IT all began with a simple belief – simple, yet extremely powerful. That belief was ‘people care’ – and all that was required was to express that care in action. That belief was held by an ordinary citizen, in his youth, during his career as a flight purser, who went on to
become the founder of CRY – the late Rippan Kapoor.
That belief still runs through the DNA of CRY – Child Rights and YOU. Who would have imagined that this simple idea had in it, the seed to transform the way in which philanthropy is practiced for children in India?
The birth of the small Indian philanthropist
In the eighties and the early nineties, when foreign aid was thought to be the only available resource enabling the work for the underprivileged in the country, the Late Rippan Kapoor stood by this idea that every individual Indian can change the destiny of children in our country. CRY not only scaled up the model of individual giving in a paradigm shift for the development sector, but this pioneering effort paved the way for numerous other organisations to raise funds this way.
“CRY is an opportunity for you to do something to make a better future for our children,” Rippan told every single Indian. This unique model did not only help raise money, but also created a space for people from all strata to contribute for the cause, thereby giving an identity to the ‘small Indian philanthropist.’ Donations came from the working class – the secretaries and peons, donations came from first salaries, donations came from lunch box savings. CRY was inspiring ordinary citizens to become a part of a larger social equity project and to think about issues that normally they would consider out of their reach. A certain Rippan Kapur was pushing them to recognise the need to do something. And as a result, over a million people stepped up to ensure lasting change in the lives of children.
The youth as co-travelers
“The responsibility for change lies with all of us” – at CRY this is a quintessential value that defines our very existence. CRY partners with over 6,000 youth from eminent colleges and working professionals who take voluntary action in communities, organise campaigns and raise resources for children, and they do it…simply because they believe that they have a responsibility to bring about change.
From seven people sitting around a dining table and a collective fund of ₹50, to a 40-year-old institution that has supported over 300 grassroots level projects in 23 states of the country, reaching out to over two million children – this is a journey that would never have been possible with that firm belief in ‘You.’
When a friend of Rippan’s had asked him why he named this organisation CRY and not laugh, Rippan had replied – “the name ‘Child Relief and You’ (the name CRY had before it was rechristened as CRY Rights and You) particularised the problem quite succinctly. It was this individuation of the action – the ‘you’ with a finger pointing towards society at large – that was crucial to its success and hence to its name.”
To every person who has ever been associated with CRY in any way, another of Rippan’s thoughts stand central to their actions – “It’s not important why I got into this work. What is important is that it needs to be done.”