A social media campaign promoting the welfare of underprivileged children in Rajasthan’s Udaipur district has completed one year of spreading awareness on vital issues such as nutrition, health and education.

Titled Khushi (happiness), it has made its presence felt through a blog and on the Facebook platform. The blog uploads success stories of people who have come forward and made a difference to the lives of marginalised children. The Facebook platform discusses issues relating to their education, nutrition and health.

Conceived as a campaign that connects people who think similarly, it searches for individuals genuinely concerned with development and growth of the country and willing to put that extra bit to either churn out new strategies or bring the cause to the notice of common people and policy makers.

Though the campaign started with only seven people, it has now crossed the figure of 25,000 members, while the blog is touching 58,000 page views. People from different professions like professors, teachers, students, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, management graduates, journalists, social workers, writers, development practitioners, etc., are part of the Khushi group and taking the campaign forward.

Pavan Kaushik of Udaipur-based Vedanta Resources who carved the campaign says it is a non-funding drive that encourages people to come forward and understand the problem and take individual steps for probable solutions. “We even decided to develop the blog and maintain and operate it in-house. Many members have come forward with donations but Khushi encourages them to take direct steps. This has brought a sense of belonging towards the campaign.”

After one year of operation, the first change that Khushi feels it has been able to cultivate is that of people’s temperament towards the deprived children. The thoughtful online discussions and debates on education and infrastructure development in rural schools, nutrition and education for street children, problem of children involved in making crackers, increasing drop-out rate in rural schools, teachers’ problem, the menace of begging, child labour, vocational training, among others, have brought forth ideas on how as individuals we are capable of addressing these problems and working towards solutions.

Post launch of the campaign, many members went ahead and took some strong decisions. Some of them now sponsor education of children of their domestic helps, some have employed parents of children who beg on the streets or near traffic-lights, some have gone ahead for adoption, some are providing education to the street children on a regular basis, some are engaged in organising creative workshops for them and some others are collectively taking extra classes in rural schools.

Slowly and steadily, the campaign is gaining momentum. To understand the problems relating to street children, Khushi team spent two days with them in the Malla Talai locality of Udaipur. It has also organised a workshop for them and held a painting competition. Here over 125 children between the age of one and 13 years attended, some along with their parents and listened to the Khushi team’s talk on health and hygiene.

The campaign won the Rotary Community Service Award this year, and Arjuna Award winner athlete Krishna Poonia also joined the campaign with the resolve to take the issue forward.

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