To say you desire a world where everybody lives in harmony, unity and cooperation may seem like a utopian idea. But 19-year-old Meghana Dabbara is already laying the foundation for this utopian world in Medchal on the periphery of Hyderabad.
The dwellers of this world are 50 children from underprivileged sections who are imbibing values of empathy, understanding and positivity in addition to education, nutrition and all-around psycho-social development at home in Medchal.
Believing a harmonious world can be achieved through a positive environment and not corporal punishment, Meghana Dabbara and her friends and fellow core team members, Khyathi Chodagiri from Hyderabad, Saumya Katuri (18) from California, and Pranita Garimella (20) from New York started Make The World Wonderful, an NGO with a vision of a world where people live in harmony, starting with children first.
Today, they are using unconventional methods to ‘Make The World Wonderful’ in numerous ways.
The inspiration behind the NGO ‘Make The World Wonderful’ dates back to when Meghana was ten years old and would listen to bedtime stories of her mother’s harmonious village, where people helped each other and co-existed in harmony.
By the age of 13, an older Meghana was taken aback at the stark contradiction that existed between her mother’s stories and the harsh realities of the world outside.
It was then that she decided to get onto the mission of creating a world where harmony was the underlying value.
It was only in 2015 that iB Hubs connected Khyathi, Saumya and Pranita, three young and passionate girls with similar visions. Together the four young girls are working towards their vision of harmony.
“My mother is my inspiration. And I am ever grateful to the iB Group, who encouraged me to realise my vision and make it a reality,” Meghana told The Better India.
Following the NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) curriculum, children are encouraged to look at the world in a new light with a number of activities and programmes.
The young team has designed and researched various activities focussing on the core essence of values, integrating them into the children’s regular curriculum.
For instance, one of the activities encourages them to answer the question, “Have you filled your bucket today?” It is a program where each child has his or her own invisible ‘bucket,’ which symbolises their mental and emotional self.
So, a full bucket means you feel more confident, secure, calm, patient, and friendly, while an empty bucket may make you sad, insecure, angry, stressed, afraid, or physically ill.
Another activity encourages them to make a list of ten blessings they are grateful for and why, while appreciating that blessing as much as they can.
Another modern-day ritual is that of holding the stone of gratitude (‘Magic Stone’) in their hand and reminding themselves about the best thing that happened that day and feel thankful for it before they sleep every night.
These are kids who have lived and seen the world with its harsh realities before getting adopted under MTWW’s Child Adoption Programme (CAP).
Be it, Pooja and Rajeshwari who were left orphaned after their father was stabbed to death and mother passed away of mental shock, or the story of Aarthi and Abhishek who were asked to discontinue studies by a drunk father after their mother died in an accident, as their older elder sister was struggling to buy a one time meal.
Today, each of them has a transformation story to tell.
The children also engage in writing and reading aloud positive affirmations about themselves every day. Five times before going to bed and another five moments after waking up, it’s like music to the ears to hear a child saying, ‘I am a happy and loving kid. I respect everyone and everything. I love to learn!’
They also have weekly sessions, where they gather and share their success stories with their friends.
In order to build a stronger family bond between the children, another program pairs older kids with a younger one. The idea is to encourage them to look after each other.
While the older kid ensures the younger one eats meals on time, attends classes, and completes their duty, it helps the younger kid imbibe values from his/her older partner and become independent.
These kids who once entered with immense emotional baggage are now not only able to take care of themselves but also are able to help other kids today. Every child also has a mentor, who guides them in all aspects of life.
Shedding light on the challenges of having to work together the first time and gather children from the village, the girls say, “It was a challenge in the beginning because we did not know who we were working with. Not only did we come from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, but the villagers did too. But we decided to see, respect and accept children 100% as they were. That’s what made all the difference and helped us bring the children together and inculcate the will for a harmonious world.”
The impact of the organisation reflects in the story of a six-year-old Mehwish, who told a stranger who offered biscuits to her from the entire lot, “We all stay together and share everything, if you want to offer me something, please offer it to all of us”.
Another time, a physical fight broke out among kids of another NGO at a local college festival when they were staying overnight in shared rooms. The fight was due to a lack of blankets. While most students resorted to flinging things across the room and pulling each other’s hair, the students from MTWW calmed the other children down, resolved the conflict, offered their own blankets and approached the administrators calmly for more blankets.
“We never dictate to the children how they have to behave outside. But living in this culture of harmony has helped them react to situations in ways different than most other kids are likely to do. This is the kind of generation we want to create; one in which the individuals are not only empowered, but set great examples and empower those around them too,” says Pranita, speaking to The Better India.
The four young girls have been lauded nationally and internationally in conclaves at the Youth Assembly at the United Nations (New York), Global Changemakers Conference(Switzerland), BIT Mesra, IIIT RK Valley, NIT Raipur, and IIT Kharagpur (where Meghana’s journey was undertaken as a case study in a course).
“We want to maximise our reach to cater to all children transcending criteria of economic background, culture, religion etc. Because we truly believe every child counts,” says Pranita.
Connect to Make The World Wonderful here.