Site vist by Chaitanya from Boston
Vinayak is from Bhopal and Chet knows his older sister. Vinayak is a brilliant guy who went to IIT and IIM, and then decided that the corporate world was not for him and started Parivaar in 2003 with 5 children. The criteria was children who were “at risk”. The first five children were girls, picked up from the platforms and are still at the school and in class XI. Children typically come in at ages 5-7, tend to be wards of the state with Parivaar having some guardianship. Some children have extended families, some mothers are sex-workers, and Parivaar tries to keep the family connections by having family days, etc.
Vinayak is motivated by Vivekananda’s philosophy, and that is what Parivaar is based on. The organization is run on those principles – no fundraisers are hired, budgets are managed within what is in their reach. Believed if that good work is done then the funds will come. The group has grown from 5 children to 550 children now. All students are residential, they live in dorm type rooms. One bathroom per wing. About 12 buildings total. Dorms are 3 stories, school and administrative buildings are 2 stories. Parivaar location is about 50 minutes from Calcutta. They were able to get cheap land.
The day starts at 7.00am (6.00am for the adults), after a snack have an early morning session (homework and tutoring), and then have the main breakfast. A lunch break after classes, which is a bigger meal than dinner. Students are taught in house till class IX, and then send them to local private schools. Part of the reason is to have them to re-integrated into society, away from the sheltered environment. Chet visited some of these private schools and the children seem to be thriving (one of the girls is #2 in her class).
The philosophy is to have the entire organization like a “family” and support the students through college, in whatever they want to do. Extra-curricular activities are encouraged such as music, dance, drama, games, and events like the world cup soccer (when Chet visited) are followed. The idea is to provide inspiration for the kids. Provide to access to resources that would help them be successful.
The annual budget is around $450K.
Girls dorms being built, and that is what the project-specific donation is for. They will be able to accommodate 200 girls after that.
Children come from the city or from tribal regions in the area. Children come to them when social workers (who work for the state) bring them to Parivaar. Criteria is how “at-risk” the child is. At-risk children would be children without parents, without any adult caretaker.
Growth of the organization – how could it grow so fast? This is because of clarity of vision while selecting staff. Have an educational background and typically come from a rural setting. Specialty staff come in for shorter periods of time. Children of the teachers can go to this school. All the staff live there, including several who are married. All come from nearby villages and towns. Typically their families don’t live there, so the staff will go visit every so often. There are specialized teachers (for Maths, Science, etc.) who come in the evenings, often from the city. The staff teach language, social studies and so on up to middle school, with specialized teachers taking over at the higher classes.