Saturday, 11th February 2017,
Chinmaya Mission, Lodi Road
11 am – 6.00 pm

We love Melas. Who doesn’t? It’s always exciting to meet sharp entrepreneurs from different walks of life, learn about their initiatives, and participate in their success. This Mela too, was created for all those reasons, but, this one had one more reason. It had a higher purpose.

It brought to the fore those, whose commitment to social causes is deserving of attention. The ELSA NGO MELA platform was created for ELSA-supported NGOs who are driving social change in their communities and giving wings to the dreams of many who would otherwise, not have a chance.

The ELSA NGO Mela with about 50 NGOs participating was a wonderful fillip, to help facilitate the sustaining of the livelihoods of the people working in these NGOs.

Held at the Chinmaya Mission, Delhi on 11th Feb on a bright Saturday morning, the Mela was inaugurated with the LSR classical music society singing Vedic shlokas on stage, and the lamp being lit by Arun Bharat Ram, Chairperson, Governing Board, LSR; Nadir Patel, High Commissioner of Canada; Dr. Sharma, Principal, LSR and Dr. Gopinath, former Principal, LSR.

The Speaker’s Corner began with Laila Tyabji from Dastkar, who was conferred the Padma Shri in 2012 for her commitment to reviving India’s crafts, sharing her experience of holding various Dastkar projects over the years, their work in skill development, collaborative design innovation and product development with over 350 craftsgroups.

Lady Kishwar Desai spoke of a project close to her heart – The Partition Museum in Amritsar, a memorial dedicated to the largest mass migration in history during Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.

NGOs working across sectors – the Naz Foundation for HIV/AIDS, Wildlife SOS for animal welfare, Oxfam for dignity and equality, LILY Foundation and Prayas Welfare Society for education of the under-privileged, Kriti and Rangsutra for showcasing the rich expertise of artisans from the communities they work with, WISCOMP in building a continuum of peace, Gulmeher for the wastepickers community, Zubaan, Ruwab Sewa and SMS for empowering women, the Indian Cancer Society caring for people with cancer, the Score Foundation for the blind, the Orkids Foundation, Jan Madhyam, Delhi Welfare Society for disability, Karm Marg for inclusion were among many others who worked in legal advocacy, drug-rehabilitation, environment and women’s safety. Each raised awareness of the causes they are committed to, their successes and their challenges.

A sharp16-year-old, Hritik shared his social enterprise called the Padho Movement which he began for supplemental reading for under-privileged children. A reminder that to start a good cause, age and status don’t count. Just heart.

One of the highlights was the rousing fund-raising auction of the creations of Rajesh Pratap Singh, Loom Tree, Basic Design and Meraki, the proceeds of which were donated to the NGO of the bidder’s choice. With the crowd cheering each other on to bid higher for the creations, the auction succeeded in its purpose – raising funds for the NGOs.

On the stage, the school children of Vidya performed ‘Shades - Women Rising’, an intense and moving dance performance, displaying without a doubt that children from poorer sections of society are as rich in spirit as other children, sometimes, maybe more. The hunger in their souls is palpable. And, contagious to the rest of us who take our privileges for granted.

TARSHI, an NGO promoting freedom and agency over one’s sexual choices performed stirring songs, while the Azad Foundation super charged the crowd with a Flash mob, an all girl troupe who did a powerful dance to end violence.

The exchange of ideas among the NGOs, each addressing pressing needs of society, discussing and debating the need to influence policy, the coming together of the ebullient spirit of the ELSA volunteers from around the country, the generous contributions to the auction, the soulful food from Elemental and Suju’z Kitchen – the workshops on pottery, kite-making and tarot-reading adding colour and delight to the Mela – all in all, it was what simple goodness looks and feels like. With numerous requests from the participating NGOs to turn it into an annual event, ELSA is considering slotting it in the LSA Calender, 2018.

The ELSA-NGO Mela was a part of the global ELSA Movement for giving back, and creating an equitable world by engaging leaders for social responsibility; their motto being, 'ELSAs Stronger Together'. .

List of Participants

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