I never imagined I would be walking on my mother’s steps, but here I am,” says Raashi Aanand, Founder of Lakshyam NGO that works for the welfare of undermined
societies. Her mother is also into the social service and an activist herself, who devoted her life in bettering the underprivileged sections she came across.
Raashi has closely seen cruelties of life and knew how life unfavors some people. Deriving inspiration from her mother, ‘Lakshyam’ she started this organization after her name in Ranchi.
Raashi reviewed numerous bastis in Delhi to find out what problems people from the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) communities faced. “I used to travel to college in autos and noticed unkempt kids with scraggy hair, circling around every vehicle at the red light, and when the light showed green, they would cluster and play with plastic bottles,” says Raashi. She would see this enormity every day and decided to collect used toys from door to door and distribute them amongst these.
Lakshyam, the organization mainly works for children and women empowerment. Under the children development programs, it has initiated two holistic endeavours. One as a Butterfly and other as a Toy library which helps children for their educational and emotional purposes.
Under Butterfly Lakshyam facilitate decent education to children, which covers not just the academic front but healthcare and sanitation as well. The title ‘Butterfly’ symbolises freedom with the wings and hence relates education with freedom of living. Education in this program covers knowledge about healthcare, water, sanitation, academics, and life. In addition to these, activities such as paintings, music, dance, acting, meditation, etc., are included. Experienced faculties are present to teach the students. “Education and holistic development are weapons against all social evil,” Raashi says.
In 2004, Lakshyam opened India’s first-ever toy library in Delhi. Toys are a beautiful part of every kid’s childhood but some children are not so privileged to have them in their lives. Raashi noticed it and took her first step towards Lakshyam. The toy library turned out to be a huge success and is now a part of every Lakshyam centre.
Rooh is Lakshyam’s women empowerment programme which educates them in different marketable skills, providing them livelihood and workshops for health and hygiene. It has trained more than 8,000 women in making cloth bags and producing phenyl out of cow urine to sell in the market. With also that it educated women of their rights and how to protect them in a male dominant society.
In this COVID-19 outbreak, as the demand for masks surged in the market, women in the organization were assigned the task to make reusable ones. For every mask and bag, the NGO paid them Rs 5-8 per piece, subsequently helping them earn a living during the lockdowns.
The NGO does not receive any funds from any corporate organizations or government bodies. Lakshyam is functional in 11 states in India with its head office in Kaushambi. Delhi. Each state has a different head of operations which operates under Raashi’s guidance. She says that they operate on a low budget and thus becomes extremely hard to fit in all initiatives with minimal funds. “In addition, undergoing heavy promotional activities takes a lot of funds, which sometimes leads to lower results as well. Salaries of the employees are a part of running cost budget.” Raashi says, “My team is the sole reason why Lakshyam stands where it is.” She adds
The work Raashi and her Organization did receive many appreciations and awards. In 2012, the BBC covered Lakshyam highly appreciating the efforts. In 2013, Navaratan Foundation awarded the ‘Nari Shashatikaran Award’ to Raashi for the Youngest Social Worker. Entrepreneur India Summit 2013 (Asia based) awarded her with the ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’. In 2014, UTV Bindaas ‘B for Change’ awards felicitated four changemakers of India, one of them being Raashi. In 2015, Lakshyam received an award for ‘Outstanding Performance in the Field of Social Work’ at Shaksiyat Awards 2015. In the same year, Raashi won the ‘Women of Vision’ awards at the GTM Holistic Awards.
Raashi visioning about future says “My big dream, is to see the world as I envision it. I do not wish to fight for women empowerment or child welfare, in fact, I wish to fight for a world where every being is equipped with the right weapon to tackle their problems. That weapon, I believe, is education and holistic development. From sex discrimination to terrorism, education single-handedly solves most misconceptions that lead to these social disasters.”
Women like Raashi have worked to bring change in their country. Yes! The change might not be that visible to many of us but it is undoubtedly an impactful one. She has laid an inspiration to many young minds of her age.