Interview of Deepak Doddamani, Founder & President of Ashwamedh Foundation

Ms. Chhaya Chaudhary, a Third Year Journalism student from Deviprasad Goenka Management College of Media studies interviewed Mr. Deepak Doddamani, Founder of Ashwamedh Foundation


Team Ashwamedh with Students 

Here is the full Interview  in Q & A format: 


1.     What event made/influenced you to set up this NGO?

    I have 6 yrs experience of running Coaching Classes in Mumbai. During that period, I came across many poor families who couldn’t afford tuition fees of their children. That time we taught about 25% of students in nominal – to – no fees while running our coaching classes. After completion of my MBA, I decided to do something for such underprivileged children’s Education. With some like-minded friends and students, I founded Ashwamedh Foundation on 1st August 2012 in Virar to support Education and Development of Underprivileged Children.

       2.Any personal experience regarding the problems faced by the economically backward class children before opening up the NGO?

   I myself come from very humble background. I have 3 sisters and 1 brother, all elder than me. Five of us completed our education from BMC schools, followed by Govt aided schools run by Charitable Trust. My father was Govt employee but he was at lower position when we all were growing up. My mother is completely illiterate but she always knew importance of Education. My parents worked very hard to educate us. Our education has helped us to improve our lives. Therefore I do understand how important it is.
            Even before starting Ashwamedh Foundation I was involved in Educating underprivileged children and witnessed the problems faced by underprivileged children very closely.

     3.What issues did you face when you decided to open this NGO for the unprivileged kids?

    Social work sector has the biggest issue of high turnover. People don’t like to work in low paying industry like NGO industry. It was really hard for me to find like-minded people who can understand my vision and work selflessly.  Four of our Trustees left us in the very first year. Secondly, Charity Trust Commission office works really slow. It took us almost 1 year to get our organization registered. We got our Society Registration certificate on 29th January 2013 and Trust Certificate in July 2013. Thirdly, trusts are run only on donations from public. It was very tough for us to start an NGO with very low initial capital – and not a single donor.

4. How did your family and peers support you on your decision?

Initially, my family didn’t supported my idea of running an NGO. They wanted me to get some decent paying Professor Job based on my newly cracked NET exam in 2013. But  when actual field work of Ashwamedh Foundation started, they slowly started supporting me. My family members follow Facebook Page of Ashwamedh Foundation and they are really happy to see Team Ashwamedh doing great job in Child Education & development sector. 
      My friends feel I took wrong decision and ruined my career. They always felt that I was more suitable for Corporate sector. So obviously, they still don’t consider it was right decision. But yes, when it comes to helping Ashwamedh Foundation, they do it without any question. They follow our work closely.

5. How do you manage and run your organization? ( i.e how do you raise resources)

   Ashwamedh Foundation neither gets CSR funding nor Government Funding. We are still working with donations from Individuals who are following our Projects on Social Media. We also use crowdfunding website Ketto. Sometimes our Trustees too donate some funds to carry out operations of Ashwamedh Foundation smoothly.  We haven’t carried out any fund-raising events so far. But in future we will definitely go for all sorts of available legal sources of funds for growing our Organization and making it self-sustainable.

6. How do you manage the people/staff function in the NGO?

  Ashwamedh Foundation has created its organization structure and hierarchy as per its bylaws. The staff functions are very well documented in our trust deed, bylaws and policy papers. We follow them strictly which help everyone understand their roles and responsibilities properly. Members are very well managed by these legal documents. To manage our Volunteers, we have created a Team of Operations head, Program Manager and Project Co-coordinator which works under the guidance of General Secretary of Ashwamedh Foundation. This team looks after recruitment, training, grooming, delegating,  scheduling and remunerations etc. functions of the volunteers registered with Ashwamedh Foundation.

7. What were the first activities that you initiated the NGO with?

       Ashwamedh Foundation started it’s work with three sectors - Education, Environment and Healthcare sector in its First year. We carried out Career guidance seminars, Drawing competitions, Educational trips etc. We also organized Dengue malaria awareness camps, thyroid problems and diet-camps etc. We did activities like collecting E-Wastes for recycling, plantation, cleanliness drives etc.
     In Second year we dropped Environment sector and focused only on Education and Healthcare. This is when we devised our Flagship Program ‘Project Ankur’. From the third year we dropped healthcare sector too, and decided to focus completely on Education. ‘Project Aakaar’ started in this year. From fourth year onwards, Ashwamedh Foundation established itself as an NGO working in Child Education and Development sector completely.
         It was necessary to focus on our Core Area and we are doing it rightfully now.
Ashwamedh Foundation has two major Programs – Project Ankur and Project Aakaar. Project Ankur is related to Education and Project Aakaar is related to Development of Children.

8. Who are the NGOs in the same space or in general whom you consider as role models or benchmarks?

Akanksha and Pratham NGOs are our role models in this field. We do take inspiration from Teach For India program. A book 'Redrawing India: Teach for India Story' has made Shaheen Mistri and her Akanksha Foundation my role model & benchmark in this field for Ashwamedh Foundation. But more than that I take inspiration from Acharya Bhise who worked for Education and Development of Adivasi children. Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil, Savitribai Phule, Dhondo Keshav Karve and many such Social Reformers who did great work in Education Sector are my personal role models.

9. What are the creative and innovative things that your NGO has done in the last 3 years?

    I consider ‘Project Aakaar’ is the most creative and innovative project by Ashwamedh Foundation. As the name suggest ‘Aakaar’ is about shaping the personalities of Children in their early age. 'Project Ankur' focuses only on Educational aspect but approach of 'Project Aakaar' is holistic development of Children. We try to find out the best Skills in the Children and support them in grooming it. Project Aakaar starts with Value Education which is the most important foundation of Personality Development. We take help of Morale Stories from Panchtantra, Jatak katha. Aesop Niti etc. to make them understand the most important virtues in life.  This Project also teaches them basics of Time Management, Stress Management, Communication – includes public speaking, group discussion etc. We have trained our Members and Volunteers to use different tools to make sessions interactive and fun-learning. We do show them some motivational movies like – Poorna, I am Kalaam etc. time to time. We also conduct Crafts Workshop, Drawing Competitions etc. during this project. No wonder Project Aakaar is very popular among students.

10. Any message you would like to give the people in the society to motivate them to help the child education and development?

Teach them how to fish, instead of feeding them – fish a day. Child Labour is crime. Don’t spoil their Childhood by recruiting them for some odd jobs. Show them that world is better place and everyone has equal opportunity to grow. Sponsor/Donate education of at least one underprivileged Kid and help him/her create better future for himself/herself and for his/her family. One day he/she will give back to Society and circle will get completed. That’s the best way to ensure 100% literacy rate in India. These children are future of India. It’s our collective responsibility to provide them good quality education. So please come forward and support NGOs like Ashwamedh Foundation which are working for Child Education and Development.




                                 Mr. Deepak Doddamani
Founder & President, Ashwamedh Foundation
A/B- 401, Sindhu Garden CHS. Y.K.Nagar,
Virar (w), Palghar – 401303
Mob no: 9322269632
Email Id: ashwamedhfoundation@outlook.com







Comments

  1. This interview is a great read; gives some good insight on some of your thinking and decisions. Keep up the good work!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting
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    it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU
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