Yein Udaan - A NGO that is making learning holistic for underprivileged communities
Lack of quality education and a conducive environment both at home and outside is one of the major problems faced by the underprivileged in India. While there are various NGOs and support groups that aim to educate children, there are very few NGOs like Yein Udaan, which focuses on not just providing children with academic and extra-curricular training but also helping their families in developing skills and enhancing their learning. They believe that the standards of living can be sustainably improved when all stakeholders in the home are empowered equally.
“Yein Udaan” is an amalgamation of two words from Tamil & Hindi - Yein which means “my” or “mine” in Tamil and Udaan which means - “Flight” or “Take-off”, translating to “My take-off.” The name has an influence of the culture of their impact groups in South India and the Founder - Vedika Agarwal’s cultural roots from North India.
At Yein Udaan, they aim to work on building and enhancing the holistic development of underprivileged children by providing them with both academic and extra-curricular training. They believe that building a skill-set that is independent of academic features will help children grow into confident and self-aware individuals. They not just work with the enrolled students but also their parents as they believe that the impact will be sustainable only if parents are involved in their child’s learning and progress. They run post-school learning centres or learning labs where the student gets individual care and is encouraged to not just be academically strong but also improve other skills that will enhance their overall development. The kids come from underprivileged backgrounds where they witness a whole lot of issues and abuse at home.
Yein Udaan establishes community centres or “Launchpads” in low-income areas to help residents have a safe and judgement-free space to access endless learning opportunities. They work with children, adolescents, college students, young women and mothers who reside in these areas. They rent a space in low-income communities and provide sessions such as English language learning, counselling, dance and art classes and workshops, and health-based sessions.
They follow a three-fold approach. First, they enrol only those students whose parents are willing to commit to the minimum monthly time requirement for engagement at the centres. Once they have enrolled the impact families, they run four programs for the children – academic and English language, value education, life and soft skills, and extra-curricular, while simultaneously conducting sessions to build parents’ engagement skills in their child’s education. Finally, in order to successfully implement the programs, they form partnerships with experts in their fields, to ensure the impact families have access to high-quality learning.
Its mission is to create self-sustaining learning spaces to meet the vision of learning-engaged community members.
About the Founder
Yein Udaan was founded by Vedika Agarwal, a Teach For India fellow, in 2017 as she saw a lot of gaps in society when it comes to accessing quality education. Vedika has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the World #1 UCL Institute of Education, UK and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. While in college, Vedika volunteered as a teacher to pre-teen girls who scaled fish at the docks every day to support their families. This experience moved her to apply for a Fellowship, wherein she taught 40 children from grades 2 to 5 in a public school in Chennai. After her Fellowship, Vedika Founded an NGO, ‘Yein Udaan’ to continue bridging the gap in society by generating access to learning opportunities in marginalised communities. She also serves as the School Coordinator at SVA School for Girls, a free school for 210 girls in a small village in Southern India. Vedika is a Commonwealth Awardee, who has won several accolades nationally and whose work has been published globally on CNN, Thomson Reuters, The Hindu and many more.
- Community Engagement
At Yein Udaan, they believe that their work doesn’t stop at the learning centres. In order to create a conducive environment for every family in the community, they conduct community engagement drives every four months. These drives enable their member families to spread awareness on sustainable and healthy living habits such as health, hygiene and sanitation. Through the drives, they are able to extend their support to every resident in the community by going to their doorstep.
- Holistic Learning
At their lab schools, children engage in four programs each day. They are – English language, academic tutoring, extra-curricular activities and life skills development. Their school not only provides such alternative learning opportunities for children to explore their talents but also keeps them safe in the community until their parents return home from work at night. Children also have access to a nutritious meal at the lab school, fostering their health and wellbeing.
- English Pesallam Vaanga (Let’s Speak English)
Having worked for a few years at the grassroots, they have repeatedly come across people’s desire to master spoken English. To empower them, they partner with Community Radio stations and deliver spoken English lessons every day. The lessons are designed to equip listeners with commonplace conversations which they can practice and perfect in their home or workplace. To make learning purposeful and sustainable, they create content for conversations that are simple, often used and contextual.
- Annual Production
Every year, the children at Yein Udaan have the opportunity to showcase their talents and learnings on a prestigious stage through a theatrical performance. They work with a team of expert artists from theatre, dance, art and music for six months to create their annual show. This platform also gives the children an opportunity to deep-dive into social themes and spread awareness amongst the audience. The themes which have been explored over the years include alcoholism, domestic violence, climate change, and child rights.
- Penn Power (Woman Power)
‘Penn’ in Tamil means woman. In this initiative, they provide marginalised ladies learning opportunities to improve their skills level, employability, confidence and mental health. Women develop skills to make products to earn an income and represent their work and community in renowned pop-ups which boosts their morale. They also partner with professional counsellors who empower these women by breaking taboos around mental health and wellbeing and systematically focusing on meeting their mental health needs.
- My Appa, Yein Hero (My Dad, My Hero)
In India, the onus of parenting often rests on the mother. Fathers are perceived as the breadwinners who play a minimal role in childcare. However, they have met several fathers who are playing an active role in their child’s learning and growth and are seeking support to strengthen this role. To bridge this gap and change traditional mindsets, they run support groups for fathers where we provide them with tools and resources to build healthy relationships with their children and family, further creating a stable home environment.
Apart from these initiatives, they have also worked towards providing care and much-needed help to the underprivileged and marginalized communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- How Can You Contribute?
At Yein Udaan, you can make a difference by either being a part of their team by being a volunteer or interning with them. You can also partner with them to provide some service that would benefit the children as well as be a host for their events. They also have a small online shop set up where you can buy sustainable goods made by the women of these marginalized communities. You can donate to help the NGO and the families associated with them. They use 6.38 % on admin expenses and 93.62 % on program costs when one donates. You can check out their website and donate right there.