Realising the potential of children, Lotus Petal Foundation is on the forefront to provide skill-based education
April 18, 2022, 12:20 p.m.
By: Reshma Jain
Saloni Raj was raised by a single mother, who worked as a house maid and a cook in various homes around the Badshahpur slums in Gurgaon, Haryana. Saloni started her schooling at the age of 10 in class nursery. She came to the Pratishthan Learning Center, run by Lotus Petal Foundation, in 2013 at the age of 14 with the dream of becoming a doctor.
Life during the years at school was beautiful and rewarding yet interlaced with the harsh realities of her personal life. Day was spent learning English and preparing for becoming a doctor while the evenings were dedicated towards ways and means to earn a living. A babysitter, a house help during the weekends and all hours after school, took precedence. Sharing a small room in the slums with her mother and two brothers with little time and place to study did not deter this young girl.
Saloni’s focus and determination towards her dream never wavered in the most challenging and gruesome circumstances. A humble, bright and confident student, Lotus Petal left no stone unturned to provide support to Saloni’s dreams. She was sent to the best coaching institutes for her to gain maximum knowledge and all support towards form filling, travel to various centres and even guidance towards counselling was extended to Saloni. All monetary expenses towards fulfilling her dream were eagerly borne by Lotus Petal Foundation. And the best part? Saloni Raj, 20 years of age, had cleared the NEET Entrance of 2019 and had secured a seat in the 5 year - Bachelor of Dental Sciences in JCD Dental College, Sirsa based on her merit. Her entire education and support towards this has been channelled through donations from various corporates and individuals in India and across the world to Lotus Petal Foundation.
Her story is nothing short of a miracle and indemnifies our belief in the goodness of mankind, where there are individuals and organizations that are always looking for ways to support those who are in need. Such is the impact of humankind on the needy. Like Saloni, the lives of many other children have been transformed for good.
Lotus Petal Foundation was started by an IIM graduate, Kushal Raj Chakravorty in 2011. Kushal has had an illustrious corporate career. His immaculate learning years were supported by an engineering degree from BIT Mesra and strengthened by an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Kushal managed the regional supply operations, sourcing and contract manufacturing for Amway India for 5+ years. His professional life catapulted with his stint with IKEA that lasted over a decade. Kushal led different global roles in the furniture, textile and carpets and travelled across continents for work. His professional life and travels exposed him to regions within India and overseas that were stuck in acute poverty.
The contrast and disparity of life that he was leading and what he was witnessing burdened him through the years. In 2011, Kushal established the Lotus Petal Foundation from his own savings. He envisioned that the trust would enable people and non-profits to promote their work- Kushal actively participated in this sharing his finances and solving situations with his judicious insight. Soon he felt he wished to develop educational models that would help children of various age groups to be a part of a formal skill-based education system. He started the two schools integrated with nutrition, healthcare, and skill development. Alumni from Lotus Petal are now working in the formal sector, some in MNCs and also pursuing higher professional education.
They run two schools and a healthcare program in the urban slums of Gurgaon, Haryana, India. The programs; Vidyananda School, Pratishthan Learning Center and Aarogya Wellness all operate from their Gurgaon campus. The Pratishthan Learning Center, a skilling and vocational training institute is combined with a fast-track schooling system that helps children to complete their grade 6 to 10 in 3 years and then enrols them in senior secondary with vocational training options.
Students in Pratishthan are enrolled at an age of 12 to 14 and all of them have fractured education or have studied in classes lower than their age. Students are trained in computers, languages, personality development and have a vocational or professional skill in hand once they finish the program.
Lotus Petal is now an established educational institution with over 1200+ children and 100+ staff members. To manage and lead the organization, Kushal hung his boots in the corporate sector in 2016 to be fully immersed in the calling of this life journey. He also serves on the Board of Directors of IIM Amritsar.
Kushal Raj, the Founder and Managing Trustee of Lotus Petal Foundation said, “As an organization, we are committed to nurture children and young adults living in the urban slums of Gurgaon towards a life of dignity by imparting education and skill-based livelihood options."
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