Author: Usha Bhende

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Need a Hair Cut? How about Donating Hair for a Cause.

Locks of Love is a non-profit that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children and young adults suffering from long-term medical hair loss. These are high quality wigs made from hair donations made by individuals. When Locks of Love first began, it was connected with a for-profit wig retailer. In December 1997, the organization obtained its 501(c)(3) certification and separated from the for-profit retailer. Locks of Love now produce the highest quality hair prosthetics that are given to children who have lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy, recuperating from scalp burns or undergoing other medical treatment resulting in hair loss. In addition to the physical challenges of medical treatment, children also need to overcome low self-esteem from hair loss. Wearing a hairpiece is not a cure for children, but it helps restore some of their lost self-esteem and helps them to regain normalcy within their everyday lives. Normally, the retail cost of hair pieces is anywhere between $3,500 and $6,000. The wigs produced by Locks of Love are provided either completely free of charge, …

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PluggedIn : Teen Bands Creating Change Through Music

PluggedIn is a non-profit organization that teaches teenagers how to be in a rock band. And at the same time, use their music to make a positive change within society. Performing in a band allows teenage musicians to be creative, make friends, grow musically and have fun. The bands perform concerts to raise money for charity. PluggedIn started in Needham Massachusetts, as a resource place for teenagers to come together as a band. Starting with 5 students in 1 band in 2002, PluggedIn now consists of 90 students in 25 bands, and has helped raise thousands of dollars for charities all over the world. Music for a Cause At the beginning of each program, PluggedIn students get together at an event called “Charity Night” and present to each other charitable organizations and causes that are important to them. Students explain how they learned about the cause, what needs are met by the charity and why they feel it is important to support them. At the end of the evening, students vote to choose the charity …

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IPaidABribe : Anonymously Report all Bribes You Pay

IPaidABribe.com (IPAB) is an initiative to tackle corruption in India – a country currently ranked as 70th on the list of the least corrupt countries in the world. For the first time ever, India now has a web platform where people can report corruption incidents and bribes they’ve paid. This data is used to analyze corruption trends, lobby government bodies into taking action against officials, or change procedures encouraging corruption within government departments. The data also helps to determine which government services are most corruption prone. Reporting Corruption made Easy On the IPAB website, you can register old and recent bribes paid. Users can report the nature, location, frequency and amounts of bribes paid or demanded. By sourcing bribe reports from millions of Indians on the website, Janagraaha, the organization behind the initiative, is able to map bribes occurring across cities. In order to report an incident, citizens are encouraged to visit the IPAB website and complete an online form. All reports are collected anonymously. IPAB does not store the name or contact details of …

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Culture Aangan Homestays : Promoting Rural Development via Tourism

Culture Aangan makes use of Cultural Tourism to create a sustainable livelihood for rural communities. Visitors to Culture Aangan home stay’s get a great, first hand look at village life in a rural setting. Rural communities are benefited from promoting cultural tourism by creation of economic opportunities that previously did not exist. Aangan, literally means “courtyard”. An Aangan has always been central to the life of a village family, as a space to meet, perform ceremonies, dry food and bond as a family. Culture Aangan adopts this concept to provide visitors with a first hand experience into rural life, yet ensuring that basic traveler comforts are met. The beginnings In May 2005, Culture Aangan founder, Rashmi Sawant began work on a project with the goal to connect city dwellers with life in the villages of rural India. The experience involved staying with a rural family and getting to know a way of life that is vastly different from city lifestyles. At the same time, travelers made a contribution to the local economy of the village. …

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CNN Hero: An Interview with Narayanan Krishnan

Narayanan Krishnan – This year marks CNN’s fourth annual global search for everyday individuals whose efforts are changing the world. The finalists for the CNN Heroes 2010 were announced on September 23rd 2010. Dutiee.com reporter Usha Bhende caught up with CNN Hero finalist Narayanan Krishnan. The transcript of the interview is below. Krishnan’s story is quite amazing. Usha: Krishnan, when did the idea of feeding the homeless and hungry occur to you? Krishnan: It was in 2002 when I was visiting my parents in Madurai, India. This was just before leaving for Switzerland for a job as chef in a Five Star restaurant. Usha: Why did you opt to quit your job and feed homeless people? Krishnan: On my visit home, I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food. This really hurt me. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this was my calling and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Usha: How did you start? Krishnan: I …

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Mirakle Couriers : A Courier Service Run by the Deaf

Mirakle Couriers is a courier delivery company with a difference. They employ underprivileged deaf people who have almost no other means to earn a livelihood. Why start a company employing deaf people? India has one of the highest deaf populations in the world. NGO’s and charities try to help individuals marginalized by society, but they rely on gift funding, which often dries up and is not sustainable. People with disabilities are discriminated against as businesses are reluctant to employ them. The disabled are largely seen as a liability; incapable and impossible to train. The situation is worse for the deaf since businesses lack sign language skills necessary to work with them. As a result there are virtually no job opportunities for the deaf in India. How Mirakle does it: Mirakle Couriers wants to change the situation and economically empower the deaf community. At the same time, they want to provide them with better visibility in the Indian society and bring attention to their cause. Mirakle was started by Dhruv Lakra a former investment banker, who …

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Fairtrade to Reduce Migrations from Himalayas

A DNA India report recently warned that mass migration from rural to urban India would put immense pressure on urban infrastructure, leading to riots, price wars and other bad stuff. However all is not lost. Social ventures such as Himjoli are attempting to prevent that from happening. ‘Friends in the Land of Ice’ Himjoli was founded in 2009. They are a profitable social enterprise working with rural producers from the Kumaon region in the Indian Himalayas. Their mission: To create profitable, sustainable jobs in villages and reduce migration to cities. The rural communities of Kumaon traditionally produced enough for local consumption. Excess produce was sold in the local markets, where margins are small. Alternate sources of income have been tourism, usually providing seasonal earnings. Rising prices for essential commodities led to large scale migrations from villages in to cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, in the hope of finding work to make better wages and to support the families back home. The exodus naturally results in reduced development of local populations, and no improvement in …