Mumbai: Enriched with a warmth and smile side to her gracious, stylish and beautiful persona, Komal Kiran Udhwani, the chief trustee of Elysium Smiles Foundation, an NGO dedicated to helping kids from underprivileged strata gain access to education, stresses that small gestures by the reasonably endowed could mean a new world to the needy in the vicinity.
This perspective shared with her co-trustees, Vishal Agarwal and Subbhash Hotchand Udhwani, led to the formation of Elysium Smiles, that organized a virtual creativity competition for their 47 beneficiary kids, during the present gloomy lockdown, to infuse positivity in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The initiative and the NGO may not be considerably large, but the impact on those benefitting from it would certainly be huge. Elysium Smiles ensures this world of difference to the under-privileged and needy kids they serve through various modest initiatives.
The kids were asked to send their creative work in the form of a drawing, sketch, essay, story or poem on the theme of ‘happiness’. The trustees judged the winners based on imagination, thought process, creativity quotient and novelty of thought, informed Komal.
Aradhya Pawar (2nd Std.) won the 1st prize for her drawing depicting family as happiness. Rukaiya Jafri (10th Std.) and Supriya Yadav (10th Std.) shared the 2nd prize honors for their drawing. Harsha Shinde (9th Std.) won the 3rd prize for her essay and she shared this prize with Rajnandini Gautam (9th Std.) who won it for her drawing. Harsha, in her essay, pointed out how the pandemic caused the pollution to decrease and the family to enjoy with each other. The consolation prize winners were Ajay Gaikwad (13th Std.) for his poem, Priti Rana (6th Std.) for her essay and Muskan Mujawar (5th Std.), Vrushali Muthenwar (4th Std.) and Omkar Mete (5th Std.) for their drawing. All participants and winners were given cash awards, which were transferred online. The competition engaged the children and their parents together during the lockdown in a pleasant assignment, remarked Vishal Agarwal.
Should a panipuri seller’s son just follow his father’s occupation, should not under-privileged children break the shackles of poverty gripping their family and compete with children from private schools, these concerns led to the formation of Elysium Smiles. This 3 years young NGO has helped more than 100 kids from the underprivileged strata gain access to education till date, stated Komal.
Elysium Smiles invites applications based on the basic eligibility criteria – orphan kids, kids from BPL families and rental homes, kids with some sort of disability or born to disabled parents and kids appearing for Board Examinations. After that a telephonic verification and a field investigation of the family is carried out before finalizing the beneficiaries.
This NGO organizes 3 events annually for their beneficiary kids, that include a welcome event with counselling session by experts, a drawing competition where kids are also taught basics of self-defence and an award ceremony at the end of the academic year. Elysium Smiles celebrates all festivals with orphan kids at Abundant Life Academy, Goregaon.
Apart from education, Elysium Smiles has carried out female foeticide awareness and health check-up campaigns in slums, helped flood-affected with aid and recently helped 50 daily wage-earning families of Vitawa slum in Thane affected by the pandemic with basic essential ration.
Stating that Elysium Smiles plans to touch lives of additional 100 students in the coming year, Subbhash Udhwani informed that sponsors get an option of funding any cause of the NGO or sponsoring a particular student, wherein they receive the student’s academic updates regularly.
In keeping with their motto of spreading smiles, Elysium Smiles has always come forward for various causes, just as they collected Rs. 40,000/- from their network of contacts and helped a little girl undergo a successful heart surgery recently. The NGO funded the physiotherapy sessions of a tumour afflicted patient, who was rendered bed ridden, compelling his wife to work as a maid and his boys to look after household chores. These opportunities to serve bring great joy to the organization and bigger relief and smiles on the face of the beneficiary, opines Komal Udhwani.