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Net Facilitator

In the world of social work and social networking,Chandni Parekh has created an unusual space for herself as the “go-to” girl for those in need and those wanting to help.

Written by Alison Saldanha |
July 8, 2012 7:32:04 am

In the world of social work and social networking,Chandni Parekh has created an unusual space for herself as the “go-to” girl for those in need and those wanting to help.

“It’s normal for friends to help each other,I just don’t limit myself to friends,” said Parekh who has been networking for numerous causes through Facebook,Twitter and the 10-odd e-groups she has been part of for the last six years.” There is little content on Internet on various requisites of NGOs,so I help out by posting and forwarding e-mails to relevant people and groups,” she said.

Parekh has aided NGOs organizing events,cash-strapped students searching for funds and even coordinated the city’s first Stand-Up Comedy fundraiser. “Karan Talwar,a stand-up comedian,got in touch with me through Twitter saying his crew would love to do a show free for a good cause. So I got to work,” she said with a smile.

According to Parekh,her pilot initiative on Twitter,Fund-A-Cause (FAC),began as an excuse to stay in the realm of 140 characters as Tweeting about the day and airing opinions discomfited her. With the FAC mouthpiece however,the tongue-tie seems suitably loosened. “I extend mails to tweets. At first I didn’t think there would be much to post,but so far there has been a perennial stream of tweets,” she said as FAC’s follower-count crosses 3,500.

Engaging in social work and attending numerous NGO events across the cityscape has been the building bricks of this Mulund-resident’s swelling network. Settled firmly in her web,she has now begun documenting all the NGO activities she attends to help donors understand better,whom they are funding. “I used to record these for my own use but I’ve now decided to share this along with the transcripts of all events. NGOs don’t have the resources to do it themselves and people don’t realize the effort that goes into an event – especially when it’s run on a shoe-string budget,” she said.

In her middleman niche,Parekh has developed an evenhanded perspective of NGOs. “There is a lot of mediocrity and inefficiency,and often there are unwise allocation of funds. But this is no excuse to stop social work,” she said decisively.

A social psychologist by day,her exposure to the field began at the age of 15 as a member of a Rotaract Club of which she was appointed president within two years. During her last year of college in 2003,she was one of the 40 select students the World Aids Foundation trained to hold a six-week HIV/AIDS education programme for adolescents. “I loved creating a space for the young to ask me anything,things they normally have no one to talk to about. A few years later I realized I want to hold my own tailor-made workshops on sexual education for them,” said the psychology graduate.

After a Masters in Social Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology,Parekh fashioned her module with a little help from numerous international organizations such as the WHO,and even filmmakers,who sourced her subject material. Over the past six years she has been conducting workshops at CBSE/ ICSE/ SSC schools,besides BMC schools and special schools. “So far I have never approached a school. It’s all word of mouth,” she said.

Almost 15 years into the field,Parekh is now a consultant for a social enterprise working on improved visibility,resources and support systems for NGOs. The wide network and experience she brings boosts the enterprise where she also writes a weekly column presenting information on free upcoming events across the country,advice and funding for NGOs and others through fellowships,scholarships,CSR projects and individual sources. So far,she has contributed 57 such pieces.

“This is the first year I’m on a regular payroll,” she said with a laugh.

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