When Roshni and I started Bella Kinesis, we knew that we wanted to make a difference. We spoke about things that mattered to us, and different ways through which we could possibly make an impact. So we found Mann Deshi, a NGO working in rural areas of India to give women an education, help them set up bank accounts and show them how to have lives independent of their husbands and fathers. We have had the greatest opportunity to personally meet the founder, Chetna Sinha, and ask her about what Mann Deshi is doing next.
Chetna was born and raised in Kutch, Gujarat and later moved to Mumbai to study Commerce and Economics at Mumbai University. When we asked her how she began Mann Deshi she simply said, “It just all fell into place”. She explained to us that after she finished studying, she became a teacher but soon felt that she had done as much as she could in the field of academia. She then moved to Mhaswad (near Pune), where her husband is originally from. She described how the women there often came to her for help with setting up bank accounts. They had previously been turned away because they were illiterate and could therefore not complete the paperwork. The banks did nothing to assist them.
Because of this, Chetna set up her own bank that was for women and run by women. It quickly turned into a full foundation, where she began teaching these women how to read, how to save their money and even offered them financial literacy courses. Since then Mann Deshi has expanded even more. They have now started a bicycle donation program. Chetna told us a story about a girl who was being pulled out of school at the age 12, because her school was to far away and her parents couldn’t afford to pay the travel expenses. This young girl took some initiative and approached Chetna. She negotiated that if she helped at the bank for two months, Mann Deshi would give her a bicycle to go to school. And so the ‘Freedom Ride’ bicycle program was created. The foundation has now provided more than 5,000 girls with a cost effective way to get to school, so they do not have to drop out of education.
Mann Deshi has also created a sports program to encourage children, who would have otherwise not had access to facilities, to get active. Within the first month, over 250 children signed up for the program. The kids are given the opportunity to learn from skilled teachers in activities such as, football, volleyball, running, badminton, long jump and many other games to increase their overall fitness and wellbeing. The kids not only develop skills like working with a team, but are also provided with the appropriate clothing, medical treatment and food they would not otherwise be able to afford.
Chetna and her foundation have won numerous awards, yet she is the most humble and down to earth person. We are so happy to be working and contributing to such a great cause that has already done incredible, life-changing work.
Keep improving yourself,
Shaleena and Roshni
What we’re listening to: ‘Across the Universe’ The Beatles