In the 70s, Rippan Kapur, a young airline purser, nursed a dream of protecting the rights of every Indian child. Speaking to Shiphony Pavithran Suri, the CEO of CRY, Puja Marwaha reveals how that dream is being fulfilled.
Q. How will you perceive the growth of NGO sector in India?
A. NGOs have evolved from delivering programmes to being engines of advocacy and representing the voices of the poor communities they serve. As their roles evolved, the environment has also transformed. Today in India we recognize that resolving the complex issues that the country faces requires a multi-stakeholder approach involving the government, NGOs, other civil society members and corporations.
Q. What has been CRY’s biggest achievement so far?
A. CRY’s biggest achievement, I would say, has been to find permanent solutions for children in need. Through our work we have discovered that we need to not just change children’s experiences but ensure that the adult communities where they live are transformed too. The permanence is also brought about by interacting with government systems, making sure that issues related to children are treated by them as one of the top priorities areas.
CRY has managed to transform the lives of over two million children by supporting more than 300 grassroots initiatives in over 13,000 communities in villages and slums across 23 states
Q. People consider NGOs as underpaid, overworked and sometimes overlooked. What are the organisational solutions to improve their status?
A. NGOs do face the issue of paucity of resources. However, my experience tells me that this makes people learn to be resourceful. They learn to make the largest possible impact with the smallest possible rupee. As a colleague of mine, once rightly said, ‘The smallest part of the remuneration I get from this job is money, the largest part is getting an opportunity to make a significant impact.’ That’s how you look at it.
Q. Is volunteering essential for those who wish to make a career in the NGO sector?
A. Previous volunteering experience is not a requisite for a career in the social sector. However, volunteering does give you an edge of know-how of the working of an NGO and on-ground experience. CRY volunteers are one of the most important assets that we have. They primarily play the role of multipliers and are instrumental in increasing our reach during our campaigns and events. Those who wish to volunteer can apply online on our website and our volunteer action team will get in touch with them.
Q. Is there any internship at CRY?
A. Yes, CRY offers internship opportunities across functions. The duration of the internship usually varies from minimum four to six weeks. The internships are without stipend, but give the applicant a unique opportunity to understand the child rights space, the work done by CRY, grass-root experience in the community and to contribute to the cause of children. Interested students can apply at the volunteer section on our website.
Q. What’s the career trajectory social workers could expect in CRY?
A. We have different functions that require talent from different backgrounds like Communications/Branding, Finance, Law, Management etc. For instance an MSW graduate will be more suited to work in the programming function; a marketing graduate will fit the bill for the Branding/Communications team. A graduate usually will join at the executive level and the salary will be at par with that of the sector standards.
Q. What’s your advice to social work aspirants?
A. A career in social work is about the passion you have to work for a cause you believe in. My advice for aspirants would be to open their world view. Acquire a degree in Liberal Arts, History, Psychology, Anthropology; increase your understanding of what makes societies tick, what makes democracy tick. Examine your inner prejudices. That will equip you to take up this career.
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