Success Story

A Home-maker to a Successful Entrepreneur

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Swati Balkawade, Warje
Owner at Swati’s parlour

Swati, a young woman filled with joy, always aspired to be self-reliant. She could not continue her education after the 10th grade but that never stopped her from believing in her dreams. She is married in a well to do household. Her husband has a successful tourism company but Swati wanted to be financially independent.

She came to know about the Lighthouse from her neighbour and decided to join the Foundation course. Swati was enthusiastic about the course. She showcased diligence, sincerely took notes, and participated in all the activities.

After the completion of the Foundation Course, Swati enrolled herself in the beauty parlour course. After the basic course, Swati wanted to increase her domain knowledge and decided to enroll in the advanced beauty parlour course. Nutan- the Lighthouse Center head helped and guided her throughout her course and beyond.

On the completion of the course, Swati started working in a parlour. The appreciation she received at her work boosted her confidence to start her own parlour. She has worked hard to arrange for the finances she needed and started her own salon- Swati’s Makeover.

“The Lighthouse never stopped believing in me and my dreams. The team guided me throughout my journey and beyond.” – Swati

In the next few months, the pandemic hit the world and her business came to halt. This did not stop Swati, she started her online business of stitching clothes and that worked too. In August 2020, Swati re-opened her parlour and that parlour now also has a counter for ladies’ and children’s garments and cosmetics. Swati earns from her own enterprise and is self-dependent for all her financial needs.

The Lighthouses are designed with a holistic approach to empower the underprivileged by giving them an opportunity to turn their life around. The motive here is not only to help them gain financial stability but also to provide them with emotional support while they’re on the way to self-realization.

An Inspiring Transformation into a Quality Manager

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Pradnya Nagtilak, Warje
Quality Manager at Parle-G

Pradnya, an Arts graduate, currently lives with her family in Pune. Her father was the only earning member of the family who lost his job due to an accident and is now bed-ridden. Since the only source of income had stopped. The family faced immense difficulties. Due to the financial crisis, Pradnya was married early.

A few days after her marriage Pradnya realized her husband was an alcoholic. She faced domestic violence and was often beaten with an iron rod. After a few months, Pradnya finally gathered courage and left her husband’s home and started living with her parents again.

After realizing about Pradnya’s pregnancy, her parents and husband pressurized her to return to her husband’s home. She agreed to give her marriage a second chance for the sake of her child. Unfortunately, things got worse.

Pradnya confronted her family and with her father’s support, Pradnya could file a police complaint against her husband. Since she started living with her parents, she wanted to support them financially. Pradnya did many odd jobs but she had to quit working in 2018 due to her son’s serious medical condition.

In 2019, Pradnya was at her lowest when she joined the Lighthouse. After a few days, her facilitators observed that Pradnya was mentally disturbed. On learning about her past and current circumstances, Pradnya received special support and attention from the Lighthouse team. She was encouraged to take part in activities she liked. The Lighthouse witnessed her transform herself into a confident young woman by the end of the Foundation course.

Today, Pradnya has secured herself a job as a Quality Manager at Parle-G and with a salary that will help her support herself and her family with a comfortable life. She will begin working on 7th October 2020.

The Lighthouses are designed with a holistic approach to empower the underprivileged by giving them an opportunity to turn their life around. The motive here is not only to help them gain financial stability but also to provide them with emotional support while they’re on the way to self-realization.

From a Difficult Marriage to a Budding Beautician.

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Rekha Waghmare, Bibawewadi

Rakhee, the budding beautician never had it easy. She has experienced many set-backs in life one of which has been a marriage under false pretense. After facing domestic violence by her in-laws for a long time, she decided to get separated. Unfortunately, both her young children live with their father.

All this pushed Rakhee towards depression where she started having suicidal tendencies. Looking at her condition, her loved ones were looking for a spark of motivation for her to be happy again. On suggesting the Lighthouse program by one of her community members, she enrolled for the Foundation Course.

The Lighthouse program gave Rakhee a reason to look forward to something every day. Rakhee took a little time to adjust but with the support of the staff, she began to participate actively in all the activities conducted.
By the end of the Foundation course, she decided to sharpen her communication skills and language in English.

Rakhee enrolled herself in the Bindaas Bol English speaking course offered by the Lighthouse. During the counseling session, she showed an interest in the field of beauty and teaching. Taking this into consideration, the Lighthouse team encouraged her to enroll in the beauty parlor and a teaching course.

“I was on the verge of a breakdown and thought ending my life was the only solution. The Lighthouse gave me a reason to live, made me realize that it is always good in the world, we just have to see in the right direction.”- Rakhee

Rakhee aspires to start her own independent parlor one day. Her aim is to become financially independent and get custody of her children. She wishes to give her children a good education and make them better human beings. Currently, Rakhee is dedicated to her goals and is on her journey to make her dreams come true.

The Lighthouses are designed with a holistic approach to empower the underprivileged by giving them an opportunity to turn their life around. The motive here is not only to help them gain financial stability but also to provide them with emotional support while they’re on the way to self-realization.

The recipe to be a successful businesswoman at the age of 51!

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Vandana Pagar,
Founder of Malhar Foods

Vandana Pagar, the Founder of Malhar Foods is the woman who showed courage and immense belief in her-self. Before joining the Lighthouse and becoming a successful entrepreneur, Vandana was going through a difficult phase and had to fulfil multiple family responsibilities.

She is a single mother raising three children. Even after completing a Food Processing course from I.T.I Aundh, she lacked support and knowledge to do something of her own. She was often discouraged to follow her dreams from those around her, but Vandana did not give up.

The Lighthouse gave her a platform to organize her ideas and kick off a food business. Today, at 51, she is
exporting spices to the USA, Germany, and Japan. She also has a wide range of instant food products and
snacks. Vandana knows she is not alone in this endeavour and believes that she is part of a larger

“The Lighthouse stood by me through thick and thin and this sense of solidarity has been my strength”.- Vandana

She recently bagged the “Navdurga Udyogini Puraskar” at Baramati for being a successful first-
generation entrepreneur!

Along with support and assistance, the Lighthouse program gives a platform to every individual to transform themselves into successful entrepreneurs. Right from inception to success, the program helps them in every stage of their business.

Leading children into the future

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Mrs. Nakusa Pawar,
Buntar Barnard PMC School 58G

Born in a family where girls were not wanted or appreciated, Mrs. Nakusa Pawar is like a ray of sunshine. The name Nakusa means ‘unwanted’ in Marathi. Mrs. Pawar has made it her life’s mission to change that perception and spread warmth and happiness wherever she goes.

Under her leadership, the Hadapsar- Bunter Bernard school has really flourished. Mrs. Pawar leads from the front and is a hands-on headmistress. She knows every single child in the school and is aware of their progress and challenges. She observes classes and even teaches herself from time to time. She is always willing to step in and fill any gaps in the school when teachers are on leave. She conducts the morning school assembly and ensures that a diverse variety of ideas are implemented – from songs, to poetry and discussions on history and great leaders.

Mrs. Pawar proactively supports any initiative for the betterment of the school and her children. The Jeevan Shikshan – Social and Emotional Learning program has flourished in her school due to her leadership.

Teaching children, changing lives.

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Mrs. Surekha Bhalerao
Sitaram Abaji Bibwe
PMC School No 64B

Mrs. Surekha Bhalerao is a teacher to her core. She not only aims to see her students excel academically but also to be better human beings. Her continuous efforts to teach students in innovative ways has earned her the love and respect of all her students. Even after the students leave the schools she has taught in, they have stayed in touch with her.

Mrs. Bhalerao welcomed the Jeevan Shikshan Social and Emotional learning program as she intuitively understood the benefits it would have on her children. The sessions are conducted patiently, giving each child space to speak and participate.

Due to COVID-19, the schools have been closed since March 2020. But Mrs. Bhalerao’s 7th-grade class has not been defeated by the pandemic. Education for her children has continued through Whatsapp in an iterative process. She first posts lesson explanations through voice notes and videos where she teaches using a whiteboard. Then she responds to queries received from children. Some homework is also posted. Children do their work, take pictures, and post it back on the group. Mrs. Bhalerao has innovatively used markup tools to correct the work and send it back to her students. She ensures she responds to each and every message she gets. The class is active from 8 pm to 11.30 pm and that doesn’t restrict her in any way.

She firmly believes that a teacher can bring about monumental changes in the lives of students and shows the way herself.

Mentoring teachers, learning together

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Mrs. Vijaya Mahadik

The textbooks for grade 2 were revised at the end of the previous academic year to focus on activity-based learning. One of the Sahyogis, Vijaya Mahadik, realized that the teachers needed guidance to use the updated versions of the textbooks.

Vijaya took the initiative to study the revised curriculum and guidelines for Math & Marathi during the summer break. She designed a progression of modules of learning activities for teachers to use along with the textbooks. With the inputs from three other Sahyogis (Savita Mahajan, Sunita Pingat, and Nivedita Barnabas) and approval from Mrs. Shubhangi Chavan, DEO, a complete set of training modules were created.

These modules were to support the teachers of Grades 1 & 2 through training and classroom support. This was an important milestone for the project because of the ownership shown by the Sahyogis in creating a teacher’s support module.

“It’s never too late to begin again”- John and Sharlet Gaikwad

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John and Sharlet Gaikwad were at their lowest when they joined the Lighthouse. They needed a new purpose. The family had been facing hardships for quite some time and needed the motivation to begin again.

The Lighthouse team members and students gently reminded them that “it is fine to give oneself the permission to be happy again”. At the Lighthouse, amidst all the youth, they gradually opened up and felt a sense of belonging and fulfilment. The connections with their new Lighthouse friends made them realize their interests that gave their life a new meaning. After participating in a few activities, John learned he enjoyed cooking. He later decided to start his own canteen.

Initially, John faced difficulties but he was persistent. The Lighthouse team provided him with guidance regarding the costing model and sourcing new orders. Today, John has a job in a large company, running one of their cafeteria counters! His dream is coming true. Meanwhile, Sharlet realized she was inclined towards the beauty industry and enrolled for the Beauty Parlour course.

The Lighthouse continues to conduct sessions with John and Sharlet, and guide them on their successes and learnings. More than earning a livelihood, their motivation towards life is to connect with people and create a sense of belonging.

The Lighthouse program continues to motivate people like John and Sharlet and is determined towards changing lives and giving people a reason to live. The motive here is not only to help people gain financial stability but also to provide them with emotional support while they’re on the way to self-realization.

Teacher-Trainers : The Champions of Children

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The Kothrud-Karvenagar cluster trainings are a great culmination of pre-planning, teamwork and flawless execution. This is what the Sahyogis explain about the training process: “We all meet together before conducting any training so that we can pre-plan. We divide the sessions amongst ourselves and discuss. One day prior to the training, we check the training hall and arrange for the logistics. We even check the toilets and make sure that they are clean. We ensure a conducive environment for our participants (teachers) so that they feel comfortable and can concentrate on the training. Having a circular seating arrangement helps us to improve participation and audience connect. Our trainings are very participatory and the teachers really have a good time while learning. The most striking feature of our trainings is that even if we have divided the topics and conducted sessions accordingly, we all back each other during the question-answer sessions. When one of us is conducting a session, the other is a support for the presenter to help with logistics and the rest (two) of us who are free at that point note down our observations for that day’s training regarding what went well and what can be improved. Post the training, we discuss our observations and reflections. This helps us improve and deliver better every time.”

The Shikshak Sahyogi Dal comprises 50 “Teacher-Coaches” who are being trained intensively by PMC and Pune City Connect. In turn, they provide training and classroom support to over 1500 teachers across PMC schools.

On a journey to a successful poultry business

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Mangesh, a resident of Samrat Nagar, in Aundh, always aspired to become an entrepreneur and start a poultry farming business. His father is a farmer in Paud village and often found it difficult to make ends meet. Mangesh knew he had to support his family with an alternate source of income but his fears and lack of knowledge held him back.

On joining the Lighthouse program, he actively participated in the activities and was the first candidate to show an interest in a poultry course. He took the initiative and worked along with the Lighthouse Skilling Coordinator to find the appropriate course to his liking and successfully went on to complete a poultry business course through MITCON.

“The Lighthouse was committed to my dream and supported me throughout my journey. Although I was the very first student to aspire to poultry farming, the Lighthouse found a skilling organization that could help me pursue this. I could overcome my fears and skill myself to start a business of my own only because of the constant support and assistance I received from the team members.”- Mangesh

During his course, Mangesh gained basic information in the poultry farm domain. With technical knowledge and continuous help from the Lighthouse staff, Mangesh was able to connect with experts in the field to broaden his horizons. Mangesh is now set to begin his journey in the Poultry Business.

The Lighthouse program is a multi-disciplinary project, with a holistic approach to skill development and employment. It is designed to awaken deep and long-term aspirations, stemming from a sense of social belonging, and at the same time address skilling needs of young people from socio-economically vulnerable backgrounds.