GMR Varalakshmi Foundation started its activities in Bangalore in 2007. The major thrust areas of intervention are education, empowerment and employee involvement.
GMRVF in partnership with the Department of Education, Government of Karnataka is running 15 ‘tent schools’ with a reach to approximately 700 children. Tent Schools are temporary schools which cater to the children of migrant labourers. These schools provide bridge education to out-of-school children and then mainstream them into formal education in a systematic manner. Along with educational inputs, there is active focus on imparting life skills and health care inputs to the children. Foundation follows the Nalli Kali curriculum which is based on the concept of joyful learning, self-learning and speed learning.
Foundation’s inputs to the tent school program include setting up of the tent schools and day-to-day management, provision of teachers and helpers, provision of safe drinking water and nutrition supplement, regular health check-ups, awareness sessions on education, health, hygiene, capacity building for teachers etc. Exposure trips are also organized for children with active support from the GMR corporate employees.
The support of Dept. of Education, Govt. of Karnataka is crucial in making tent schools an effective program. It includes, full time or part time govt. school teachers who are deputed to the tent schools from the nearest Govt. Schools, mid-day meal provision through the ‘Akshaya Patra’ program, provision for snacks, training for the teachers, part salary for the helper, etc.
Foundation also engages in need based support to the 15 govt. schools, which are nearest to the tent schools. This ensures good synergy between the government schools and tent schools. The support to Govt. schools includes supply of stationery, library books, renovation of toilet facilities, contributions such as water filter, computers, etc. Besides this, a range of awareness programs on education, health, socially relevant days, etc are organized in the Govt. schools. GMR employee volunteers play a notable role in the support extended to theses govt. schools.
Health, Hygiene and Sanitation
Programmes with focus on health, hygiene, sanitation and community participation are going on in 15 migrant labour communities where the tent schools are located. The activities include regular medical camps and awareness events covering a variety of topics such as hand washing, importance of clean drinking water, hazards of smoking and alcoholism, nutrition and personal hygiene, HIV/AIDS, etc. About 1000 families are reached out through these programs.
Empowerment and Livelihoods
GMR Varalakshmi Centre for Empowerment and Livelihoods (GMRVCEL-B)
Foundation started its vocational training centre in Bangalore in October 2009. The Centre aims to impart quality skill training along with life skill inputs to drop out youths from vulnerable families in and around Bangalore. It has a capacity to train 100 youth at a time and approximately 400 youth are trained every year at the centre. After training, focus is given on facilitating suitable job placements for the trainees and to do the placement follow-up. Currently there are four training programs going on at GMRVCEL-B. They are Basic computer; Electrical training (in partnership with Schneider Electric); Refrigeration & Air conditioning (in partnership with Voltas); and Industrial tailoring. The eligible trainees are identified with the help of NGOs engaged in community work. Besides the technical training, the trainees are imparted with soft skills, spoken English, and yoga and meditation training. The trainees are also exposed to real work situations through structured field visits. GMR employees also volunteer in providing orientation to trainees on relevant issues such as fire safety, HIV/AIDS, etc.
In Bangalore, employee involvement has taken robust shape. On the one hand, there are a number of awareness building programs on social responsibility/volunteering in which GMR employees across the departments participate. These awareness programs essentially involve orientation talks and deliberations on social responsibility/social issues as well as visits to NGOs.
As far as the actual volunteering by employees is concerned, the focus is on connecting interested employees with Foundation programs or service organizations. Employee Groups support tent schools – contributions for school uniforms, stationery, sports material, library books, educational toys, exposure visits for children, etc. Employees also contribute time and resources at CEL B to add value to the youth empowerment programme by way of library books, awareness classes, placement support, etc. Besides the Foundation work, a large number of employees are engaged in assisting NGOs through volunteering, donations, etc.
Spouses of some of the employees at Bangalore have formed ‘Seva Kitty Groups’ and are taking up various innovative community development programs. The activities taken up by these Seva Kitty Groups include conducting mock interviews for under-privileged unemployed youth at Bangalore, conducting health camps and blood donation camps, organizing summer camps for children, awareness campaigns on various social issues etc.
In 2010, a total of 978 employee volunteers spent approximately 1600 man hours in social volunteering (excluding the preparatory, travel time, etc). In 2011, the focus is on enabling employees to take up long-term or sustainable social action projects instead of occasional volunteering.