I have always followed with great interest the work of Mr.Vidyaakar who founded Udavum Karangal (UK) meaning, Helping Hands, a cause close to my heart and a big part of my growing years in Madras,India. Founded over 31 years ago, today the organization supports 2000 men, women and children who are orphaned. When I moved to the US in 2000 I became a part of the Bay Area Chapter of UK. We were a group of volunteers united in our desire to help. One thing that tied us together was that we all believed giving should be fun. Over the years we conducted numerous events around the bay and in keeping with the theme of fun our signature event was called Galaata (fun in Tamil). In 2011 for the final edition of Galaata called Galaata Premier League (an ode to IPL) we pulled in a crowd of over 1500, truly remarkable in this tough economy. It was amazing that a cause could bring together over 350 volunteers! In many ways it was awareness about UK that brought these volunteers together. UK is indeed a well-respected organization with presence in almost all countries with support from the likes of Night Shyamalan!
On the other end of the spectrum my trips to India exposed me to another side of nonprofit organizations. Organizations that you find in your local communities supporting the child of a domestic servant, single parent households etc., and help children attend school or even get a meal a day. These deserving causes were everywhere globally, doing wonderful work. I have often wondered “How are they being funded?” The answer invariably is by word of mouth.
Our group had built up incredible event management skills over the years of running Galaata and so the idea of supporting the efforts of these grass root charities with funding, marketing and publicity came to me. I reached out to my fellow volunteers who were now my closest friends. They each shared stories of causes they knew about in their communities and expressed their desire to join hands to help. Thus with 19 others I founded Aram Sei in January 2012. At Aram Sei we focus on projects in the areas of healthcare and education.
At the heart of Aram Sei is our core value of sustainability. We enable grassroots organizations by providing a platform for awareness and then help them build an organization that fosters respectable and sustainable living. On our end we are able to sustain the donor ship model by engaging with our local communities to make the act of ‘paying it forward’ fun. We conduct fundraising events around the Bay Area that include dance and music shows. We have the support of organizations such as Sanhiti– a leading Bay Area performing arts group that recognize us as their beneficiaries. With our group’s event management expertise we manage the operational aspects of the show allowing the performers to focus on doing what they do best- enthralling the audience.
Aram Sei also collaborates with the public libraries to create awareness programs and to encourage community participation. We partner with schools and after school programs to conduct educational and entertaining seed events, sowing the seed of giving in the minds of the young, including most recently the Math Bee at Rainbow Math in Fremont. These events help us in engaging with the young ones in our community who end up being some of our best spokespeople and volunteers.
We are fortunate to have a number of corporates such as Google, Qualcomm, Visa and Oracle that support us through various avenues like donor matching programs. Bay Area local businesses such as Madras Café/Groceries have been avid supporters of us since inception. K2SAT our knowledge partner has helped us in our numerous seed events around the bay and most recently Peel has been a huge supporter of Aram Sei. We also have support from philanthropists such as MR Rangaswami who has guided us from our humble beginnings and provides us with constant support personally and also through organizations such as Indiaspora.
Since inception, Aram Sei has identified and successfully funded four projects:
- 35 Children –St Thomas High School,Veerapandipattinam,India
- 85 Children – Arunodhaya center for Street and working children,Chennai,India
- 100 Children (HIV+) – Community Health & Education Society,Chennai,India
- 250+ Sexual Assault Victims – The Grateful Garment Project,Campbell,CA
In 2014 we have identified two new projects for support
- 140 children (Nomadic Community) – Vanavil Trust,Nagapattinam,India
- 120 Children – Pudiyador,Chennai,India
And will be focusing on several new initiatives:
- The PUPIL Project – providing supplemental education to Underserved Pupils in the US through International Learning
- Community Outreach Programs with SJ Public Libraries – promoting learning and community participation
- AramSei – Signature event for the young incorporating “learning” and “giving”
No contribution is small at Aram Sei. For example for $50 one can provide for the education and a nutritional meal for a beneficiary at Pudiyador or Vanavil our projects for 2014. When you think about it, that works out to less than 15 cents a day to keep a child in school and fed. That is the impact of these grassroots charities.
Aram Sei welcomes your feedback, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you great beginnings in the New Year 2014