- 10 Aug 2022
“I was 15 when my life changed. It happened during a visit to an orphanage, where the first thing I saw was a tiny swing with a bell on top, next to the gate. Curious, I asked the admin, ‘What’s that?’ And what they said next shook me – ‘People leave the babies they don’t want there; they place them on the swinging crib & ring the bell.’
Earlier, I’d been a reluctant teen, who got dragged along when Mom went out for social work–I’d rather be playing with friends! But that visit transformed me. I didn’t understand how anyone could abandon their baby!
That day, I met many kids with sparkling eyes & bubbly smiles. But the idea of them being left in that swing filled me with anger. When they called me ‘Bhaiya!’... It was heartbreaking. I had to make a difference–for them.
Today, I can’t thank Mom enough because I carried that feeling for years, & began volunteering at an NGO. I mentored kids on things that govt schools missed out on. I remember one boy who showed me knives hidden under his bed–he thought it was cool! I worked with him, & urged him to focus on studies. Later, people around him said, ‘You’ve changed his life!’ It felt like an accomplishment!
Then, at 25, I was asked to join my family business. But I didn’t think it was a good fit for me, & it wouldn’t help me give back to society, so I chose my own path. And against odds & discouragement, in 2008, I started a research-marketing agency ‘iResearch’. I still remember when my first hire asked me, ‘Am I the only one here?’ And I said, ‘No, there are two people–you & I.’
And as the company grew, I wore many hats – the sales guy, the IT guy, the finance guy… I’d joke about being the CEO – Chief Everything Officer! But eventually, we found our footing.
When iResearch expanded to the UK & US, & our funds grew, I decided to fulfill my dream of launching my own NGO. Again, I was advised against it, ‘Why take more work? Just donate.’ But in my mind, the 15-year-old me stared back. So, in 2018, I launched Giving for Good Foundation – an NGO, funded & operated by iResearch!
We raised funds for education & environment. We developed ponds holding 50k+ liters of water to feed animals & birds; launched projects like ‘Kavach’ – educating 2k+ girls on menstrual health; ran digital literacy campaigns for all ages; & started ‘Sports for Excellence’ – where we now coach 150 students in football! In fact, one of our bright players, Pinky, got selected as a state player. She dreams of playing for India!
Touching 3k+ lives in the last 4 years… I think back to the boy who stood at the gate of that orphanage. Life has come full circle; I remember being teary-eyed when we won our first award, & today, my 9-year-old son wins awards at his school–for urging his peers to donate to food banks, & recycle & reuse plastic! I teach him what I was taught, ‘When you get, give & when you learn, teach. Small or big, we can always make a difference!’” - Yogesh Shah, Founder of Giving for Good Foundation
Exclusively written for Giving for Good Foundation by Humans of Bombay.
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This story is exclusively covered by Humans of Bombay.