Born into a family where traditional values formed the platform of my up-bringing, I had to rely on an awareness created by being exposed to my school mates, television and books (the internet wasn’t as easily accessible as it is today). I’ve always been naturally curious and although I’m not your typical bookworm, I learnt from every source I came in contact with, good or bad. Without realising it I was committed to life-long learning in the form of exploring, formal education, people, cultures and geographies. Learning exposed me to new thinking and exciting possibilities or dreams as I would like to think of them.
Was all this new knowledge a good thing or a bad thing? I didn’t know and still don’t know but I knew I would be breaking away from the stereotype that I was groomed to fit into. Have a look at the matrimonial section in any Indian newspaper and you’ll know what I mean. Conflict with a traditional way of life was inevitable for me, I chose #MyDecisions over #FamilyDecisions.
I’d like to see them fight to wear a pair of jeans, break out of a stereotype, have a voice and have an equal opportunity but economic hardships mean that they may never break out of the cycle of poverty unless you and I can help.
Did you have to fight to wear a pair of jeans, fight to do the job you wanted or fight to marry the man you wanted? I did, I wanted a voice and I wanted to make my own decisions but they cost me dearly. Aren’t those trivial fights in comparison to fight to clean water, private sanitation, education, being heard and being able to communicate with the world?
What message do you want to get out?
80 million children drop out of primary school and 8 million children do not see the door of a school – 60% of them are girls. I’d like to see them fight to wear a pair of jeans, break out of a stereotype, have a voice and have an equal opportunity but economic hardships mean that they may never break out of the cycle of poverty unless you and I can help. Set aside some time to understand our socio-economic issues and do something whether you choose to serious about it or do your bit in a fun way.
Me and my husband’s way started with “a lap of India” – a 10,000 kms in 20 days adventure around the perimeter of this diverse and beautiful country. This was initially a simple holiday for my husband and I to foster a feeling of love and togetherness, but since we’ve been together 11 years, how much more love and tenderness does one need, eh? (Only kidding!) Within a fortnight of us coming up with the idea of doing a lap of India, we decided to give up on holiday time for one year to understand the challenges of the children that represent our future and invest our own time and money into it. Putting “me” aside for a year.
Us girls just need to ensure we beat my husband and his boys at a 60%-40% ratio – we are 60% of course!
Mission of the organisation?
We haven’t evolved to a catchy mission statement as yet so here’s the long version! You probably already know that 32% of India’s population live below the economic benchmark of poverty. What that translates to is if the individual earns less than $1.25 per day, he has classed as BPL (below poverty line).
Can we do more to reduce the number of individuals living below this line? Together altering economic outcomes is a possibility. I know you and I do our bit by paying our taxes and you may already be extending regular or adhoc support. I am personally an adhoc giver but I’m changing that for myself. I have already committed to regular monthly giving but Sponsoring a Child (two of them – one for my husband and one for me), People helping people in our own country is the only way we start the bridge the big economic divide and this is my belief.
Short term goals?
This year for us has been more about conversations of great adventure and the need to start trusting organisations doing so really good work out there. But don’t take my word for it, get out there and see for yourself that will hopefully build trust in the longer term of the work that NGOs do.
In the process we have also been pulling a small volume of donations (both people and money) to support education and increasing employability. To this effect we are working with two NGO’s:
- Aarohi – a small NGO, for their working in the Himalayan foothills supporting education, increasing employability, enterprise and healthcare
- Plan India – an NGO with a pan-India presence supporting holistic needs of children including education, healthcare, clean drinking water, sanitation, preventing exploitation, empowering them to make decisions (essentially giving them a voice), livelihood skills and more.
Longer term goals?
Our longer terms goals are personal tomy husband and I, but we are committed to sponsor a boy and girl – a boy for my husband and a girl for me at Rs. 1,000 a month in the state of Orissa. Why Orissa? Because the number of families in Orissa below the poverty line startled me. Life will go on for both you and I after this note. My hope is that you will seriously consider regular giving for a lifetime regardless of your cause or belief. Finally, us girls just need to show the boys just what giving back to society is and in the bargain ensure we beat my husband and his boys at a 60%-40% ratio – girls are 60% higher donations of course!
Are there any special programs you run?
We don’t personally run programs but we’d be happy to put WATC members in touch with the organisations we are supporting. Programs they run include a week away in the Himalayas to unwind, reflect and spend time transferring some skills to the children at Aarohi or alternatively if anyone wants to get out into the hot, dusty plains of beautiful rural India then they could visit some of the programs that Plan India are running to see the work on the ground, speak with people and understand how they can support.
How do you fundraise?
Fundraising this far has been by having conversations with friends, family and people we haven’t had the opportunity of meeting in person as yet. In a event like this, trust is a big issue and rightly so. We directed all donations via our homemade website which has options for donations towards Aarohi and Plan India. Plan India though has a range of programmes that you can support. I like’d to point out that payments made via the website are links directly to the partner NGO website since they have invested in website security and more importantly your financial details will be safe and you will receive a payment acknowledge and tax receipt directly from the NGO.
How can others help?
Help get the word out for us, like our website (www.alapofindia.com), share our facebook page of the same name, speak to people about adventure and giving, do you own #DriveToEducate and yes, consider regular lifetime monthly giving for a cause that’s dear to you and also consider a small donation to our cause.
Who are the faces behind the initiative
Priya Pinto (pictured in the photos)
M: +91 96540 00881
E: [email protected]
David Pinto (husband)
M: +91 99997 10460
E: [email protected]
There are different ways to donate and we welcome as much or as little as you can spare. For Rs 12,000 you can sponsor a child. For Rs 1,200 you can sponsor employment and other donations. We also accept small donatsion – every little will help.