A positive movement that provides a platform to changemakers to showcase their work and also connects them to like-minded people, SoCh is changing one city at a time. From bringing people together to helping them expand their reach, SoCh covers many grounds. Bhavana Nissima shares with us her experience of the community driven initiative in Hyderabad.
The Better India website brings together stories that restore our faith in humankind, uplift our spirits when cynicism dwells heavy, awaken empathy, string us back to the community of sharing, of friendship. From these stories emerge new connections, new meanders, new possibilities for joy, for self and all.
Just like The Better India, but on a face-to-face level, is a movement in Hyderabad that brings together people and organizations to tell the story of good, of love and of giving. Yes, they prefer to call the idea a movement and not an organization. And the movement is called SoCh.
What does SoCh do?
Biannually, they conduct a SoCh event where social changemakers in the city of Hyderabad tell the story of their work, who they have affected, and how they did so. At the end of the event, you become silent in respect, and then join in to applaud the positive spirits in this city. So far they have conducted three such events and the fourth will be held on November 1st this year.
Who is behind SoCh? A group of individuals from various walks of life—Subhorup Dasgupta (social media consultant), Madhavi Dasgupta (medical transcriptionist), Nivedita (owner, Nivasini Publishers), Raj (software engineer) and Asrar (HR head). This is what they say:
“We accept without judgement, the inability or unwillingness of those entrusted with social improvement to translate their mandate into effective action. We believe social change has to be organic and cannot be thrust on a people. We believe that the individual contains the multitudes and that all it takes is one individual to initiate the process of change. We believe in the collective wisdom and power of a people to determine and implement what is best for them. We believe that all we need is love, and the willingness to express that love through tangible action.”
Who are the changemakers presented so far?
To name some: Thodu-Needa – an organization that assists senior citizens seeking companionship; Adhya Educational Society – an academy that improves and supports educational experience for students from socio-economically challenged and disadvantaged conditions; Our Sacred Space – a community arts space for preserving and encouraging traditional art forms (find The Better India article on them here); Society to Save Rocks—a group committed to preserving the ancient granite rock formations in the city (find The Better India article on this group here) ; Anju Khemani who works with the hearing impaired in the community; Chandrasekhar on how he teaches photography for the visually impaired; Amit Deshwal with Centre for Learning (that he sometimes calls as Centre for Unlearning); Autism Society of Andhra Pradesh; Satya Harishchandra Foundation (which cremates unidentified and unclaimed bodies); Aahaar Kuteer (a restaurant that serves millet-based meals to raise money for its NGO, Arpan Trust) and many others. You can visit their Facebook page for info on all changemakers presented at SoCh so far.
SoCh events accord the opportunity for social changemakers to showcase their work before like-minded individuals. Many of these changemakers work anonymously. Some work against resistance. Some work despite lack of resources or funds. These events give them visibility and the audience inspiration and perhaps new directions. These events often get promoted on mainstream media which increases the spiral of support to social change work within the city.
But is that all that happens?
No. SoCh creates a momentum where folks begin to intersect their skills. For example, Nivasini Publishers are bringing out a booklet later this year that will provide easy-to read material on topics like Autism, written by local social changemakers. Adhya Educational Society supported Our Sacred Space children’s summer workshop this year. Our Sacred Space dancers performed to raise awareness and in support of Society to Save Rocks. All these interconnections bring about a community that is vibrant, positive and hopeful.
And yes, folks at SoCh welcome people in any city to start SoCh events, to catalyse the Better India, once city, one town at a time. Please let them know so they can promote the same on their page.
– Bhavana Nissima