Sonal Kapoor is a microbiologist MBA whose strengths lie in grass root community initiatives that empower her country’s children and young adolescent girls through Creative Education and Skills Development. At the age of 24, during one of her film shoots, she happened to meet a young woman who had six daughters and was pregnant with her 7th child. On being asked about her circumstances, the woman narrated in a matter of fact way that she was ready to strangle her newborn if this time it happened to be a girl. She also spoke of sending her 8 year old daughter to work at a brothel so that she could feed the rest of her family. Sonal was so shocked that within the hour, the idea of starting a unique creative school had started taking shape. Within 3 weeks, after a small feasibility study in the area, Protsahan started as a one room creative arts and design school in one of the darkest slums of the country. These slums are described by the best newspapers of the country as 'ghettoes'.
After about four months, Sonal quit her corporate job and ventured into an altogether a different world where her creative genius was no longer used to make money for corporations, but was used to gradually revolutionize the education delivery mechanism for children at the bottommost of the social pyramid. She was finally able to use all the creativity that she previously used in the advertising and communications industry for something more profoundly important. Sonal went door to door in the darkest of urban slums in Uttam Nagar, west Delhi, the same place where she had met the mother who was sending her 8 year old to a brothel, and asked parents to send their daughters to Protsahan. She started experimenting with the innovative approaches of Design, Art, Digital Stories, Photography, Technology & Cinema (the 5 pillars of creativity model) to give young adolescent girls the power to break the extreme cycle of poverty and fight abuse through creative means. Filmmaking, Photography and Madhubani art work grew in popularity in areas which were rubbished as 'dark spaces' by most.
An erstwhile communications and advertising person, Sonal is one of the youngest social entrepreneurial woman in India to lead an international non-profit. She is one of the youngest to create mass qualitative impact to those at the bottommost of the social structure by using her 5 pillars of creativity approach. She was chosen as The Youth Delegate in 2011 at The World Bank-IMF, again for Australia-India Youth Dialogue in 2012, and as a keynote speaker at TEDxYOUTH, TEDxJMI, TEDxDTU and several others (Link to TEDxYOUTH talk ). Chosen as one of the three youngest change makers at the Airtel-Tehelka Think Fest 2012 in Goa, India, she is a youth icon widely recognized by publications and organizations such as the The Hindu, The Economic Times, The Times of India, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Goldman Sachs-ISB 10000 Women Entrepreneur Programme.
Sonal has spoken at several TED events, IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology). She has also been felicitated by the former President of Singapore, Mr. S R. Nathan. A recipient of several national and international honors, Sonal is passionate about impacting the most pressing problems faced by the developing world through the creativity & empathy found in grassroots education. In her free time she loves to hack travel, blog and read almost anything that she can lay her hands on.
She is a digital and CSR consultant for other national and international non profits and a blogger at The World Bank, and a UN Advisor on Children's Projects. A frequent twitter user, she tweets at @ArtForCause.
A Master in Software Engineering, Gunjeet is currently pursuing his PhD degree in 3D Technologies in Paris, France. His greatest achievement lies in his recognition by the European Research council as one of the youngest collaborators in the field of Immersive Virtual Environment. Also a part time entrepreneur, an avid reader, music lover and a graphics designer on the flip side, he has been associated with Protsahan since its initial days of creating an impact in society. He handles all the creative design work and graphics for Protsahan. Tweets at @studystruck.
An enthusiastic young person who loves using his creativity to bring a change in grass root education. He is extremely innovative and can create magic from waste materials and excite little children to keep coming to school everyday. He joined Protsahan in 2014 and shows a promising path ahead. He teaches paper craft and robotics to young adolescent girls. He is good at shadow sketching with an angle of psychology and gender equality. He coordinates Protsahan’s day to day activities such as organizing picnics, historical tours for children and handles the administrative work capably.
Vartika is a Psychologist and an Arts Based Therapy Practitioner. She comes from a healing and helping profession and treats little souls for their illnesses using various art forms like drawing, painting, music, dance, drama, stories, drum circles, subtle energy work and so on. She has worked with various organisations in different cities, working in the social and mental health sector with various populations. These include the chemically afflicted, nursing students from difficult backgrounds, adults with psychological illnesses, special children, orphans and children from difficult backgrounds. She has founded the Protsahan Pune chapter, single-handedly and is passionate about her work, travelling and exploring new places. Vartika is a young charismatic leader who joined Team Protsahan in 2012. Tweets at @_Blindmind.
A bright young girl who has come a long way fighting her personal battles to reach a stage where she is being trained by Godrej at Protsahan under the Livelihood Project to become a beauty expert. This effervescent girl is a huge inspiration as a trainer to our Protsahan girls, to whom she passes on her learning. She is one of the finest examples of a young micro entrepreneur girl who has risen from poverty, fought for her own education and now a stellar example of a community change maker.
Partner at Big Klick Media School and a BA in Mass Communications and a professionally trained filmmaker, Prerna is the Program Director at Protsahan who works closely with the Founder's vision. She has directed over a dozen documentaries with India's prime national network (Doordarshan) and was adjudged one of the top six youngest filmmakers at HMV Saregama. She challenges anyone to beat her at the Harry Potter open challenge anytime, even in the middle of a night! She loves to work with children, or as she puts it, 'tiny humans'! She is an active tweeter, tweets at @prernascribbles.
Vasanthi Ravi, an enthusiastic & assertive lady with a heart of gold for those who understand her. She is one of the strongest pillars of Protsahan in Singapore with Monika Narayanan for gathering support for Protsahan's mission. She joined Protsahan because she feels strongly for the cause of empowering at risk girls and women. Extremely strong work ethics with a flair for numbers and project management, she is a beautiful addition to Team Protsahan. Our Founder, Sonal during Vasanthi's official appointment mentioned, "Vasanthi's ethics, strength and assertion make her an asset here for strengthening our ground work back in India." She works closely with our official volunteers Monika Narayanan and Sandhya Ananthasivan under Sonal's vision for Protsahan.
Please note, Protsahan does not authorise anyone else in Singapore (individual, institution, group, social or otherwise) claiming to represent it in any capacity whatsoever or collect funds for Protsahan under any circumstances.
To support the team, an extremely supportive network of support staff and young volunteers make Team Protsahan a vibrant network of over 40 people globally, out of which 9 people are on payrolls.