Way back in the 1970s, Rippan Kapur, a young airline purser, was driven by the extraordinary dream to see a day when no Indian child would be deprived of rights as basic as survival, participation, protection and development. Like many of us, Rippan too was upset when he saw disparities between privileged and underprivileged children. He hated to see children begging and working as servants. Unlike most of us though, he did something about it. He joined his school’s social service club and read to the blind, visited children in hospitals, held reading and writing classes for street children, and started a free dispensary at a slum the club adopted. To raise funds for these activities, the club sold milk. It even won a shield for the best Interact club! These qualities of resourcefulness and determination came in handy.
In 1979 Rippan and 6 friends started CRY with Rs 50 around his mother’s dining table. They felt that something needed to be done to improve the situation of the underprivileged Indian child. Uncharacteristically, given their backgrounds and motivations, they chose not to start a grassroots-level implementing organisation working directly with and for underprivileged children. They opted instead to make CRY a link between the millions of Indians who could provide resources and thousands of dedicated people and organisations at the grassroots-level who are struggling to function for lack of them. This “link” or enabling position has determined CRY’s strategic choices at every juncture – from the fundraising methods it employs, to the nature of its relationship with the NGOs it partners with.
All through the early, difficult years, it was Rippan’s passion and conviction that drove CRY. He was firmly convinced that each of us can, in our own small way, be the agents of change, and when enough of us become one, the impact is a lasting change for the better. All he asked of people was that they help CRY by doing what they were good at. As he put it, “What I can do, I must do.”
Although Rippan passed away in 1994, his vision for underprivileged children ensures that CRY continues to grow.