Blog by Hemang Desai, Co-founder & Treasurer, Ray of Hope International Foundation…
As Ray of Hope International Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary this year, I am taking a moment to reflect upon the work we have been doing. For the past few years, we have been focusing on two programs – our local program in Philadelphia with Inglis, and our India program with Gwalior Hospital & Education Charitable Trust (GHECT). Our goal with these programs has been to maintain continuity, create greater impact through ongoing collaboration & build a framework to support these wonderful organizations.
In this blog, let’s take a deeper look into our India program.
Our relationship with GHECT goes back a few years. When my wife, Anwesha & I were doing our MBA in 2005, we came across the work that Dr. Sharma (the founder of GHECT in India & Gwalior Children’s Charity in the UK) was doing in Gwalior with his organization. We were instantly drawn to the commitment & resiliency he showed in driving his cause to improve the lives of the local community, particularly children. Fast forward a few years – when we established Ray of Hope, it only made sense to join hands with the man that has been such an inspiration to us for his selflessness & dedication to that community.
What have we done with them?
GHECT operates an orphanage called “Snehalaya” for children with special needs, and a school for rural kids from around the Gwalior community in their integrated campus. Our program with GHECT is based on a long-term partnership to drive sustainable social impact within the local community. The program has two primary focus areas – healthcare for the Gwalior & surrounding community, and building sustainable infrastructure to improve the lives of the beneficiaries of GHECT.
GHECT used to operate a rural outreach health camp in nearby villages, which was operational only 2 days a week. They were interested in expanding the program to reach more beneficiaries but lacked the resources to do so. Moreover, the mobile van that was being used to run these camps would often break down hindering their ability to successfully run the camp those 2 days.
Our first project with them was aimed at rectifying this situation. Through Ray of Hope’s support, GHECT was able to purchase a new van in 2012 for the rural outreach program. This van doubles up as a ‘school bus’ and serves to transport children from nearby villages to and from the school, enabling kids to attend school who otherwise would not be able to do so. Furthermore, starting in 2013, we have funded the expansion of the rural health program to 6 days a week, covering 20+ villages and serving over 120,000 people per year. In 2015, to further improve the quality of healthcare that can be provided to the community, we funded a fully equipped ambulance to be used for more acute cases where patients need transport to a hospital or other medical facility.
In addition to the rural health program, we’ve worked with GHECT on a few infrastructure initiatives. Two key projects are the installation of solar panels in 2014 to provide predictable energy supply and the installation of a water storage tank last year to provide clean water to the children at the orphanage & school. This coming year, we’re supporting the construction of a safety wall around the campus to ensure the safety and security of the large number of children within the campus, as well as to comply with some new government regulations in this regard.
Impact of our program:
The continued partnership with GHECT over the last 6 years has enabled us to provide basic healthcare in 20+ villages for over 120,000 people each year. The program continues to improve basic healthcare access in the villages surrounding Gwalior. The mobile van funded by Ray of Hope, not only makes these rural health camps possible, but also enables those children, who would otherwise not have a means to get to school, to be able to get an education. The infrastructure project to install solar panels enables GHECT to have a reliable power supply at their facilities, which is especially important given the hot climate in Gwalior. And finally, the water storage tank enables the wonderful children to have a sustained clean water supply, and helps reduce the occurrence of many water-borne diseases.
These past 7 years have been a truly remarkable & rewarding experience, and we’ve seen first-hand the power of a community coming together to serve others. Thank you for your partnership, trust & support to our causes over the years.