While young party-goers stood in line to pay their entry charges at a lounge in Koregaon Park on July 5,not only did they have a smile on their faces but also wore a smile on their badges. These smile badges were sold by Alifiya Pratapgharwala,who had just launched The Smile Project India.
With a public relations background,Pratapgharwala had a knack for organising events. She had organised many events and got to know many people; some influential,some rich,some who had wanted to do social work but didnt know how to start,and others who were talented and needed to be promoted but didnt have the means to do it themselves. During her stay in the UK,studying a Masters course in fashion marketing and communication,she witnessed how charity and social work was a regular part of life there. She saw the contrast in charity in India,and wanted to make a change. Starting small,she looked for lesser-known NGOs,which do genuinely good work and sought ways to raise funds for them. Like the smile badges which were sold to raise funds for a de-addiction centre called Santulan.
The campaigns we organise work in two ways; the first purpose is to raise funds,and the second is to spread awareness about their work. When we organised the campaign for Santulan at High Spirits,hardly anyone knew about de-addiction centers and the work they do there. We hosted the Say no to campaign,where we gave everyone a slate and asked them to write whatever they feel one must say no to, says the 23-year-old,who managed to collect a total of Rs 62,500 for the centre within two hours.
Encouraged by the success of her first campaign,Pratapgharwala took up the cause of raising funds for the victims of the Uttarakhand disaster. Last week,she sold freshly-baked brownies made by her sister-in-law at at a city mall. Within a few hours all the brownies were sold out. We managed to raise a handsome amount for our Uttarakhand fund. To back this campaign,we organised another event at High Spirits on Friday where I sold the smile badges again, says Pratapgharwala.
The entire amount will be collected and given to the NGO Sahil,which will see to the correct use of the fund for the flood victims. While Pratapgharwalas main aim is to raise funds for the NGO,it is not where her duty ends. She actively takes part in the process of distributing funding in the NGOs and keeps track of the flow to rule out any misuse of funds provided by her efforts. People who buy the badges or brownies put their trust in me as they make a contribution. They believe that it will be used for a good cause,and I in turn give it to the NGOs in the same good faith. But I take it as a responsibility towards everyone who has made a contribution to see that it is used appropriately and not pocketed by anyone or wasted in any way, she says.