If I tell you to imagine a happy child’s face,the most generic picture that would pop in your head would be that of an innocent child with wide admiring eyes and a toothy grin, a doting mother sitting beside her child and willing to do anything for the child’s wellbeing, a father that would always keep the best interests of his child at heart, a home that shelters this family and a society that supports it. Now the problem with this imaginative picture is the fact that most of us take this privilege for granted. There are many children out there who do not have the privilege of painting such a picture in their life. This is what struck Abhishek Dubey, and this is how the Muskaan Dreams Creative Foundation was born.
Abhishek was a B.Tech student from Gwalior who was disturbed by the difference in privileges among children from different communities. Given his upbringing in a tier-3 city, he could clearly identify the difference in privileges in his close communities and how it affected the upbringing of children. He, therefore, decided to paint this happy picture for a few destitute children who lived near his house and share his privilege for a day with the kids. He took them to a nearby McDonald’s to feed them and to get to know more about their lives. It was this outing which changed Abhishek’s life upside down and gave him a reality check on the things he had taken for granted. During the visit, a child asked Abhishek if he could tutor him because he wanted to learn and study but had no one to teach him. Abhishek was surprised to know the fact that these children who wanted to study, learn and grown had no resources available. This lit a fire within Abhishek to do something to help these children who had pulled the short end of the stick through no fault of their own.
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It started as ‘Learn while you Work’ process for Abhishek, who was still in college when he started the foundation. He first started by teaching and mentoring 70 children on the weekends in the orphanages of Gwalior with his group of friends and later established the foundation by starting to create course modules for destitute children. Soon he was designing full-fledged curriculums and serving hundreds of children by recruiting more and more young students. Today, Muskaan Dream runs 3 main models – First, a classroom program where value-based learning environment is created by allotting one mentor to a group of 4-5 kids and each child is given individual attention in the theoretical subjects as well as a role model to look up to. Secondly, the Highfly program where students above the age of 18 are provided with financial aid, skill development training and placement opportunities to further their education/work and to break their cycle of poverty. Thirdly, various awareness campaigns and workshops are conducted by experts for children to give them exposure to the outside world and to help them in making the right choice for their future.
What started with a small lunch outing with a few destitute children, Abhishek’s Muskaan Dreams has now expanded from Gwalior to multiple other cities in MP including Bhopal and Indore and impacted more than 5000 students in the process. Recently the foundation launched its flagship program by introducing the first fully digital E-learning government school in Gwalior, including state of the art facilities to entice the students in the learning process and create a fun atmosphere to learn and grow. They wish to solve the problem of insufficient teachers in rural government schools through e-learning (self-learning) classroom for the students so that students can easily learn anything related to their subjects through virtual classroom through the Internet. Their goal is to create 150 government E-learning classrooms, which will transform the lives of more than 25,000 students in 150 villages of India. The young team recently raised an impact investment of Rs. 1.5 crore from the Vedanta Group to take this ambitious project forward.
Muskaan Dreams Foundation is now a fully established youth driven NGO, which aims to provide high-quality education along with a loving environment to destitute children. Muskaan means smile and Muskaan Dreams is doing exactly that with their mission to adorn a smile on the face of every child on earth.
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CII Foundation’s Woman Exemplar Program recognizes exemplary grassroots women change agents who are working to transform excluded and disadvantaged communities of India in the fields of education, health and micro-enterprise in India. Every year 15 finalists are chosen, and 3 are declared winners, with prizes of Rupees 3 Lakhs to the winners and access to a six-month mentoring and leadership process to all finalists. Click Here to know more.[infobox]
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