India has over 35 million children who need care and protection. It may sound like a herculean task to offer any help to them but 6 visionaries from Cochin, Kerala stepped forward in 2006 to transform outcomes for these children. Jithin Nedumala, Sujith Varkey, Kavin KK, Santosh Babu, Jithin John, and Varghese Gloria Benny laid the foundation for the NGO Make A Difference (MAD) a Guide Star India Certified foundation. Today the NGO works in 60 shelters spread over 23 cities across India to provide better futures for 3500 children. It is one of India’s largest millennial-driven, non-profit organizations working to transform outcomes for children in need of care and protection. The NGO’s work has been recognized by none other than Michelle Obama and Google.
The MAD model and values
The operating model is almost entirely volunteer driven with an overall workforce size of 4000 in a flat, distributed structure that runs on virtual infrastructure. Today MAD has 4,250 volunteers who strongly believe they can contribute to building a community around the children to change their future. MAD’s model is based on three values, which are,
-Cause above self
-Leadership through ownership
-Sense of family
A MAD idea
In 2006, Jithin, Sujith, and Kavin started to ask friends in Cochin if they could volunteer to teach children. 20 persons who would ‘Make A Difference’ signed up and the story began.
MAD’s idea was to lend a hand to all children in shelters across India so that they can realize equitable outcomes at par with any other middle-class child. By mobilizing the community, empowering the child, enabling the sector, and changing the ecosystem the NGO decided to work with children in an age-transitional way, from young childhood into adulthood, from ages 10 to 28.
From 2006 to 2010, the volunteers grew exponentially and so did the NGO’s initiatives. After that Make A Difference, decided to hire a full-time workforce in Bangalore to provide strategic and operational support for city teams around the country.
In 2010, Michelle Obama chose Make A Difference to be one of the four non-profit NGO’s she visited on her trip to India.
Children in Need of Care and Protection (CNCP)
The following are some of the Vulnerable Groups that comprise the CNCP whom MAD Care for:
- Street children
- Orphaned, abandoned and destitute Children
- Working children
- Abused children
- Children who are victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking
- Children engaging in substance abuse
- Children in conflict and disaster situations
- Children in families ‘at-risk’
- Differently-abled children
- Mentally ill children
- HIV / AIDS-affected / infected children
- Juveniles in conflict with the law
(Information credits MAD website)
The Age transitional Models:
MAD believes, a reasonable quality of life can be achieved for children if
1. They are free from exploitation, and
2 They develop an ability to cope with life crises.
To achieve the above, they focus on age groups:
– Foundation Skills 10 to 13 years
To provide functional literacy, functional numeracy, life skills and an emotional foundation, to prepare those children who have to leave the shelter at 14 years
– Academic Support 14 to 16 years
To provide additional academic support, learning skills, exam readiness, and career awareness for children to pursue higher education.
– Transition Readiness 16 to 18 years
To support young children in shelters to transition into the real world outside of the shelter. It involves career counselling, progression support, and documentation
– Aftercare 18 to 23 years
To introduce them to self-help groups, to assist with placements and scholarships, and mentor young adults to lead them to higher education, vocational training, or a job.
– Mentoring and buddy systems 23 to 28 years
To provide life coaching, relationship management, family planning, crisis support, and financial advice.
Events and Campaigns
Back-a-thon: This annual event is organized by MAD to create awareness about child illiteracy among the public. It’s a fun race where the participants walk backward.
Dream Camp is organized periodically for the kids. The camp provides the underprivileged kids, a stress-free environment where they could explore the world, understand and develop confidence towards achieving their dreams.
#NEVERTOOLATE, the campaign created a new kind of interactive impact media with flip-technology to allow a person to experience how taking action can transform a life!
Awards and recognition
- 2018: Ranked in India’s Top 10 Great Mid-size Workplaces
- 2010: Michelle Obama visits Make A Difference on her trip to India
- 2014: Invited to launch the Queen’s Young Leaders Trust via the first ever Royal Google + Hangout
- 2014: Received eNGO Challenge Award in Communications and Outreach category.
- 2014: Awarded Website of The Year India in Winner, Charities Category.