Jolkona Foundation’s first fundraiser is now in the history books. It was a successful Hot Chocolate and Dessert Fundraiser Social where we had the opportunity to talk about our work and highlight the recent work we did for the victims of the Cyclone in Bangladesh. We mainly used Facebook to spread the word about this fundraiser. We tried to reach out to our family and friends in the Los Angeles area.

We had a turn out of about 20 people and we were able to raise little over $1000 during the event!!! We are very encouraged by the turn out of mostly college students and young professionals and by the fact that we were able to raise $1000 from such a small crowd. We hope to take the Jolkona message on the road more often in the future with plans to hit up Seattle, the Bay Area, Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. in the near future.

Here are some photos from the fundraiser:

We at Jolkona Foundation want to wish all of you very happy holidays and a new year to come! We hope that you and your families have a wonderful and prosperous 2008!

We recently received some very exciting news – Jolkona Foundation has oficially been approved as a 501(c)3 organization. This means that going forward all of the donations that we receive from you will be eligible for tax-exemptions. Even more importantly – every donation we have received so far is also eligible for tax-exemptions now. 🙂 The 501(c)3 status will also allow us to be eligible for matching programs at various corporations.

We were expecting this approval to come around April or May of 2008. Of course it is very exciting that we have received the approval within 4 months of our application (usually it takes 8 – 10 months), but, it also means that our plans have to be adjusted too. For example, we were expecting to launch our website after getting the approval, but, now we are scrambling to get it launched as quickly as possible.

Again, we are very excited with the news and are looking forward to the challenges of the next few weeks.

We were able to raise about $3,000 in approximately 10 days. Here is a breakdown of Jolkona Foundation’s relief efforts:

  • We distributed 561 blankets to help the survivors cope with the winter.
  • We provided 460 loaves of bread and 300 packets of cheera and ghur.
  • We gave out thousands of water purifying tablets, as well as other medications.
  • More than 300 families (i.e. more than 1300 individuals) directly received some relief supplies.
  • We built 8 tubewells (also known as bore holes and waterwells) and hence, providing whole villages access to clean drinking water. These tubewells will have direct long term effects on the villages.

We had initially set a target of raising $2,000. We are ecstatic to raise $3,000, but we are even more excited to see the impact that a mere $3,000 had on hundreds of families.

As we mentioned in the previous post, here are some pictures from our relief efforts –

We are really looking forward to bring more high-impact projects to our users and seeing the continued impact that our donors have around the world!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Bangladesh to help with Jolkona Foundation’s relief efforts in Bangladesh. You might remember that we had a goal to raise $2000 to help with our relief efforts. We are extremely proud to say that we were able to actually collect over $2500 with the help of all of our supporters!!! I will post more details soon about the exact amounts we collected and what sort of impact we were able to make with that.

I wanted to write a brief post about my overall experience – probably the most inspirational day of my life. After driving for 8 hours from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh we finally reached a remote village near the coast of Bangladesh which had been devastated by the cyclone. It had been 3 weeks since the cyclone struck and even after 3 weeks of incessant cleanup work, one could still see plenty of fallen trees everywhere. These trees that were completely uprooted, are proof of the cyclone’s power of destruction. Once we got to the village itself we spoke with the locals and heard stories that completely astonished us. I remember talking to one guy who had about 10 to15 people in his family. I found out that he did not leave his home after the warnings and instead huddled in a corner of the house accepting death should it come. He mentioned that the closest cyclone shelter was over 1 Km away and that even if they were to survive and leave their home, they would have nothing since their whole life’s earnings was in that home. Aside from the many stories like that, 80% of the village’s rice fields have been wiped out, children are without any clothes and shoes (in winter) because the winds took everything, from the roofs on people’s homes to all of their belongings and on and on… No matter how much TV you watch, you never know the true damage until you visit the area yourself. After this visit, I am convinced that is true for any natural disaster!

We were able to give out a lot with all of the money that was donated, but it still was not enough at all. Every one of the 33 families in that village got something from us which they were all extremely grateful for. We even provided some relief materials to the surrounding areas as much as we could. As individuals picked up their relief goods, they were shocked and grateful for what they received. One of the most touching things that happened to me was the extreme generosity these people had despite having almost nothing. When we arrived to the village, amidst their chaos, one of the families had prepared lunch for us to thank us for our efforts. They had cooked up some really good chicken – a meal that was probably better than anything they had in 3 weeks. I am still in shock about the giving nature of people who have so little, but am excited to be able to provide the opportunity through Jolkona Foundation to allow those of us that do have money to give, to be able to do so in a meaningful way.

In an upcoming post, we will give details of all the items that we distributed and its impact. This was the 1st project for Jolkona Foundation and something we are very proud of. However, that excitement was overshadowed by how much more these people needed and how our efforts seemed so little compared to the destruction in that country.

Before I close out the blog, I really have to thank all the generosity shown by individuals who stepped up and donated to our drive. Your generosity really had profound impact on these people.

I have put up some of the photos from our visit on FlickR and you can get to them from this URL –

Although Jolkona Foundation is still patiently awaiting its 501(c)3 approval, we at Jolkona are not sitting around. Aside from our cyclone efforts, we are fundraising, building the website, and most importantly forging partnerships. We are excited and lucky to say that one of our partnerships is with an incredible non-profit called Machik that is doing AMAZING work in the rural villages of Tibet. This weekend I was fortunate enough to meet with the directors and supporters of Machik in Washington DC, at their first annual Donor/Partner Weekend retreat.

One of the many things Machik has done is to create the best primary school in a small Tibetan village called Chungba. Over the years, their school has outperformed the other schools in the area, and recently the local government decided that Machik’s primary school should be the model for all schools in the area. It was so inspiring to celebrate this huge milestone with Machik and its supporters and it really goes to show how ordinary people can truly accomplish extraordinary things with the help of just a few people who believe in making a difference.

What I really took back from this experience is that making an impact even in a small way can lead to huge changes for society, which Machik exemplifies through its one initial primary school that impacted only one village but that will now be scaled up to impact the entire region! This is exactly why we decided to start Jolkona Foundation, because we believe that making small meaningful changes that improve individual productivity, can eventually lead to HUGE changes in the world as they get scaled up. So without going into too much detail about my trip, we are VERY excited to be able to create something that will allow our users to do exactly that, make small impacts around the world that we hope will scale up in a way that will really change this world! We hope that you all believe that too and that you will help support us in our endeavors!

You can visit the Machik website to learn more about what they are doing. I definitely encourage you to do so, if you have time!