Once upon a time there was a little girl standing near a sea shore. She was trying to throw back the star fishes back to sea. An old man who passed by asked the little girl "Stupid Girl. How many can you save by doing this?"
The little girl looked at him and replied "I may not save all of them...but I can save this one.. "
and saying this she throws one back to sea and picks another one and says "and this one....."
We all have come across malnourished kids in the traffic signal, in slums, the maiden’s kid and in so many places. And most probably we think "Wish I could do something to help this kid out of this mess". But...we don’t know how to do it.
What Social Service is all about?
Social Service is a very misconstrued word in our lingo. Most of the people imagine that one needs to dedicate one self totally to a cause and abstain from normal life and become a super human. The truth is that all one needs is a deep hearted desire and a little bit of time management.
What is SMILE?
SMILE was formed by 20 members on the shores of Besant nagar beach on April 04, 2004 with a desire to bring SMILE to as many faces as possible. What started as 20 member team grew to 100 members by 2005 and we registered as it as SMILE WELFARE FOUNDATION. By 2006 we managed to get 80G Tax exemption status for contributions made to SMILE. Today SMILE is about 400 member strong organization with members functioning in Chennai, Bangalore and some other parts of the country.
What does SMILE do?
Most of the people who are reading this post must be from the Middle class. We know the value of each and every rupee and are thankful for every morsel of food. But have we thought about people who toil to make ends meet each and every other day and for whom childhood is mostly about watching the smallest joys of crackers, new clothes, sweets and savories and toys in the hands of the neighboring kids from affluent families. The basic aim of SMILE is to restore SMILE to such kids and educate them for a better tomorrow. Since 2004, we at SMILE searched for destitute homes which are without much support and which have been struggling to sustain to exist.
The various projects undertaken in SMILE are as below
Project Sadhana - Educational loan at 0% for students from low income group to pursue their education. We receive requests from SMILE members and news papers as Dinamani and Indian express
Project Atchaya - Supporting destitute homes and support them in their financial, infrastructural and educational needs.
Project Punnagai Pallam - Teams will be formed for each home which will assist them in their education and help them grow as better individuals.
Project Aripta - To help victims in event of any natural calamity.
SMILE has been supporting NGO's as SUYAM , Annai Sathiya Destitute home for kids in Waltex Road in Chennai, Home at Kosapet, GLC in Tambaram. Some of the SMILE members have been also teaching the kids basic Maths, Science and English to those kids. SMILE provided water purifiers and some basic amenities to homes under the Atchaya project. Also under Sadhana Project we have been supporting educational expenses of around 70 people by providing them with loans at 0% interest.
SMILE is run by individuals who are working full time in various organizations with a desire to make a change in the society. Every member of SMILE is encouraged to contribute in any way that he/she wants. You can contribute any amount of your choice every month to SMILE. All contributions made to SMILE are tax exempted under 80G status. You can contribute one time for any special occasions as Birthday or Anniversary. You can visit the destitute homes and spend your precious time with the kids and help them to smile. SMILE has a very transparent structure wherein all contributions made and expenditures incurred are mailed in a spreadsheet to all the members of SMILE.
What can I do?
If I could tell you about the dedication of my friends Guna, Gopi, Rajesh, Dinesh and Latha, I could talk for hours and hours about each of them. There is common misconception that we cannot balance our work life and help others. I often wondered how my dear friend Nandoo was able to manage both successfully. Once when I asked the same, he shot back "What we do here at SMILE is not very great. It is our responsibility. We received all our moral support from parents, relatives, school, and friends. SMILE is a platform to pay back what we have got to the society."
You could be a working professional or a college student who has a desire to do something soul satisfying...an opportunity where all we crave for is not money, but a word for appreciation.....just a smile. There must be some 10th or 12th standard kid near your house who has no one to advice them regarding their career and feels lost. Just hear their aspirations and guide them, or buy them notebook, or a pen as a good luck for their exams and say that you will pray for their success in the exams. You would be first person they would show their mark sheets to after their parents…..and in that moment you will feel an unexplainable joy and elation.
Just spare one weekend and visit some kids at a destitute home and you don’t even need to buy them sweets or chocolates. All they need is your love and affection and an hour or 2 of your precious time. Trust me...once you surrender to their smile and their affection and calls of Anna or akka....you will crave for more. Try this for one weekend and you will thank me for your life.
Why especially now mention SMILE?
On April 1, 2007 we at SMILE are celebrating our 3rd anniversary at Kumari Meena Muthayya College in Chennai. Check the poster for more details. If you want to be a part of this revolution please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go here and click the link JOIN SMILE. To know more about SMILE, click here .
As Mahatma Gandhi told "You must be the change you want to see in the world". Let us be the change and let us help a few more lives to SMILE.