Creating a Ripple Effect
It’s a known fact that NGO’s survive and function on donations or funds; it’s the way of life in the development sector. To keep our work on-going and help us plan better for the future we organise personal visits to our projects for the people that come to India. How’s this done? Our team in Spain collaborates with some of the travel agencies there and if a group opts for their tours which should obviously include Mumbai, a trip to Mumbai Smiles projects is also included in their itinerary. When this happens, the agency then gives a percentage of the cost of package to Mumbai Smiles; a donation of sorts. This allows us to not only get funds but also spread our reach to foreigners as well.
One such visit took place on the 10th August. There were 12 visitors who were booked with a travel agency called Paso Noroeste in Spain. In their itinerary one of the stops was Mumbai Smiles projects which included the Balwadis, mMitra, SEED and LSE (Life Skill Empowerment). The event started off with a detailed presentation about Mumbai Smiles which was followed by a lot of questions as to how the organisation carries out its work, information about our projects and also understanding the impact and the results of these projects.
Post this; they visited the Balwadis. This was an emotional journey for them. Having encountered the slums for the first time in their lives, they were taken aback with the living conditions that they witnessed. But the dark clouds soon faded as they saw the Balwadis and a ray of hope reinstated their faith and made them recognise its true potential. They also visited the mMitra project and in order to give them a better understanding of our projects we also screened the Smileywood movie which depicts our work and its outcomes. After lunch, we took them to SEED and LSE initiatives as well.
Out of all the projects their absolute favourite was the LSE as they believed that working with adolescents is the need of the hour. On one hand; the visitors exuded enthusiasm in understanding the projects, meeting the beneficiaries and interacting with them. While on the other; the beneficiaries gained a cross cultural exchange by meeting people from a different country, learning about the education system in Spain, understanding the other sub states of Spain and also learn a few Spanish words.
What one must understand is that these visits are not just helpful to us for monetary gains but it also helps the organisation obtain great visibility among their clients, potential or existing. We’ve noticed that such visits often lead to individuals of the groups collaborating with the organisation on a more personal level and isn’t this is the purpose of it all.