Nexus of Good: An out-of-the-box initiative

The novel, unique initiative towards ensuring overall care of deprived children through General Healthcare and Child Welfare Fund in Moradabad has shown great promise

Nexus of Good: An out-of-the-box initiative

This initiative by Aujenya Kumar Singh, Divisional Commissioner, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, is a unique one and holds a lot of promise. A General Healthcare and Child Welfare Fund has been established, and is now extended to all the five districts of Moradabad Division under the auspices of General Healthcare and Child Welfare Society, Moradabad. The Society was founded in February 2022 under the chairmanship of Divisional Commissioner, Moradabad, with all the senior officers, including District Magistrates of the Division/Districts, as its members. The basic purpose of the Society and fund was to help deprived people in emergency in general, and ensure overall care and protection for deprived children who are not covered under any government scheme in particular. Healthcare is one of the most important aims of the Society for which all reputed hospitals of Moradabad are empanelled, and referral hospitals are roped in based on the condition of the patient and requirements of the situation. But the prominent aim of the Society is to protect and care for all the deprived children in every required field, be it education, health, nutrition, or rehabilitation.

The underlying idea of the fund originated in Rampur in 2020 where Aujenya was positioned as the District Magistrate in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic. It was on July 16, 2020 when a few children were found selling balloons on the street in the evening. Conversation with them revealed that they were engulfed by myriad family problems — poverty, parents or the sole livelihood earner had either expired or been struck by serious illness and they were out on the streets to supplement the livelihood of their families. Balloons were bought but that was not a worthy solution. The issue was discussed with the core team of officers. Nivedita, Assistant Savings Officer, who was handling the ICCC and the Official Social Media of the District, came up with the idea to establish a system through which “needy children” could be helped immediately without going through a lengthy process. Thus originated the idea of developing a fund that would look after and protect the children in need.

The District Child Care and Protection Fund was to be established by collecting money from voluntary contributions. Charity begins at home. The District Magistrate and his wife were the first to donate. Administrative officers and employees also contributed their share. According to the 2011 census, the population of Rampur was more than 23 lakhs. If every individual donated a rupee per month in the fund, it would be receiving more than Rs 23 lakh per month. The fund was open to receiving even a rupee as donation.

To encourage people to contribute, each donor was felicitated with a ‘congratulatory note’ signed by the District Magistrate. Intensive campaign was launched on social media to collect donations for the fund. People who donated for the fund were celebrated on social media. To win over the trust of the people, stories of children who were helped by appropriating money from the fund were posted on social media. Slowly and steadily, people joined the caravan. By January 2021, the fund had collected a corpus of more than 28 lakh rupees. A WhatsApp number was also released where people could inform about the children who needed help and support.

Multiple kinds of help were extended to children — a seven years old boy Devansh had fallen from roof and broken his right hand, Nimisha was suffering from neurological issues since birth, five-year-old Abhay had cancer and needed chemotherapy, ten-year-old Sonakshi had blood clot in her head and needed to be operated, ten-month-old Pankhuri had suffered head injury and many more (names of children have been changed).

On February 15, 2021, an initiative was launched to address malnutrition in children – ‘Aahaar se Upchaar’. The idea was to have ‘Poshan Kits’ prepared in collaboration with the Rampur Farmer Producer Organisation to treat the malnourished children through proper nutritious diet. The Child Care & Protection Fund was to function as the funding institution. On the launch date, ‘Poshan kits’ were provided to 24 identified malnourished children. Since then, the Aahaar se Upchaar initiative has written its own tale of success. Till date, 857 malnourished children have been treated under this initiative, and it has been shortlisted for Prime Minister’s Award.

In March 2021, Aujenya was promoted and posted as Divisional Commissioner, Moradabad. He decided to replicate and scale the good practice. After extensive discussions, a decision was taken to provide statutory status to the fund. Thus, a society in the name of General Healthcare & Child Welfare Society was established at the division level. Sub committees were established in all the five districts of the division under the chairmanship of respective District Magistrates. The objective was to replicate the original District Child Care and Protection Fund in every district of Moradabad Division, with Divisional fund serving as the backbone of the system. Same measures were adopted to encourage people to contribute to the divisional fund. The results were overwhelming.

Soon, the General Healthcare and Child Welfare Fund embarked upon its journey to support and take care of children. It adopted a wider approach. By November 2022, the fund had accumulated a corpus of more than Rs 15 lakh. Enough fund is available to support “children in need” and “people in emergency” now.

A procedure has been adopted for contribution, its maintenance and expenditure. Any contribution can be done directly to the account or through cheque. No cash is accepted. Expenditure is done directly for the purpose. No amount is handed over to the beneficiary. An inquiry is conducted to verify the ‘need’. However, in case of emergency, help is provided immediately and inquiry is made thereafter by the concerned authority. Regular monthly meetings of the Society are conducted right after division-level review meetings. Provision of proper record keeping and auditing is also there. Decisions are taken at Divisional Commissioner level, and put up in monthly meetings for information and review by the members.

Many children have sought help from the fund – a girl from Sambhal needed kidney transplant, 15 children were identified in Sambhal who suffered from heart-related ailments and many more. From the very beginning, the principle of transparency has been adhered to and relevant information shared on social media about accounts and expenditure of the fund. People not only donated to the fund but connected us with children who needed help.

Meanwhile, district administration of Rampur started ‘Mission Muskan’ to treat children with cleft lip and palate and ‘Mission Samarth’ to provide prosthetics to children under auspices of the District Child Care and Protection Fund. 54 children under ‘Mission Muskan’ and 51 children under ‘Mission Samarth’ have been treated till date. Besides, more than 200 children have been treated for other serious diseases and many are supported for education in Rampur. The district fund has spent more than Rs 73 lakh till date for these purposes.

From the division-level fund, more than 30 children and 11 adults have been treated for serious illnesses or in case of emergency health issues. Many others are supported for education or livelihood. Till date, more than Rs 20 lakh have been spent from the division-level fund. In case any of the districts lack funds in an emergency, required funds are provided from the divisional fund.

A beginning seems to have been made and has enormous potential for replication and scaling in the true spirit of Nexus of Good. Aujenya and his team deserve to be commended for this initiative.

Views expressed are personal

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