It all started with Praneeth finding out from his mother Noorjehan, a Government Officer, about the requirement of blankets for the 300 orphaned children and the 30 old women at a Home called“ShishuVihar”. He felt it to be unfair for all of them to brave the cold and wanted to do something for them. There stemmed the idea and the Team was thus formed with V. Vara Prasad, Ch. Prudhvi Krishna, C.L. Madhava Krishna, A.Naresh Kumar, Harivardhan, PavanBabu, Praneeth and me, TharunSholarajan who have all been close friends from our engineering days at VNR VJIET, Hyderabad, and began our attempts by persuading and encouraging people around us. We contacted many of our old friends, some of whom are now in the US and received a huge response. The students at Career Launcher (Hyderabad) were informed too. They were all quite enthusiastic and not only donated but also raised funds from others as well. Thus the network started spanning to new horizons.
We then decided to find out if anyone else other than us was interested in helping these poor kids and we went door-to-door spreading the word. We were quite surprised to see the number of people who were willing to give something : cash or kind, it didn’t really matter, the fact that they were donating showed us that humanity still existed among most people. There were two unexpected surprises in this process, first of which was from one of our friends, Ramakrishna, who was in the US for his M.S, who donated a substantial amount. This was a great contribution as he wasn’t employed and was struggling in the US, but still donated that money. The second was from a fruit vendor, who whole heartedly donated Rs.500/- of his hard earned money.
This was the turning point for us as this showed the kind of trust that people had in us and also that almost everyone is interested in reaching out to the needy and just needed a medium which they could trust their resources with. We decided to be the channel through which help was rendered. Our initial plan was to collect funds that would suffice to buy blankets and mattresses for them, but considering the amount of publicity it had generated, our funds were equally mind-blowing and by the end of the campaign, we ended up collecting around 10 times more than what we originally set out for!!! Now with such a large amount of funds in our kitty, we went miles ahead and purchased clothes, play equipment, lots of books and book shelves for the children, and a Television Set for the old women there.
After this, we spent the evening at ShishuVihar and left with loads of exuberance and a sense of increased responsibility. Our initial plan was this short term campaign, because we were all heading off to different horizons in lieu of our different career plans. However, this experience changed it all! At ShishuVihar, we had taken photographs, which we mailed to everyone who contributed and even to those who didn’t. We did this as we wanted to reinforce the trust that everyone had in us and contributed so generously, to show them that without them this wouldn’t have been possible. We also wanted them to feel the joy and exuberance that we felt when we visited the home.
Our Friends were mostly either in the US doing their MS or in India working for IT companies. They were so moved by the photographs that they spread the story where they were and wherever they went and started collecting funds. So, through word-of-mouth, the funds started pouring in, in huge proportions. We now started thinking about our long term plans and that the place that we are in shouldn’t be a barrier to our work, neither the distance between us. We started believing that this would only help us increase our network and help us reach out to many more people; both the people who would like to work for this noble cause and also people in need, as we would find people in need anywhere and everywhere. We invested these funds in places viz., The Good Samaritan Home in Pocharam Village, Devnar Blind School (Begumpet, Hyderabad), AshrayAkruti (Little Angels School for the Hearing Impaired, Hyderabad), etc.
Post these events, we received a substantial amount from NareshAgarwal, one of our classmates from college and this was just 2 days prior to Praneeth leaving to Kanpur. Naresh was both thankful to us that we shared the photographs with him and also sorry that he didn’t contribute the first time around. This was so unplanned and we realized how amazing it was that without any particular planning as such, we have achieved so much.
People continued to send funds though we never had any intention to keep this work going on. One fine day, we decided to name our organization and it was as if it were meant to be “A Ray of Hope…” Time and again, the trust and faith that everyone had in us was reinforced. We were in a bit of a dilemma as to what should be done; when Praneeth’s father advised us to continue the good work, and so we opened a community for Ray Of Hope in Orkut, a social networking site, which received a stupendous response.
This name stemmed from the hope that everyone has to lead a better life and there would always be someone out there for them, who would be, literally, their Ray of Hope…and the journey continues..