I play a multiple role within my organization. But basically I can categorize these roles into four broad heads – Mentor, Team Leader, Planner and Administrator. Since we believe that ours is a company in social sector and for that Prayasam works 24 x 7 set up.
As Prayasam builds the capacity of low-income group areas and migrant communities across West Bengal, India, it also invests significant efforts in building the capacity of its own staff. Mentoring plays an influential role in this young organization, which has seen Fellows/Interns from reputable institutions of the likes of Symbiosis, ICFAI, Rhodes College and the American India Foundation in the past year alone. These young professionals bring fresh thinking and vision to Prayasam. The knowledge flow is two-way. Prayasam serves as a learning platform for these temporary visitors, offering unique exposure to the field and an opportunity to put classroom learning to real life practice.
I founded Prayasam, a child rights NGO based in Salt Lake, Kolkata, 14 years ago. After receiving my formal training as a lawyer, I found myself disheartened with the legal system’s limitations in providing services to the underprivileged of Kolkata. In 1999, I registered Prayasam with a few friends with two simple intentions: to enable children of all backgrounds to participate in decisions affecting their lives, and to inform Calcuttans of issues facing their city. What began as a modest project has turned into a large-scale, collective endeavour. Prayasam today serves over 10,000 child and adult constituents from mainstream, slum, migrant and street backgrounds, and employs 30 full and part time staff members. Recognizing the inherent leadership potential of youth, we empower our child workshop participants to become “Area Health Minders” and lead small-scale social action projects to improve their neighbourhoods. These undertakings might be as simple as spreading awareness on disease or cleaning public areas of trash, however, they are led by the children themselves.
I design and do the micro level planning of the organisation’s branding events for my Communication team. Which also helps my organization in terms of resource as well as fund mobilization and networking with other organizations and individuals. I’m a self taught painter so for my documentation team I put my creative energy to do the lay out designs to their well documented reports. I facilitate on a regular basis in in-house workshops (specially to my HR Sector) as well as for external agencies, like Government, Overseas and for other local and national NGOs. Topics covered from Gender, Life Skill to different communication media. Prayasam continues to introduce its peer education and child empowerment concepts to impoverished sectors of society. Notably, Prayasam is working with the West Bengal government to uplift brick kiln migrant worker communities – the first such collaboration between government and NGO in India – through its signature “Multiple Activity Centres.” In addition to my work in West Bengal, I facilitate leadership, soft skills and gender trainings across India, most recently with World Vision India and the Xavier Institute of Social Sciences in Bangalore, India. I do a lot of choreography (fusion dancing) workshops for our adolescent constituents and basically it acts like a therapy for them. Apart from this I have to plan the Life Skill course modules for the colleagues, youth and children I work with.
Planning for the constituents whom we guide takes 60% of my total time. As a Founder Director I have to listen to all my Sectoral Heads’ suggestions towards better functioning of our Project areas and also try to give them useful tips to carry out their work. Whenever, I am in town I have to preside over the weekly planning labs that are being organized by the Heads of different Sectors, As a planner my first aim is to converge our activities in our target areas with the Government schemes. So, that there is systematic integration. And for this I have to do a lot of study and research. The Government schemes have to be read and points have to be gleaned out and then that has to be disseminated to the respective Sectoral Heads to keep his / her direction / focus of the work steady and for organic convergence. I have to plan for the both long and short term strategies and sit with my Finance Coordinator to see that we don’t become too ambitious and jeopardize the entire system. I am responsible to do the twice a year participatory appraisal of our ongoing activities as well as the performance of the personnel who are handling these activities and then devise strategy and actions for the future. Coordination of the entire activities and amongst all our personnel and constituents and specially coordinating my timings with my entire team has to be taken care of. I also allocate time to promote understanding, support and goodwill of our mission and objectives. This includes in-house as well as reaching out to outside audience.
On a regular basis apart from the above mentioned activities (not all on the same day certainly) I have to meet my mentees both from the fields as well as from the office. Kind of supervising their work, meeting our volunteers / visitors / donors for different purposes. Writing innovative concept notes for events, projects and storing them into our Idea bank. Regular correspondence to our well wishers, interns who work online, visiting my project areas on weekly basis. When you work with such a large team skirmishes bound to happen, so sometimes I have to work as a mediator and sometimes as a deciding factor. On regular intervals I change the décor of my office and whoever comes to our Prayasam loves its vibrance and warmth. Twice a month organizing Life Style sessions for the Adolescent Youth groups. I am heavily dependent on commercial movies which keeping coming as a reference point in all my discussions so everyday I watch a movie and take notes from it and apply them at suitable time and moment.