The Nudge Foundation is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to alleviate poverty in our nation through sustainable and scalable models. The/Nudge Foundation focuses on sustainable poverty alleviation by building a strong 360-degree life, learning and economic foundation for poor in residential “Gurukuls”, along with lifelong support system. The Gurukuls focus on the all-round development of individuals to equip them with life, literacy and livelihood skills.
The Gurukul program is a rigorous fully-residential program with an emphasis on extensive experiential learning through habit-building and repetition. On completion of the program, individuals are provided with lifelong support to prevent them from falling back into poverty. Nandini and Sunitha, who have successfully completed the Life Management Course from Gurukul tell us it has made a difference in their lives by instilling confidence and showing them the way forward.
Nandini, Successful candidate from Life Management Program at the Gurukul
My family has five members which includes my mother, brother, father and my daughter. My father married another lady and stays with her now. I got married at a very young age of 16 when I didn’t know any better, due to my husband’s alcoholic habits and abuse I moved back home.
I’ve come to the Gurukul to build my life. I was extremely scared on the first day, even more scared to speak english but because of the trainers support I got through it. Technology was believed to be only for the rich but I now understand it’s also for me. Before i joined the Gurukul I didn’t mingle with anyone but now I’ve gained confidence to go out and talk to people and build relationships. I grew up in a very sheltered environment where my parents didn’t let me explore the world. They even restricted me from wearing the clothes I wanted to wear. I want my daughter to have the freedom that I didn’t have and to give her the life she deserves.
I want to open my own beauty parlor after gaining experience for five years. I also plan to going back to college and finishing my degree. One defining moment at the Gurukul that changed my perspective of life as when I spoke to Jerry, he said, “You should not live for anyone, you should live for you”. I realized that I will stand on my own feet and be independent no matter what the society says. I will prove to everyone who spoke ill about me that I will succeed in life. Suchitra ma’am instills confidence in me and guides me like a mother. Staying at the Gurukul I’ve come to gain confidence and learn various aspects of life. The world is a very big place and I want my daughter and myself to experience it. She (my daughter) will study engineering and be independent. My family initially didn’t support my decision but I have challenged them, I will stand on my own two feet and nothing will stop me. I will not depend on my husband, I will only depend on myself. I will take the responsibility of taking care of my mother and brother. I never thought about my future before but now I do. I used to procrastinate and take life as it came. After coming here I now want to achieve something. I plan to build a house for my family.
Sunitha, Successful candidate from Life Management Program at the Gurukul
My family consists of five members. My father is the village secretary and my mother takes care of cattle. I’m very happy about life because my parents let me study further. They gave me all the freedom I have wanted which most parents don’t do. They encouraged me to stand on my own two feet. I’m a very emotional person. Hence, I teach everyone to be better because I feel for everyone. I want to help others by teaching them. Since 5th grade I’ve been teaching others by calling them home. I now have about 150 students. I also give my meal away to help those who need it two days a week. My parents understand and encourage my love for teaching hence I don’t do any work at home.
I love kids and hence during holidays I arrange some fun activities for them. I wanted to make the village cleaner and I started cleaning it in hopes that other would join me. Initially everyone made fun of me but later many joined me in cleaning our village. Now even when I’m not at the village they continue cleaning it. I underwent a 3 day teaching training camp. My mentor, Santosh taught me how to help handicapped children. I continue to give out rations across villages. For the older people in my village, we invite them and play games with them and perform for them. We also distribute clothes which come from the city. Once in every fifteen days I invite people to a forum where they’re allowed to express their views about anything they want. I started teaching Yoga in my village, in the beginning no one would come but eventually people started joining. Now they practice Yoga every morning. I want to give everyone an education because i realised how important it is after I was educated myself.
At home, my dad was very democratic, we used to have discussions before taking any decisions. Once we needed desks for schools and Santosh arranged for some foreign donors who visit our village to donate desks to us. We arranged an event for these special guests and they were extremely impressed. English is extremely difficult for me, being educated in a village I never learnt how to speak English. But this is my chance. One defining moment in my life was when I was a young child at a festival in my village, the Panchayat head gave extra attention to the nicely dressed children and treated the kids from a lesser background differently. I felt so much empathy for the children that I started doing everything I can to make people treat everyone equally. The head of our village used to disrespect me and not make eye contact with me. But now he gives me respect and comes to me for advice.
Before I joined Gurukul Santosh used to say he will teach the children English over Skype but I never understood what he meant by Skype until I came to Gurukul. After I go home I want to open a beauty parlor so I can give jobs to people in my village. I love helping people no matter what. I don’t need any money. My parents always told me never to dream about money, you must be self- satisfied with what you do. I was made in charge of a school in my village. But there is so much more I could learn, and my learning will benefit my students. Everyone should be kind, then everything else will come automatically. I dream of a building in my village where I would be able to teach my students, teach people dance and yoga and also a computer lab to access the internet. Because I was shown so much love I want to do the same to everyone around me.
Initially I was very scared of the Gurukul but now I have come to love it. I want to create the same opportunity for my students. Here we do everything together.