Praneeth of Ray of Hope – love and compassion towards our fellow human beings

By Denise
Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following our interview with
Praneeth, the President of the Indian association Ray of Hope which pursues the goal to
support the poorest of the poor to raise them to a self sustainable level of
life. Would like to thank Praneeth for his detailed answers and photos.
was your organization Ray of Hope founded and what are your main areas of
Ray of Hope is not just an organization, it’s a feeling … a feeling of
love and compassion towards our fellow human beings and to uplift the community.
It all started a few months after we graduated as engineers back in 2005.
 mother MRMV Nurjehan was the Director
of women and child welfare
in Hyderabad.
She asked me to
do something good for a few orphaned girls at a Home called “Shishu Vihar”.
Kids there needed blankets, and I decided to first visit the home. My intention
was to use my pocket money to purchase a few blankets, but then I saw there
were over 300 orphaned girls and
the 30 old women at the Home.
I felt it was unfair for them to brave the cold and wanted to do
something for everyone.
I approached a few close friends who were my school and engineering classmates. We began our
attempts by persuading and encouraging people around us to contribute.
We contacted many of our old friends and classmates from school and college, including
those who moved to the US to pursue their Masters. The response was huge. They
were all quite enthusiastic and not only donated but also raised funds from
others as well. This was our experience of creating and using social media
before it became a global phenomenon.
We also went door-to-door spreading the word. We
were quite surprised to see the number of people who were willing to contribute,
be it cash or kind. The fact that they were donating showed us that humanity
still existed among most of us. There were two unexpected surprises in this process: first of which was
from one of our friends Naresh agarwal who was in the US for his M.S, who donated a substantial amount. This was
a great contribution as he wasn’t
employed and was struggling
financially, but still contributed. The second was from a fruit vendor, who whole
heartedly donated Rs.500/- of
his hard earned money.
This was the turning point for us as this
showed the kind of trust that
people had in us and also that almost everyone is interested in
reaching out to fellow human beings in need. They just needed a medium which
they could trust their resources with. 
Our initial
plan was only to collect funds that would suffice to
buy blankets and mattresses for residents at the Home. But because
the amount of publicity it had generated, the contributions were surprising.
By the end of the campaign, they were at least 10 times more than what we
originally set out for. So we used this opportunity to also purchase new clothes,
play equipment, lots of books and book shelves for the children, and a
Television Set for the old women there.
After this, we
spent the evening at Shishu Vihar and left with loads of exuberance
and a sense of increased responsibility. Because we were all heading off to our
planned careers, our initial plan was a short term contribution to society.
However, our experience changed it all.  
We e-mailed
the event photographs to everyone who contributed and even to those who
didn’t. We did this as we wanted to reinforce the trust that everyone had
in us and contributed so generously, to show them how grateful we are
because without them this wouldn’t have been possible. We also wanted them
to feel the joy we felt when we visited the home.
Our Friends
were mostly either in the US doing their MS or in India working for IT
companies. They were so moved by the photographs that they spread the story everywhere,
and thus through word-of-mouth, there were more contributions each day. We
realized the power of the work we were doing and that our daily lives shouldn’t
stop us from helping our fellow human beings, especially when there’s so much
support even from people we don’t know. After through research on a few places
which needed immediate help, we went on to invest the contributions in The
Good Samaritan Home in Pocharam Village, Devnar Blind School (Begumpet,
Hyderabad), Ashray Akruti (Little Angels School for the Hearing
Impaired, Hyderabad), etc.
Our friends and
their social circles were both thankful to us that we shared the photographs
with him and also sorry that they didn’t contribute the first time around. This
was so unexpected, and we realized how amazing it is that a small thought could
lead to such great results.. Few weeks later, we decided to name our
organization “Ray of Hope…” Time and again, the trust and faith that
everyone had in us was reinforced.
We were in a
bit of a dilemma as what should be done as I was leaving to IIT Kanpur for my
further studies; when my father Pallepogu Jayanadha Rao, who is a State
Project officer with SERP(Society for Eradicaton of Rural Poverty, Ministry of
Rural Development) advised us to continue the good work, and so we opened a
community for Ray Of Hope in Orkut, which was a popular social networking
site, and received an incredible response.
Over the years,
there’s been a variety of areas of intervention, such as water supply for a
village, educating orphaned children, the physically impaired, improving living
standards of anyone in need be it man or woman, young or old, disaster relief
funds, to name a few.
To make the
organization more sustainable, we’ve now ventured into T-shirts sports uniforms
and memorabilia, food stalls at events such as exhibitions and
corporate/college events, and conducting marathons, cricket and other
sporting/fitness/health/wellness tournaments and  programs.

Which are the most urgent social issues in the region where you operate? How do you promote national integration?
India’s uncontrollably growing huge
population is the core of all major problems that exist. Every social issue is
but a byproduct of a lack of population control. What’s worse is all major
problems are more or less intertwined with one another.
There’s a lack of quality education and healthy
homes for majority of orphans in and around the city. Same is the case for the
elderly. The homes they live in are highly underfunded and below standards for
human beings. They come with poor management from underpaid unskilled people.
Literacy in the state of Telangana is a major issue. In fact it is one of the
states in India that has the lowest rates of literacy, although Hyderabad is a
centre of education. As stated before, we focus a lot on education. Education
is one of the main forces to improve national integration. Illiterate and
ignorant people cannot be conscious of the values of national integration. Education
promotes faith in the integrity and the moral worth of the individual. Educational
institutions play a key role as platforms that uplift the spirit of national
The study and resolution of various
social problems can be assigned to the educational institutions. The problems
in the health of citizens mentioned in the next segment are also due to a lack
of education. People need to be re-educated on healthy living. Nutrition and
fitness should be part of everyday life, just like drinking water and
breathing, and shouldn’t be seen as a burden. It must be integrated. A
healthier nation is more together.
Lack of
fitness, Overabundance of Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases and
it’s effect on the economy:
This is a national epidemic, with over 30 million diabetics in India already,
and estimated to be the highest globally by 2030. According to the Indian
journal of endocrinology, the number of hypertensive
is expected to go up from 118 million to
214 million
by 2025. There are over 30
million obese people
in India. A million people under the age of 30 die
every year from cardiac diseases. High cholesterol, high Bloodpressure,
disastrous hormonal balance and many other medical problems exist in India.
Majority of these problems are in the top tier cities, including Hyderabad,
which accounts for about 8% of the aforementioned numbers, which is massive for
a city with a 7 million population
in a country with 1.25 billion. A family in Hyderabad spends an average of USD 1000 on hospital bills each year and loses about 50 days of
work related time due to sick leaves. Each person in the educated middle class
which is about half of the city loses a good USD3000 each year (including
medical bills) due to lack of productivity as a result of poor health and
wellness. That’s a loss of USD 21
billion to the city each year
, and is steadily rising. Our initiative to
conduct marathons and sports/fitness/health related tournaments is to promote
healthy living. We also strongly believe that playing sports not only help us
grow physically but also mentally. They teach us to learn how to work with
people, lead, follow and focus, at the right time. Nothing can be more
uplifting and has the ability to build character more than playing a sport. It
makes us learn how to adjust with minds that work differently and use
combinations to their best scope. Most importantly, it keeps us fit healthy
lively and well. Something this country badly needs.
water system:
Across major cities in India, there’s no suitable Drinking water system. A
lot of colonies face the problem of drinking water. 2+ million households in
Hyderabad do not have a tap water connection. The city doesn’t have its own
reservoirs. Most of the water comes from the Krishna and Godavari rivers
through pipelines. It also has the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar
lake-reservoirs which were built in early 1930s connected to the Musi river.
Since then, no water reservoirs were built.
is blessed to have a wonderful lake
called the Hussein Sagar, which is also a source of drinking water for a
lot of areas, but it unfortunately is extremely filthy, with tons of garbage
and other toxins disposed off in it. And although it’s filtered before it
reaches households, it’s still unacceptable the way it’s maintained. The
drainage lines need to be diverted. We need to find a way to pump fresh wat
er into the lake. Most importantly, we should stop abusing it. The Musi
river and the surrounding areas have become nothing but a dump for industrial heavy
metals and drainage. It used to be a significant source of clean drinking water
but has become so toxic that it’s much harder now to even filter it. A major
problem is: most of the local vegetable businesses still grow their crops
around the river. So most of the vegetables including precious dark green
leaves are filled with toxic heavy metals.
We must promote and work
aggressively on rain-water harvesting and restoration of lakes.
Employment in the state of Telangana: Jobs are also
a major area of concern for the new Telangana administration. The region is
supposed to have a million new jobs available, but in reality only 30% of these
have been provided in the region.
Waste disposal
In Hyderabad, we can see trash thrown everywhere on roads, and as mentioned
above, in our lakes and rivers too! Hyderabad doesn’t have a proper waste
management system. The Govt. is overhauling 3500kms of sewage system. It is
keen to follow a movement called ‘waste to wealth’.  They want to convert
wet waste to manure to wealth, dry waste to energy to wealth. Skilful planning
is of utmost importance, and it’s also a great opportunity to improve
you address any specific action to women’s rights and empowerment?
do strongly recognize and support the need for women’s rights and empowerment. Our
parents have raised us equally and it needs to be a nation-wide phenomenon
although it isn’t yet.
have ventured into T-shirts
manufacturing few months back. In our manufacturing unit which is headed by one
of our core team members Prathiba Marthi,
adult women do the tailoring and stitching work. These women produce quality
hand worked T-shirts.
in India traditionally is a male occupation, so women – especially the poor and
underprivileged ones – are usually excluded from this and other professions.
Opening up this training and job opportunity does not only provide them with a
salary but also helps to raise confidence and to increase the weight of their
voice and their share in decision making processes in their families.
the mid to long term, the goal for this project is to be self-sustained,
without having the need for any monetary support from the outside. The project
is now set up to start the vocational training for students and to include
another woman in the project. However, at the moment there is not enough money
to buy enough fabric and there simply isn’t enough space for the vocational
training. Therefore, in order to set this up in a sustainable way, we rely on
your support to make it happen! We are very confident that this project will be
able to stand on its own feet if we support it for another year. 
also exploring opportunities in Australia with a few outlets whose
positive response has been overwhelming.
next steps are the building of a proper classroom for the vocational training,
the purchase of materials and tools for the production’s development and the
initial salary for two women for 12 months. 
actions have always been to support every segment of those in need regardless
of race, gender, age or nationality. We think this is a great way to improve
national integration.
page link of our Clothing line 7thstudio Apparels is

you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?

we do. Many of our family members work for the government, and we get to know a
lot of details in regards to what kind of projects are being undertaken, where
there’s a need and then determine how we can fulfill the needs to the best of
our capacity. Like stated above, our network has grown over the years through
word of mouth of our existing volunteers and donors. We’ve collaborated with
multiple educational institutions over the years primarily through students and
some of the faculty. These can be premier institutes such as the IITs and the
IIMs and also local schools and colleges in different cities. We’re also
working on hiring interns from across the country who will work on selective
projects. One of their main responsibilities would be to contact as many corporate
entities and propose collaboration with them as part of their CSR initiatives.
We become the medium for them to channel their CSR activities. Again, we stress
on health fitness and wellness through various mediums, such as sports to be
included in the CSR activities.