Vishal Talreja

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2004


This profile was prepared when Vishal Talreja was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Vishal is building a volunteer-run initiative that provides vulnerable children—children from disadvantaged backgrounds, children who are gravely ill from cancer or who are HIV-positive, children who are orphans and street kids—with opportunities to have fun and learn concrete skills that allow them the possibility of eventually becoming integrated into mainstream society. Sports activities, art classes, field trips, and other opportunities offered by Vishal and his team yield visible results in the behavior and capabilities of participating children, many of whom otherwise have very limited chances for normal development.

While the transformative effect on children’s development is the end goal, the genius of Vishal’s idea rests in part with the design of his approach. First, his initiative is run by over 200 well-trained and committed volunteers who are encouraged to initiate and implement effective projects to support vulnerable children. Second, strong partnerships and unique fundraising efforts attract substantial aid from individuals and from businesses in the community. In one arrangement, for example, Xerox prints high-quality posters depicting real dreams of participating children. Volunteers then “crush” the posters, placing them in special bins in offices and shopping malls. Passers-by are encouraged to “uncrush a dream” by removing a poster from the bin and covering the cost of realizing the dream depicted on the poster.

Vishal’s initiative has begun to attract considerable attention from the Indian and the international press. Creating a dedicated citizen and corporate base to support society’s most vulnerable members, Vishal is building an important model for communities throughout India and beyond.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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