The year 2009; twitter was emerging rapidly in India and with almost everyone tweeting. One Saturday afternoon in April, the same year, Mumbaikar Chandni Parekh received an invitation from her friend to join Twitter; joining only with the intention of reading her friends tweets with no particular interest in networking or tweeting. A week went by and the next Sunday morning, the 19th of April, she recollected the many financial appeals through e-groups for projects and medical treatment, from NGOs and on occasions from individuals. The idea of sharing these appeals as tweets struck her. And after contemplating on a few names with her friend, she changed her account handle from Chandni to Fund-A-Cause, and the legacy had begun.
Since the inception of the idea, a little over two and a half years ago, Fund-A-Cause now is a nationally acclaimed initiative that has channelled funds to numerous causes. F-A-C has grown from being a twitter account to a blog and a Facebook page that connects thousands and has continually tried to raise funds for anyone in need farmers, the adivasis, the unemployed, the critically ill, the poor students, those affected by natural calamities, and even endangered animals.
What inspires us the most about Chandni is that she is not only the pioneer of F-A-C but also a Social Psychologist who has taught courses in Counselling Psychology, conducts workshops on Sexuality Education and Sexual Abuse for schools and colleges, and consults with NGOs. Moreover, Chandni’s interest does not only lie in merely raising funds but also in helping reach out to the ones who cannot be reached out.
Chandni says, “The belief behind F-A-C is that once we learn about someone’s financial need and are motivated to shake off the lack of empathy or trust that might be preventing us from helping, we will contribute”. On being asked about the predicament of society towards NGOs, she mentions that while many NGOs do attempt to address the structural and systemic inequities that affect our country, there seems to be a general lack of motivation on the part of laypeople to think of the different ways in which they can make a difference to the lives of the less privileged.
She further argues, “Being sensitive to other people’s realities and the effort made by NGOs does not always mean providing monetary help. It can also mean donating our time, skills, ideas, creativity and resources”. F-A-C attempts to make people realise that they have a role and responsibility in ameliorating the lives of others around them, and in using and sharing their money more wisely, she adds. Finally she emphasises “It’s easy to get desensitised to the problems of other, poorer people in our country. Young people need to be honest to themselves and reflect on their reasons for not doing their bit to make a difference rather than stating that ‘The system won’t change'”.
As with any other case, great deeds rarely go unnoticed, F-A-C has been featured more than 16 times in the media, with 2000+ followers and 100+ lists in twitter (which by far is a no easy task), over 260,000+ blog hits and about 500 followers on Facebook. Chandni was awarded the First Citizen in the contest conducted by the American Center for the citizens of Western India for this effort.
We at The Biscuit are inspired by your work and your story. We would like to acknowledge your effort as our Favourite Initiative of this month. Our nation is indebted to you for the noble cause you have pledged yourself to. It is people like you Chandni Parekh who change this nation; you have our respect, Kudos.
|You can visit FAC on http://fundacause.posterous.com/ Follow FAC on Twitter @FundACause Like FAC on Facebook Fund-A-Cause.You too can contribute towards F-A-C, by reading the posts on F-A-C, sharing the posts, making financial contributions, and by offering your time and skills.|
|We would like to thank Kiran Manral who had introduced us to F-A-C. You can also get more info on her on http://www.thirtysixandcounting.wordpress.com and follow her on twitter @kiranmanral|
|We specially thank R. Lalita for helping us find F-A-C. You can get more info on her on http://lrfascinations.wordpress.com/ and follow her on twitter @rlalita|
|Author: Ankita Mishra
Editor: Ajith Alex Jacob
Photography: Vinod Sreedhar