The SIFE Somaiya Social cell is a forum of 25 students at K.J.Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research. They are guided by some of the staff members of the reputed B-school. Incidentally, SIFE is an international network of students, academics and business leaders. The members of the SIFE Somaiya Social Cell are not ordinary MBA students, who hope to earn in dollars some day at a 9-5 job. They represent the youth of today, who work to strive for the good of the community, with a passion to enrich the lives of the underprivileged. They use their management acumen and natural intelligence to help the underprivileged sections of the society in innovative, self-sustaining ways.
Warli has been one of the pet projects of Somaiya social cell. 2 years ago, Warli used to be a sleepy, forgotten tribe, 150km away from Mumbai, whose residents had a unique gift – a special art form that was forgotten, and yet extensively copied by many. With the efforts of the Somaiya social cell over the past 2 years, the artists of Warli are now slowly getting the recognition they deserve. Somaiya social cell has been marketing Warli art in the form of beautiful wall paintings, and exquisite clothes, bed sheets, tablecloths etc all adorned with the art. The striking paintings, resplendent with their beautiful, vibrant colours have been a huge hit with Mumbai’s people – both by the general public as well as designers. They have organised various workshops and have even set up stalls at the Kalaghoda festivals, which specialises in show casing unique art forms.
In spite of being in the 21st century, one of the biggest ironies in India is that obesity is a common disorder to be found among its urban middle class while thousands of children still die of malnourishment and hunger. In its efforts in this direction, Somaiya Social cell has taken up Kitchen farming projects at Nareshwadi – another unknown village near Mumbai. Here, the students, aided by McDonalds, work with the village women and teach them to grow vegetables like tomatoes and spinach in their gardens, also providing them with seeds and saplings. Thus, the villagers can now be self sufficient in their needs for food, and can even sell the excess of what they grow.
The prejudice against victims of HIV/AIDS is still very high in India. These people often fail to secure regular jobs and sustain their families. Again, due to lack of awareness, they often suffer from lack of nutrition and other health problems. Somaiya Social cell have associated with SAHAS – an NGO to help these families to become financially independent by teaching them vocational courses like sewing. They also help them with financial help, with the help of grants received from various corporate companies, and by organising fund raising events, like a marathon run.
In addition to these, Somaiya Social Cell has also associations with NAB – National Association for the Blind. It helps these people earn their livelihood by marketing the products – like candles and bags – made by them. It associates with the NABARD for these activities. In conjunction with NASEOH, it also provides free financial literacy classes to the underprivileged. This is done regularly every week at the Vocational Training Institute inside the Somaiya Campus at Vidyavihar, Mumbai. They provide them with study material, and certificates. They are aided in their commendable efforts in this direction with grants from HSBC. To further their efforts in the field of education, Somaiya Social Cell volunteers also provide free education to children of construction workers, regularly on all weekdays, in the college campus. Due to financial and logistical restrictions, their parents often don’t send them to school at all, or are able to send them only to Marathi medium schools. The volunteers not only teach the kids English and Maths free of cost, but also provide them with free notebooks, pencils, reading and learning material, and also organise special events for them, with games and prizes. Other activities by Somaiya Social cell include spreading AIDS awareness through street plays, donations to various charities – both in cash and on kind, by selling old newspapers, or collecting clothes, books etc from students. They have also organised blood donation camps in association with the Somaiya Hospital at Sion, Mumbai, which have been a great success.
The SIFE Somaiya Social Cell was one of the many teams which participated in the international SIFE competition, was held this year in June. SIFE Somaiya Social Cell made it to the semi finals. Unfortunately, they lost the battle there. But their contribution to the residents of Warli and Nareshwadi, in particular, will always be remembered and cherished in the hearts of the people. SIFE Somaiya Social Cell sets an example to the youth of today, towards being socially responsible, and applying their education in a way that benefits the society.