An Initiative Touch Your Soul (AITYS) is an all-volunteer NGO, charitable trust, with the objective to better the lives of the underprivileged.
AITYS was founded by Madhu in 2012, with the belief that “No child should be deprived of education because of poverty.”
The intended aim is (but not limited) to provide education sponsorship for children, infrastructure support for schools in selected regions and free medical camps for the villagers.
Over the years, AITYS has grown organically and gained success in its programs. Since its inception, AITYS has conducted 68 medical camps, treated more than 14,876 villagers and sponsored the education of 3,465 students across 337 villages, made possible through the generous funding of its contributors.
Founder and Managing Trustee
Madhu, a graduate from J. J. Schools of Arts Mumbai, worked for several years in the USA after which in 1992 she settled back in India. While enjoying a comfortable life as a resident of New Delhi, a chance visit to Uttarakhand in 2008 made her realise the stark difference of villagers’ living conditions in rural Uttarakhand as compared to that of city dwellers. Realising the plight of people in the forgotten interiors of the small but beautiful state of Uttarakhand, she established ‘An Initiative – Touch Your Soul’ (AITYS) in 2012.
Her inexhaustible passion and dedication, to bring much needed reprieve in the lives of villagers, has led to a successful run and an organic growth of her organization. This was not achieved by merely chairing as the ‘Founder and Managing Trustee’. Refusing to build a cliched work environment, she has slowly grown AITYS by converting her own home as an office. Over the years, volunteers from diverse backgrounds and skill sets have joined, believing in the ideology of AITYS.
A firm believer of ‘sewa’ and ‘karma’, Madhu insists that no work is menial or disrespectful. Compassion has driven Madhu to constantly remind herself and her volunteers that to work with these virtues, disqualifies any prejudice and therefore, everyone is equal. Not only does she work closely with volunteers and external stakeholders, she also invests her time and effort in every aspect of AITYS…from planning, finances, documentation to ground level implementation. Madhu actively contributes to ensure all the initiatives and projects of AITYS are successful.
She has silently and patiently worked for and with those, who initially declined her work or even doubted her intentions. With sheer dedication and sincere work, she has now turned the tide, where the same people eagerly seek to collaborate and work alongside her organization.
However, eight years in the run the journey has barely begun. She puts her ideology in simple words…“Somebody helped me get somewhere in life and now it is my turn to do the same for others”. There are so many in need of help, deprived of basics like education and medical care. We aim to reach out to the underprivileged and help them reach a level of self-sufficiency”.
Located partly in the Gangetic plain and partly in the northern Himalayas, Pauri Garhwal district encompasses an area of 5,230 square kilometers in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India. AITYS area of operation has its epicentre in the region between Devaprayag and Pauri.
3 May 2019
9 March 2019
11 March 2019
With every visit AITYS realises that poverty is an ongoing phenomenon, which unfortunately, is complexly woven into the socio-economic life of the villagers in Uttarakhand. Farming is no longer the prevalent profession in the remote regions as men have been abandoning farming. Instead they now migrate to bigger cities of Uttarakhand or other states to earn a living. The families left behind are children, old grandparents incapable of employment or lone women struggling to feed the family. In such conditions the child’s secondary education is sacrificed for either domestic chores or getting an extra wage-earning member in the family. District Information System for Education (DISE) Reports for Uttarakhand, published for 2015-2016 till 2017-2018 show a shocking drop-out rate up to 12.42% in secondary education classes. While reports 2018-2019 onwards are yet to be published, it is unlikely we will see an improvement. When the children reach the ninth grade of school and the fee needs to be paid, parents opt for drop-out without question. The girl child, in particular, bears the brunt as they are forced to drop-out because domestic chores are a more important learning than syllabus. And this is where our initiative becomes essential. AITYS undertakes the sponsorship of a child’s secondary education starting from ninth grade, basis a predefined eligibility criteria. Sponsorship request applications submitted by parents are checked by our representatives from government schools and then sent to AITYS. AITYS volunteers check these applications ensuring every detail and supporting documents are sufficient to meet the eligibility criteria. Sponsorship cheques are then handed out to students during field visits. AITYS meets with parents and children to discuss and repeatedly emphasise the importance of completing secondary education, which will equip the child for better opportunities after school. Conversations with parents, school principals and staff often reveal stories of struggle undertaken by children, who with the sponsorship are able to confidently study and complete secondary education. Many times we have come across our sponsored students who have shown exemplary potential for furthering studies. However, due to financial hardships they have not found the means to undertake that education. Every year AITYS has stepped in for some of these cases and sponsored their college studies and even vocational training. Many of these individuals have successfully established their own means of employment.
“No child should be deprived of Education due to poverty”
-Donate INR 9,000 for a child’s annual secondary education
-Donate funds for annual secondary education for an entire school(s)
-Sponsor a deserving AITYS student for college/vocational education
-Contribute writing notebooks and stationery
-Contribute material to encourage creative activities for students
-Contribute reference printed material for students to use as preparation for examinations
|Academic year||Students sponsored||Goverment school covered|
*Sponsored students belonged to the june 2013 flood affected families and not specific government schools
Hospitals and medical centres in Uttarakhand are limited to bigger cities like Dehradun, Rishikesh and Srinagar etc. However, the remote interiors lack availability of basic medical facilities. As more men abandon farming and families, and instead migrate to cities for earning livelihood, the situation worsens for the families left behind with no steady income. Therefore affording medicines and treatment becomes a close impossibility. AITYS began its ‘seva’ in Uttarakhand with free medical camps. Our first medical camp in 2012, was organized at a bus stop with a single table. Continuous efforts have brought it to the point where we now set up multiple assistance counters within government school compounds catering to more than 500 villagers in each visit. Each medical camp is planned six months in advance which includes resource planning, scheduling, procurement, coordination and logistics. Our representatives in villages help spread the word, well in advance, basis a pre-planned date and a designated location. These camps are set up for multiple days so that maximum villagers from afar may reach and benefit. Since 2015 our medical camps are being organized in government school premises within Pauri Garhwal and its surrounding regions. The basic medical assistance provided includes health check-up from a physician, distribution of non-prescription medicines along with blood pressure and sugar level tests. Villagers from Uttarakhand commonly suffer from skin infections and digestion problems owing to unfiltered groundwater and poor nutrition; common ailments such as cough, cold and fever; aches and pains due to the strenuous physical labour. Children report lack of energy as families face difficulty in affording proper meals. For the aged, blurry eyesight and joint aches are the biggest problems. While these free medical camps are intended at providing basic medical healthcare to villagers, for AITYS it means much more. The success of this initiative has paved the way for launching our other initiatives. During medical camps, AITYS also analyses the socio-economic situation of the villagers; the school premises and its infrastructure and also identify areas of improvement. This allows the team to create initiatives customized to have maximum impact.
– Sponsor the complete set up of one or multiple free medical camps
– Fund monthly dosage of multivitamin syrups for school children for a minimum of one year
– Fund/donate a predefined list of medications and supporting material. List will be facilitated by AITYS
– Sponsor the medical camp material along with logistics to transport the material to a pre-designated centre in Uttarakhand
|Year||Medical camps||Patients attended||Villages covered|
Even though Pauri District and its surrounding areas have an adequate network of primary and secondary government schools, nevertheless, most of them are in an urgent need for major improvements. The schools have sparse infrastructure, which is minimal and very basic. Crammed classrooms, lack of building maintenance, inadequate furniture, poorly stocked libraries, neglected sanitary systems and absence of technical support, were some of the major concerns that needed to be addressed. In spite of limited funds and a careful analysis of each school’s needs, in 2016-2018 we launched several pilot programs in selected schools to address the above mentioned problem areas. Audio-visual aids, computers and library books were donated. After a careful analysis of the utilization of our efforts by the individual schools, it’s impact on student learning, maintenance of the donated items, AITYS prepared for a wider area of impact. Since 2018-19 the reach of this initiative has increased multifold. The resultant success has been heart-warming. Teachers and students are actively using audio-visual aids, in downloading lessons and other learning materials, coping with the correct English pronunciation and inculcating reading habits through story books to uplift the idea of receiving and imparting knowledge. Going ahead, we intend to continue upgradation of school infrastructure by upgrading technology, better facilities, books, sports etc. Not only will this make the school environment more engaging but also more productive. Rather than thinking of it as a mere formality, we aim to bring the children to a point, where they will look forward to going to school as a place of interest and learning.