A ‘smile’ is perhaps one of the best gifts God has bestowed on us. It helps to forget worries, sorrows and shortcomings. Some of us are however less fortunate, to be deprived of this precious gift due to a birth defect commonly known as a Cleft Lip and Palate. Children with these defects are unable to suckle or chew properly. The deformity makes these otherwise normal children, objects of ridicule and superstition.
Millions of children in India and other developing countries are born with this handicap. The good news is that almost all can be helped by skillful plastic surgery.
Godrej Memorial Hospital (GMH) along with a US based NGO ‘Smile Train’ conducts a program, for helping these very children from poor families. The program consists of primary consultation and screening followed by expert plastic surgery. The operation lasts for any where between 45 min. to three hours depending on the extent and complexity of the defect. Several of the patients are offered follow up speech therapy and other support services. Children operated at a younger age seem to derive optimum benefit. Over 300 surgeries have been successfully conducted at GMH till date. GMH offers surgery and hospitalization to the patient and one attendant completely free of cost. Deserving cases are also reimbursed travel costs by the hospital.
Table for Two
Godrej instituted the Indian chapter of ‘Table For Two’ initiative at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in December 2008. This initiative is targeted at addressing hunger and malnutrition in the developing world by combining the organization’s tradition of serving society and involvement of individuals.
Godrej pledged to collect funds that would be utilized to provide school children mid-day meals. The fund was created in three ways. Firstly, a ‘healthy meal’ option was provided in the canteen menus to the employees. The savings from the reduced use of oil and sugar were diverted to the central pool of funds for the ‘Table For Two’ initiative. This means that each time an employee ordered a ‘healthy meal’, the savings contributed to this fund and provided Godrejites with an even healthier alternative for lunch. Secondly, Godrejites voluntarily contributed a fixed monthly amount to the fund. Thirdly, the contribution from the ‘healthy meals’ menu was matched by Godrej and effectively combined corporate and employee participation.
The initiative has been a great success within the first few months of its inception – with a sizeable fund that is geared to feeding close to 780 school children and providing for 1,56,000 meals annually.
Teach for India
Teach for India (TFI) is a nationwide movement that aims to narrow the education gap in India by placing outstanding college graduates and young professionals, who commit two years to teach full-time in under resourced schools. They will become lifelong leaders working from within various sectors toward the pursuit of equity in education.
Godrej group has pledged to sponsor employees for the TFI Programme, as a contribution towards educational opportunity for all Indians. Godrejite Veena Verma was one of the recent 94 selected out of thousands of applicants.
The TFI Fellowship is a challenging assignment aimed at transforming the participant’s life. As a Teacher, each day is likely to offer multiple opportunities to confront and tackle challenges, motivate diverse stakeholders to work hard toward a shared vision, and create and adjust plans to move further towards their intended goals. Every TFI Fellow has two main responsibilities: classroom instructional leadership and community transformation project.
TFI is a part of the Teach For All global network ( www.teachforallnetwork.org )