concerned about my future, and it’s fair on their part. So there were times I spent my pocket to buy kids stationeries. Thirdly, there are a lot of sacrifices one needs to make on a personal level. Now that the NGO is running on a grand scale, my plan of doing masters is on hold. I’m not sure whether I’ll pursue my higher studies or not, given that I need to be here all the time. So yes, it is difficult but it is worth doing.
- It has been more than 4 years since this NGO began. It is common for people to lose motivation in the long run. What keeps you going?
Mr Raghav (smiles): That’s true. Everyone feels like giving up once in a while. Actually, there are multiple reasons why I have been able to do this for so long. To begin with, it is the change that I see around me. When I watch our on-ground teaching centre jam-packed with students eagerly waiting for their teachers to arrive, it gives me immense pleasure. In a country where getting an education is a luxury, this is the least we can do.
(Pauses for a few seconds to think) Another big reason is the support SKCF has received from its volunteers. When you are surrounded by people who work extremely hard for the same cause, it becomes easier to continue. Lastly, it’s the responsibility that I feel on my shoulders now. It’s been so long since SKCF started. I can’t imagine shutting things down now. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep going.
- As a youngster who just completed his graduation, where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Mr Raghav (laughs): This is the question my parents are running behind. To be honest, I am not pretty sure. As I already mentioned I am thinking of not pursuing my higher studies. And if I start running behind a job, even then I would not be able to do justice with the NGO. This is something I cannot afford to do after coming this far. So yes, I am not really sure of where I will be in ten years from now, but you will find SKCF thriving and flourishing for sure.
This interview was taken by Prakriti Prakash, a volunteer at the Content Writing Domain of SK Children Foundation. Do visit our website for more details about the SK Children Foundation.