Last week, I saw something wonderful happen when a few of us, bloggers, from our writing group got together to campaign for a Sewing Circle fundraiser for the Delhi-based Project WHY. It was heartening to see the amazing response that flowed in through the various channels to help ProjectWHY garner the much-needed support they needed to stay afloat, proving once again that when the universe conspires to keep our faith in humanity alive, every little step takes us nearer to our goals, no matter how insignificant they may appear to be at the time.
That is precisely the reason why I feel happy to share the story of Tejomay with you, today. This story has a special place in my heart because it is the brainchild of Aparna, a very good friend of mine who I met almost eight years ago. She was one of the moms that I used to often bump into, every time we’d go to pick up our boys from school. Over the years, I got to know her better and found a wonderful person in her who was always very kind, gentle and empathetic. No wonder then, when I first heard about her amazing work and the nonprofit that she had set up, I was not surprised.
So, how did it all begin?
Aparna embarked on a momentous journey almost ten years ago, when she relocated to Bangalore with her husband and two children, after a successful stint as a Software Engineer in the US. Being the daughter of socially active parents, who were supporters of many social initiatives for the underprivileged, she had already been introduced to social work from her early years. So, when she aspired to get into the driver’s seat in order to bring in social change within the community at large, ‘Tejomay’ (which means ‘to brighten’) was born.
In the initial years, Tejomay mainly catered to value-education for children. Gradually, these included children from the underprivileged sections of society who needed help in academics, something that Tejomay continues even today, through its’ after-school programs for children who are between 5 to 12 years old.
But, the decision to incorporate adult literacy classes started when one day her maid expressed a desire to learn the 3Rs. This got Aparna thinking and eventually, became the inspiration for the adult education classes where the focus was on imparting basic literacy skills. For the young girls and women who worked as housemaids, this was a perfect opportunity to improve their job prospects and soon they joined in.
Gradually, Aparna’s offerings extended to including life-skills, soft skills, self-development and health-care workshops in her literacy classes. Her bespoke training programmes focused on teaching these women to operate bank accounts, learn to use computers, improve their communication skills, learn conversational English and build their self-confidence. Literacy skills had paved the way towards financial independence. The self-development programmes made them feel empowered to not just manage their own lives but also that of their children. The circle of influence for them was just beginning to grow.
As Tejomay’s reach spread far and wide within the city, many came forward to appreciate Aparna for her hard work. Occasionally, though, there were a few dejections, which often nudged Aparna to seek the advice of her parents since they too had faced similar challenges in their path many years ago. Aparna believes her strength comes from her dad’s words that have always stayed with her— “Neki kar, dariya mein daal.” (Which roughly translates to— Do good work, but do not expect anything in return.)
Today, Tejomay has a team of 21 mentors across three chapters in Bangalore and their reach has been growing at an impressive pace. Sceptics, naysayers and critics abound the path that she treads on, but Aparna continues her work as a catalyst for change. In a world of glib talkers and publicity-seekers who only provide lip-service in creating that much-needed impact in society, it is heartening to see Aparna and her team working tirelessly, undeterred by the odds, propelled solely by their conviction that one can only rise by lifting others.
If you would like to know more about Tejomay and connect with Aparna, please follow their Facebook Page. From time to time, Tejomay reaches out for supporters who can assist them through volunteering, organising fundraising activities, donating money and spreading awareness. We wish them the very best of efforts for all their future projects.
One step at a time is all that it takes to make the difference!
This post has been written for the We Are the World Blogfest, a monthly event created by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda Witzenhausen to showcase heartwarming stories of hope and light of real-life heroes from around the world, that show love, humanity and brotherhood in a world filled with negativity and hatred otherwise.
The hosts for this month are Damyanti Biswas, Eric Lahti , Inderpreet Uppal, Peter Nena and Shilpa Garg. Don’t forget to check out their WATWB posts and those of other WATWB participants to get inspired and feel a surge of positivity rise within you. It would be wonderful if you join in by sharing stories that you may have come across—particularly those that help spread hope and positivity.
Until next time, let us aim to stay hopeful and remain positive! 🙂
What an inspiring story, Esha. I often feel the need to reach out to others in significant way like Aparna, but don’t have the courage and the drive she does. More power to her and her work! Thank you for sharing.
How heartening to read a story of such dedication and perseverance. May her project flourish, may her tribe grow and may she continue to help more women in need. This was such a good way to end my Wednesday.
Thanks for featuring her, Esha.
Thank you for your kind words, Shailaja. I shall convey your thoughts to Aparna.We need more women to come together and lift each other up.
Thank you very much Shailaja. Thanks for appreciating our work.
Thank you very much Esha for this beautiful writeup about Tejomay and thanks for selecting Tejomay for #WATWB. Great initiative Damayanti and Belinda.
Encouragement from friends like you surely helps to do more good work. This is my Value education blog ‘SanskarVarg’
Anytime, my friend! This is the least I can do to help. Please feel free to reach out if there is any way that I can be of any use to Tejomay in their future programmes.
That is a another heart-warming story. Thank you for sharing with us Esha. It is indeed wonderful how Project Why, through Damyanti’s efforts got us bloggers to come together and pitch in.
And here’s another beautiful story. <3
Thank you very much for your kind words, Natasha! I am sure Aparna will be very pleased to see this. Damyanti was the catalyst that actually enabled us bloggers to come together as a community to spread the word and raise funds for PrjecyWhy. So proud and happy that we could do our bit!!
Aparna and Project Why are motivating and encouraging. We need to hear more such heart warming stories.
Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such lovely words for Aparna. I am sure she will be happy to know how much her efforts are appreciated.
Thank you for sharing this story. Yes we can change lives one step at time, one life at a time. Would love to connect with Aparna and learn from her journey
Thank you so very much, Anou’di, for stopping by the blog and for sharing your warm words of encouragement and support for Aparna! It is her passion and her dedication that keeps her going no matter what the odds. It would be lovely if you both can connect. I shall convey your thoughts to Aparna as well.
That would be lovely Esha. Would love to connect with Aparna
Thank you. Same here, I would love to understand the project ‘why’ and learn from your journey as well..
We need people like Aparna and Tejomay to help change the world. Helping others is a rare gift and very often one may have the desire to help but it isn’t always translated into reality. Kudos to Aparna and Tejomay. May her reach increase
Thank you so much Sunita for your wonderful words that will surely encourage Aparna to take her dreams forward through Tejomay! Her team may be small but the zeal and the passion is enormous and that is what we would like her to propel her towards her goals in the future. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your kind words with her here. Se will be happy to read this.
Thank you very much for your kind and encouraging words, appreciate it. – Aparna
I meant every word Aparna
People like Aparna are quite rare– those who wish to do good for others, esp people like our house-helps whom we tend to take for granted. May she find all the help she needs in her noble endeavour.
Thank you so much, Shilpa for your lovely words and for your encouragement to Aparna and her cause! It will really mean a lot if you like her facebook page and share her work with the others. You are right, so many of us have the intention but cannot realise the dreams but she does and that is what makes her truly rare. Will convey your thoughts to her, Shilpa.
Thank you Shilpa, its very nice if you to say that 🙂
Esha, thanks for the mention of Project Why! Will check out Tejomay. Neki kar dariya mein daal is a good principle to follow.
Thank you very much, Damyanti. I am glad that little efforts often percolate to become big blessings that bring hope and light into the lives of others. Yes, doing good without expecting anything is hard to follow but probably the most sensible thing to do when one works in this sector.