Helping Hand Society - Andhra Pradesh

My friend Aashish Mylapally here at IIM Indore and his team at Helping Hand society have done some terrific work in and around Hyderabad. Since 2006 the helping hand society has made a difference to the lives of hundreds of people.

I have never been a fan of NGOs as a concept. I have certain reservations with the way they operate. But I have to admit that some of them are doing great work in this country. They are also a source of inspiration.

And, I know Aashish personally and know about his dedication to his NGO. I wish him and all involved with HHS all the best for all their causes. May they spread more joy and cheer around India.

Here is a speech by Aashish himself (very useful and insightful for someone who is setting up his/her own NGO),

I am Aashish Mylapally and today I am going to talk about Helping Hand Society, an NGO I had started along with my friends during my graduation. My mother Smt. Shashi Kiran Mylapally who herself was involved in various small scale charitable activities was my main inspiration for starting this NGO. So the motive was to involve the entire society to serve the needy. Our core team consists of a group of committed individuals from various backgrounds like engineering, management and commerce each therefore bringing specific strengths into the NGO.

Originally we started out as a community on the social networking site Orkut in June 2006. In between June 2006 and January 2008, we started a number of events and initiatives like visiting homes and orphanages, organizing blood donation camps, distributing relief material to beggars and organizing general awareness campaigns in government schools. With almost two years of experience and a greater level of maturity we decided to concentrate on issues which could make a real impact on the society. We therefore decided to start a good school for the under-privileged to provide them an opportunity to study but more importantly to provide them proper machinery for sound overall development.

With this in mind, we registered HHS in January 2008. As a beginning we decided to set up a home for under-privileged children with decent facilities. In June 2008 we partnered Sphoorti Foundation, Hyderabad which was then running a home for 35 children with a goal of setting up a green concept school for the under-privileged. Our maiden project was the Helping Hand Sphoorti Children’s Home or HHSCH which came into being in August 2008 by acquiring a newly built facility which was sufficient to accommodate 40 more children taking our combined strength to 80.

In September 2008, HHS was registered with the Directorate of Income Tax (Exemptions) u/s. 12A and had been accorded approval u/s. 80G(5)vi for a period of two years from 01-04-2008 to 31-03-2010.

The revenues during the last financial year stood at Rs. 8, 62,700.

Now I would like to discuss few of the salient features of our children’s home. With 3 functional facilities HHSCH today is home to 112 under-privileged children who are either orphaned, semi-orphaned or are children of HIV affected parents. Girls account for nearly 40% of the strength of the home and are housed in a separate campus. The infrastructure at the home includes a computer lab with networking and internet facilities, a library, an 80 seated study facility and a 40 seated dining facility. English medium education, scientific balanced diet, hot water and purified drinking water supply are the other USPs of our children’s home.

At HHSCH we give great importance to health and fitness and therefore conduct a number of medical camps and sports activities. After all “A healthy mind in a healthy body.” We also facilitate creativity development sessions including singing and dancing at HHSCH. Our children participate in various events organized in schools and colleges in Hyderabad having won numerous medals and awards.

Coming to our green concept school project, Sphoorti Foundation has a 3 acre plot in Hyderabad on which we propose to build this school. A green concept school is essentially a green building which is self sustainable and energy efficient. It offers benefits of improved natural lighting, air flow, temperature, and improved acoustics and so on. It therefore enhances learning as well as health of the students while saving maintenance expenses in the long run. We intend to start of with 200 children and gradually expand to 1500 in a phased manner. The primary agenda for the school would be to impart high quality education to the students with a focus experiential and practical learning while inculcating essential cultural, social and ethical values in them. We also plan to set up main stream departments for creative arts, sports and IT to enhance the all round development of the students. The school would be totally residential.

Now what are the challenges?

The challenges range from generating huge capital for construction, operation and maintenance of the school to developing the right principles both for the selection of candidates and the school functioning itself. In the last one year, we were able to generate almost 1 million rupees while our partner foundation was able to generate 2.4 millions. The construction of the school by conservative standards is however expected to be over 50 million rupees which is a very huge amount. So, the immediate concern was to get a consultant for both financial modeling and technical design works. The financial model would give us an understanding of the revenues we have to generate while the technical aspects like architectural designs would be immediately essential for seeking grants, permissions and so on from different bodies. To develop principles for the functioning of the school, we decided to setup an advisory body consisting of eminent personalities from the education domain including experienced school principals, school consultants, bureaucrats and social workers.

We have so far considered three options. The first is to seek funds through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan under Alternative and Innovative education model where we can seek funds in the range of 20 and 200 million rupees. Secondly, we have considered the option of having a quota of seats allocated for children of regular backgrounds with normal fees which is a self sustainable model. The third option is to seek corporate funding. These three options were considered based on the sound functioning principles and the green concept factor which would be incorporated into the school.

These are few of our partners. Grundfos Pumps India Pvt Ltd has been our major financial sponsor in the last fiscal. Asian Institute of Gastroenterology is our hospital partner. Cognizant is our books and stationery partner. Satyam Foundation is our environmental activities partner. Sathkruthi, Red Cross Society of AP and Lions Club, Kukatpally are our Blood Donation partners and Google Apps and Microsoft are our IT/IT Education partners. Last but not the least; our main partners are the several kind hearted and considerate people like you.

(Aashish Mylapally is the president of the Helping Hand Society and is currently pursuing his MBA from IIM Indore, 2009-11 Batch)