In case you are interested in learning more about Sumeet’s truly inspiring life and work thus far (and yes, he’s only 24!), we’ve pulled together some resources including a brief Q&A that we did:
Getting to Know Sumeet (a short Q&A)
1. If you were meeting someone for the first time, how would you describe yourself -briefly? What would you want people to know about you.
I would like them to know that even after facing many problems in personal life and in academics I still manage to reach closer to my dream.
2. What inspired/motivated you to undertake this work?
Many things pushed me to take up this work. My failure in life, to problems at home, Granny – grandfather’s leadership qualities, to my teachers’ belief in me when I was going through a bad time, having two specially challenged kids at home, saw one kid dying in the hospital due to lack of financial support. Overall the struggle in life has pushed me to do what I do.
3. Impact can be defined in different ways. How do you define impact when it comes to the work you do, and what has been your impact thus far?
We at Pragati really don’t focus on impact. Since we are dealing with hospitalized
children, giving them a good time. There have been many situations when the parents walk in to us and say thank you for making my child smile, kids saying we really enjoyed – that is the impact, when doctors say thank you so much, those kids have started taking medicine because of your activity. Since we tell them if they have to participate in our activity they have to take their medicine and come. Also when we were rejected for funds, we were asked the same questions. My answer was the same. But it made me stronger and now when anyone asks what is the impact, I simply say we make kids smile while they are on their treatment in the hospital. We have managed to reach more then 6,500 kids. All these years. It’s a small number, but I am sure each and every individual kid enjoyed being in our activity through various programs.
4. What do you ultimately hope to have accomplished through your project 5 years from now?
If I get support from like-minded people, who are willing to adopt our Project, I will reach out to many more hospitals and many more children all across Mumbai. Funding has been the main issue. I could not get more people on board. My team and I have big dreams for Pragati, but we always get stuck and pulled back. Also since people believe in what we do, they have seen the difference. We do get recommendation letters, but we are also working for some other NGOs where we get our bread and butter. So it’s been a challenge to sustain.
5. Who has been your role model/mentor, and why?
Kids, grandparents, my mother, teacher (Rajshree Didi, Dev bhaiyya ). I feel kids are my role model. When they smile I feel happy. Since I had a very bad childhood, I see my childhood in them. The things which I have not got in my childhood, I try give it to all the kids whom I meet. I live my childhood being around with the younger kids. Grandparents and my mother because they have seen a lot of struggle and still they manage to overcome all the hardships. My teacher because when everyone said I was a failure and I am good for nothing that point of time she believed and brought faith in me.
6. What advice or wisdom would you offer to young people (in any country) growing up today?
- Respect parents since, from the birth until the time we look after ourselves, our parents’ hard work and their dedication have made us capable. I don’t respect my father here because he was addicted to alcohol and every night he use to beat us. My mother go separated from him. Here it’s respect to my mother for her brave step which she took when I was just 6. They we moved to Nana – Nani (grandparents ). There, we got love and affection. So respecting people who have invested love, care, affection, and time when you were a kid.
- Stop giving advice and get your hands dirty. I have seen my friend when we started our work. Great ideas they would give but when I would request them they would say, you’re free boss. You do. We don’t have time. So, when you believe in something, just do it.
- Utilize time for social action. A lot of young people blame the government, but what have you done to bring that change? If all the young people ask this question to themselves they will find the right way to contribute to society.
- Always being humble and grounded. Youth, if they get attention from media, start flying high, they start fee;omg they are different from others. Without understanding that whatever attention they get it’s only for a short span of a time. So, always giving your 101% work and being focused.
Other Sources On Sumeet:
- Pragati’s website – http://www.pragatihappiness.org
- Great video (~6 minutes) on Sumeet and his work by Ashoka’s Youth Venture (a great organization that supports young change makers around the world) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByRAnC-CSGc
- Times of India piece about Sumeet’s work.