I sit, across a cup of coffee from Elaine Ghosh , a passionately formidable woman and the founder of the Parinaam Foundation. It was scheduled to be a quick interview but we’re running on three hours and counting, every minute of which has had me riveted. In between talking about the work that Parinaam does, I’ve received life lessons about love and compromise, a recipe or two and anecdotes of hope and transformation from the urban slums where Parinaam endeavors to make a difference.
Parinaam was founded in 2006 to cater to the educational and healthcare needs of urban poor women. Understanding that providing financial support alone is not enough to help the poor; Parinaam tackles the larger indexes of poverty by providing services in the areas of healthcare, education, livelihood, community development initiatives and social support as well. Parinaam provides these services through their strategic partnership with Ujjivan, a highly respected and regarded micro-finance institution.
We are joined by Mallika, Elaine’s daughter who gave up a cushy advertising job one morning and decided to do so much more by joining Parinaam. The Ghosh mother-daughter team is a hurricane of differing opinions, strong personalities and verve that is infectious. Mallika begins telling me about their Urban Ultra Poor Program (UUPP) and suddenly their focuses, sentiments and passions merge seamlessly. “There are enough NGO’s and government initiatives that target the rural poor, but what about the urban poor? The migrant laborers who live in slums that we turn a blind eye to as we drive through our cities” says Mallika. Elaine adds “These women, the ones we classify as the ‘ultra poor’ have to deal with much more than their rural counterparts. The city provides gambling and easy access to liquor to the husbands. Municipal representatives and the law harass them and their ‘homes’ which is often not more than a few concrete bricks and a blue tarp are displaced every time the land their slum is on comes under litigation.”
“We had to find a solution to what could be done to help these women and their families that goes just beyond the financial hurdle. That’s how the Urban Ultra Poor Program was born. It’s a tailored one, we operate in just eight slums across Bangalore and are currently helping around 470 families, but right now, this narrowness help us to be deeply focused” says Elaine. The UUPP is dedicated to the four areas of : employment opportunities, ﬁnancial literacy, health and childcare. “These four things are linked and only once we tackle all of them will there be any hope of breaking the cycle of poverty” adds Mallika.
The Ghosh mother-daughter team are an inspiring example of women coming together to work for change. Their direct impact on the lives of women who live their lives below the poverty line is inherent to the power of 49.
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