ROPIO Foundation started by working in urban slums three years ago, catering to the educational and developmental needs of children and youth. Our mode of operation was to work inside slums and improve the situations from within by building a relationship with the slum dwellers. We started working at the slum clusters based behind RML hospital, Kali Bari Marg in April 2010 with 60 Kids.
We conducted tuitions for children belonging to government schools there, studying in classes between 1 and 10 (ages 6 – 18) as well as conducted creative workshops in art, craft, dance, music and theatre. With ample support and encouragement from the slums, our number of children reached 100 by August 2010. We also encouraged drop-outs to enroll back into school by counseling them and their families, on importance of formal education. Our momentum reached a screeching halt when the slums were demolished by CPWD in November 2010. A huge blow to our mission, this stalled our progress and severed ties with many kids as they along with their families had to move away to other slums and houses. This hand of fate steered us onto a different path. The long term vision remains the same but the journey has taken a detour. We decided to gather the 25 kids determined to continue with us and took a rented apartment in Satya Niketan in December 2010. With exams around the corner, our first concern was their education. We struggled to retain normalcy in their routine but forged on with the support of our volunteers and families. From Satya Niketan we moved to Patel Nagar which has been our home since April 2011.
Moving from the “informal city” (slums) setting to a rented abode brought its own set of challenges. The expenses skyrocketed as apart from education, food, lodging, utility bills, transport, health and nutrition of these kids became our responsibility. Providing them home away from home became a priority.
Like a phoenix rising from ashes, ROPIO got up, dusted itself off and embarked on this new tumultuous journey, adapting to the changes and challenges thrown our way. A centre for kids which was part of the ultimate goal and expected to come into the picture a few years down the line when we were more experienced and prepared was now thrust upon us by circumstances and we had to own it and move forward with it.
This change brought along a lot of clarity of where we were and where we are headed. This led us to our vision, mission and goals as an organization.