“Since you only have one life to live, do what you care about; be willing to take the risk...”

Pragyata Foundation is a Haryana based NGO, the main motive of which is educating the underprivileged. With a vision of developing a renowned society, the NGO, founded by Mamta Yadav along with a team of 7, strives to serve the society. Before the official commencement of the NGO, Mamta Yadav and her team members owned a coaching centre. Through the same, they used to give free education to those children who couldn’t afford getting tutored but had a strong desire to learn. Ever since the NGO was founded in 2015, it tried to reach out to different domains and expanded their help-chain across India. We at Social Journal got the blessed opportunity to conduct an interview with the founder Mamta Yadav herself!

Interview with Mamta Yadav:-

Q: Tell me something about Pragyata. Where is the NGO located? What purpose does it serve?
Based in Gurgaon, Haryana; Pragyata Foundation was founded in October, 2015. The organisation focuses on education and women empowerment. We, at Pragyata, try to reach out to the impoverished children and women and host various skill development programmes. We make provisions for admission of those children who cannot afford going to school. We also tutor children for free, especially those who are unable to bear the cost of tuitions.

Q: What is the reason behind naming the NGO Pragyata? What does the word signify?
Pragyata means intelligence; wisdom. And since the NGO is education based, no name suited it better.

Q: What motivated you to start an NGO?
Initially, there was no plan for starting this NGO. We have a coaching centre wherein we teach Computer and English. There were children (from a village nearby) who used to come to the centre and were desperate to learn English, but they were unable to pay the fees. Hence, we started sending trainers to those kids and thought of making a separate batch for them. As those kids were from slum areas, there were many drunkards who used to create scene there and didn’t let us teach. We were not a registered NGO then and hence we faced problems answering them. In turn, we decided to get the NGO registered and through the NGO, we initiated all our projects.

Q: How large is the team behind this NGO?
The strength of team, including the members and volunteers across India, exceeds 100.

Q: Can you tell me more about the projects that the NGO has initiated?
Currently, we have 5 self-initiated ongoing projects namely Agaaz, Jagriti, Lakshay, Say Yes to Healthy Mind and Vidya.
Project Agaaz is an education based project. As a major part of this project, we locate the poverty-stricken children (who are generally the victims of child-labour) and try to talk their parents into sending their children to school. We also provide them with coaching. Besides this, we give communication skills training to the students of government schools; we provide them with stationaries, take them for picnics, and celebrate festivals with them.
Project Lakshay is all about competitions and Olympiads. Through project Jagriti, we organise awareness campaigns. Project Vidya is about setting libraries and computer labs for children. Lastly, Say Yes to Healthy Mind is focused on mental health. We hold awareness camps across India wherein we discuss anxiety and depression, etc.

Q: Which of these projects, according to you, is the most successful- the closest to your heart?
The most successful, I think, is project Agaaz and Say Yes to Healthy Mind. What hits me hardest is the fact that even today children are denied education and are made to work. Agaaz because the entire process of finding such children and making going to school possible for them has always been such a good feeling. And, through Say Yes to Healthy Mind, we have been able to reach out to those who didn’t even know they were going through mental issues- in fact some were suicidal.

Q: Since your NGO is based on education, do you think education in foreign countries is better than that in India?
No, not really. Education all around is the same. I am saying this out of experience. I have seen many go abroad for studies. As a matter of fact, my son has also gone abroad for his education. It is really upon the children- how they study. Of course, there are some loopholes in the Indian education system. Indian education is all about scoring marks and obtaining jobs. In this competition, the children are generally unable to find creativity and become robots.

Q: What do you think is the reason behind the success of this NGO?
Diligent work and team work makes all the difference. In my team, every member has this personal desire to make this NGO work. In fact, right from the beginning, the team has been really good and cooperative. Most members have continued working for the NGO right from its commencement.

Q: You mentioned about your NGO also working towards women empowerment. What do you exactly do in this domain?
We help unemployed women become independent. We train some women; help them suitable find employment opportunities.

Q: What are some difficulties you face while working for this NGO?
I think convincing parents to send their children to school is very difficult. The children work and earn for their families. When we give them free education, the parents ask us how their child will learn if we educate them. This is exactly when we find our hands tied. The children have to stop their education, and we are unable to help it.
Q: Tell us something about the achievements of your NGO.
In the eNGO 2020 awards held on February 1, Pragyata Foundation was honoured as a finalist and was also one of the best NGos on the list. Also, there are more than 1,000 women we have successfully trained.
To view more achievements - https://pragyatafoundation.org/Appreciation.aspx

Q: Starting an NGO and maintaining one are two totally different things. What advice will you like to give to those who would like to start an NGO?
See, starting an NGO is not a big deal, but to make it work is comparatively way more difficult. Firstly, make up your mind on why exactly you are starting this NGO. Keeping the same motive in mind, go ahead with your projects. Initially, you will face a lot of difficulties and hurdles. But, don’t give up. As and when you move forward, people will recognise you and know that what you are doing is for the greater good. Handling the NGO becomes easier along with time and experience. But most importantly, never forget the reason why you started the NGO in the first place.

Q: Any words you would like to end this interview with?
There is a famous quote by Steve Jobs; the only way to be satisfied in your life is by doing the work that you truly believe in. I know it might sound clichéd, but it's true. Since you only have one life to live, do what you care about; be willing to take the risk. Unless you actually do it, you would never know the outcome of your efforts. If you don't try at all, you'd always regret not trying. Just know your goals, build a vision and believe in yourself. Things will start falling in place.

MORE ABOUT MAMTA YADAV: -

Mamta Yadav is the founder and the chairperson of a very successful NGO Pragyata Foundation. She has previously taught in Ryan International School and National Institute of Information. The woman is an inspiration to many other ambitious women out there. A part of her life has been devoted to working for a good cause. She firmly believes in the power of education and strives to do all in her power to educate the underprivileged. Among her various achievements, she has also been appreciated and felicitated by the former district general secretary (Mehrauli) Shri Jagmohan Mehlawat. “Give her wings to fly and she will conquer the world.” Mamta Yadav has contradicted this quote by proving that women already have wings. All there’s left is a motive to conquer the world!

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