Orenda was started by two sisters, Monil and Ishita Singhal in 2013. Their work had initially started as an environmental initiative, to combat the challenges their city, Delhi, was facing at the time. Waste had accumulated all over the city, there was severe lack of clean drinking water, and the air quality had deemed Delhi the most polluted city in the world - all of which not only had serious impacts on their own health, but the health of everyone around them. After learning from their parents, who are doctors, that such issues are easily preventable by human based action, the two sisters set out to spread awareness.
Orenda is a huron that means - "the invocation of the power of the human will to change the world around them."
They started putting up stalls, organising awareness drives and campaigns, and conducting workshops all over their city. After a particularly devastating outbreak of dengue and malaria during the monsoons, they tried to expand their outreach to the more marginalised sections of Delhi, who were suffering the worst of it. They held workshops with children from urban slums in Delhi on environmental and health based issues, when they discovered an entirely new challenge.
Lack of proper education and privilege owing to their poverty had resulted in severe gaps in these children's understandings of the world. In order to help these children overcome such challenges, we shifted our focus from just environmental and health initiatives and undertook a more holistic life skills education approach.
For the past few years, we've been working with children from social and economically marginalised populations across Delhi, on life skills issues such as financial literacy, gender based awareness, health etc. We collaborated with the directorate of education and SCERTs to conduct these workshops in public schools. We also conducted several teacher training sessions and organised our workshops into a shareable curriculum for the government. Through this, we've been able to amplify our impact more than we could've ever hoped to!
Following the success of our project (CrAFT), we're working on a new project targeting mental health and we can't wait to share it with you. Stay tuned for updates!