U&I

INTRODUCTION Our journey began in May 2009, when a few friends from a local youth group visited a home for mentally challenged boys in Bangalore. From a small group of friends, to becoming a movement that hundreds of people would get involved in and to eventually becoming an organisation that would have projects across the city of Bangalore - no one would have guessed that this was how things would eventually turn out. Even today, we're amazed at all that's happened in the last four years & are excited about all that is to come. Since our inception in January 2011, we have focused most of our activities towards the education of underprivileged and special needs children. We be...
Jan 23, 2017

Beyond the Classroom

U&I works with a team of 1000 volunteers to reach 850 children across India. That translates as an incredibly low teacher: student ratio. Often times, a volunteer is assigned only one child, resulting in a bond between tutor and students that cannot be taught in a classroom.

While it’s our goal to impact underprivileged children, often times volunteers’ lives are transformed as well.

Our volunteer Raveena recalls the moment when her child asked her when she would visit next.

“Next Sunday,” she replied.

“Come on Saturday also, please?” requested her little student, warming Raveena’s heart.

Little moments like these fill our classrooms - everyday testimonies of how our volunteers are building bonds with their students.

Our volunteer Honey has often been told by her peers that she is a good teacher. After spending time at our Bangalore Learning Center, she realized that academics was only part of her skill set. She teaches her student time management skills, helps her set personal goals and is involved in molding her personality. To Honey this is not a part-time volunteer stint. This is her calling.

And with this bond between teacher and student, it’s only natural that our students to thrive under the mentorship.

At our Bangalore center, one student reported proudly that her New Year resolution was to speak English fluently, adding that she knows can do it with her akka’s guidance. She had put her trust in her akka (big sister), because she knew that was a safe place.

We take our responsibility towards each child extremely seriously. A responsibility that goes far beyond the text book. 

 

Jan 20, 2017

Creating Memories Together

Personalized inspirational cards
Personalized inspirational cards

At our 20 Learning Centers across the country, U&I days are special days for the children. These are days when their “akkas” and “annas” (big sisters and big brothers) help them with their academics. But it’s also so much more.

At one of our Chennai Learning Centers, the volunteers and kids took time out from studies to do a special project together: build a birdcage from a recycled shoe stand. The final project included a mini shoelace ladder inside the cage for the parrots’ entertainment! The kids may not remember every single class with their tutors. But projects like these – which require an investment of time and attention – are something they’ll always carry with them. The knowledge that someone cared enough to invest in them – that kind of knowledge is not always measurable, but always memorable.

During the South Indian Harvest Festival of Pongal, each of the kids at the same Learning Center received a motivational card from their volunteers – personalized with their pictures. A small gesture that speaks volumes. A gesture that tells the kids to reach for their dreams - and that their U&I volunteers have their back.

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Jan 17, 2017

Little Things That Make A Big Difference

It’s not often that a set of pajamas makes an impact. But in the life of little Hanuman, a set of warm PJs was a pretty big deal. As a resident of the Institute for Mentally Challenged Boys (IMHC), he is one of 90 kids. Often, that means that the government-run institute can’t cope with individual needs of the boys. When a group of kids, including Hanuman, became sick there was little choice but to keep them quarantined. Sleeping on the floor with nothing more than a thin sheet, it was a difficult time for him.

But then U&I staff member at the Home, Anusha, noticed his situation and had the resources at hand to help him out. She picked out a set of warm clothes and gave them to Hanuman. It was a small gesture, but it spoke volumes. She had noticed he was cold. She cared enough to give him the clothes.

“Akka, but tomorrow I won’t get the same clothes, will I?” asked Hanuman. He feared that after U&I staff left for the day, his clothes would get mixed up with the rest of the laundry. He wanted to make sure he got his warm clothes the next day. And Anusha was there the next day, too, to make sure Hanuman got his wish.

It was just a set of old pajamas, possibly donated to the Boys’ Home. But it made a difference that someone cared enough to make sure Hanuman was warm that day.

U&I staff like Anusha give these children a sense of security. Day after day, these kids see these caring “akkas” and “annas” (big sisters and brothers, as the kids refer to them). To these special needs kids who have been abandoned, U&I becomes their family.

U&I works with IMHC to ensure that each of the boys receives the care they need to reach their full potential. Every day our staff at the home nurture and equip these boys: from teaching them basic things like daily hygiene to helping them cope with emotionally challenging situations.

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