The Open Door Foundation began with a small group of friends – mostly busy professionals with varied backgrounds – who felt the urge to do something more meaningful with their lives. The aim of the group was to find a cause that resonated with each individual, and that would enable them to do good, give back to society and stay engaged.
In February 2011, the group began to volunteer their time to help high school students at St. Patrick’s Boys Home with their exam preparation. As the tutorials with the boys continued, each individual experienced an immense sense of fulfilment at that came not only from helping the children achieve their potential, but also from their interactions with them.
It was clear that the children needed more than just academic help; the orphanages themselves required support in terms of funding for food, clothing and infrastructural repairs. The children needed mentors who would invest a sustained amount of time to build relationships with them and understand their individual needs.
The group saw this as an opportunity for them to do something meaningful with their time and resources – a means of giving back to society. The disadvantages faced by the children hampered them from reaching their full potential and living fulfilling lives. By investing their time, care, support and resources, each volunteer could – in effect – level the playing field, thus enabling each child to build a better future. The idea to ‘Create Equal Opportunities’ was born.
Calling on friends and colleagues to join them, they expanded their reach to a second orphanage, now covering a total of 120 children. A Facebook group was created to reach an increased number of potential volunteers. The core group began to match the skills of the new volunteers to needs at the various orphanages. Building on their first-hand knowledge of the challenges at each orphanage, they were able to effectively address the gaps by putting the right volunteers in touch with each orphanage.
The support was overwhelming. Volunteers poured in as friends of existing volunteers joined the group – each eager to help out in any way they could. Doctors, nurses, and other professionals joined the group and offered their services, thus providing a holistic approach that included not just the physical well-being of the children, but emotional care as well.
The rest of the year was spent in rapid expansion to cover additional orphanages. Learnings from interactions with the orphanage management and the children enabled the founders to establish the four main categories under which volunteers could provide their support, as well as putting up systems in place to sustain the movement. By January 2012, the core members, in consultation with a large number of dedicated volunteers, decided to formalise the initiative with the view of spreading this vision of Creating Equal Opportunities to other cities in India. A Public Charitable Trust was established and The Open Door Foundation was born.