By Anshul Tewari:
A childhood story and her Grandpa’s words changed her life. As a child, Neetha’s grandfather, Srinivas Shetty, would often take her on his shoulders for an evening walk. “There was a construction happening and I saw three kids with no proper clothing, passing the mud blocks. My grandpa observed me and started narrating the lives of such kids. I still remember those words he uttered, ‘We are giving you everything – proper food, proper clothing, sending to school. It is not because we care for you. It is not because we cannot see you in pain. It is because you are born with an ability to change lives and we are helping you to strengthen yourself'”. That moment built an urge in Neetha to address social issues.
For Neetha, her talent in art and crafts was never as little as a hobby. Her passion used to drive her hobby with her on every family vacation back to her village, and intrigue her peers and children with her abilities. “Whenever I used to make some crafts, I had my peers and children around me wondering if I am blessed with extra talent,” says Neetha.
While Neetha’s peers back in her village always thought that only children from urban areas could do something like this, Neetha was struck with an idea, “This is when the idea of Papillon Foundation was conceived.”. With the aim of identifying and mentoring rural talents and create an opportunity to make their lives self dependent, the Papillon Foundation’s curriculum, objective, vision and mission focus on promoting art education among rural and underprivileged children.
When asked about the loopholes in the holistic development for underprivileged children and how Papillon bridges the gap, Neetha explains, “I believe you agree with me when I say India is being admired for its richness in culture, tradition and art. Let us imagine an India without its known richness. India is dominated by villages. Rural children and youth form a majority chunk in the demography. They are the ones who will take our culture, tradition and art further ahead. We need to increase the dependency and belief of children on their passion; be it dance, music, art or theatre, and Papillon Foundation works in creating awareness about the art education and provide free education for students who are passionate about learning art and take it forward in their career.”
Papillon Foundation is currently focusing on two major projects:
Project Aakruti which mainly focuses on conducting camps, workshops and career guidance in the various schools in villages across Karnataka. The foundation identifies students for lifetime scholarship from these camps that helps them in possessing the needed training and education.
Project Srujana‘s focus is on providing free education for the scholarship students. Under this project, the foundation aims to adopt villages, schools and children to impart regular education.
Moving ahead, Papillon’s immediate plan is to establish a children home attached with an art academy and rehabilitation centre. “We have been approaching our prospective donors. We aim to achieve this goal in next one year. This will be under Project Ujjvala.” tells Neetha. “And as our primary focus, we are aiming to adopt 10 schools from 5 villages this year.” she adds.
So how has her family reacted to her initiative? “While growing up, it was my mom, Indira, who triggered the passion. She always stood along with me, inspired me and motivated me. Finally, in 2009 I caught the right path to reach my goal. Papillon Foundation!”
Know more about Papillon Foundation and how you can contribute here.