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Philanthropy Spotlight: India – The Great Before & After

Concepts is in the business of the before & after. We've produced hundreds of commercials and infomercials where we showcase the success stories from our products. Those before & afters tell the personal story of that product. For example, a new mother who lost the baby weight using one of our fitness programs or perhaps how a couple reignited their relationship through weight loss. But what about when the team at Concepts undergoes an entire before & after? Well, that happened when Concepts traveled to India to shoot a pro-bono advertisement for a girls school.

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Concepts is not only in the business of direct marketing, but we are strong believers in education and philanthropy. When we decided to fly a crew of 6 over to India to film an advertisement for The Kripalu School, a girls school in India. During our time in India, we had high hopes of creating change in the world. After all, education The Kripalu School is solely donation-funded and completely free for students to attend, positioning itself as a complete game changer in education in India. While creating video content to fundraise the school, we didn't expect that we would undergo such a strong before & after. We went over to India to change lives, and in turn, our lives were forever changed.

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Jon Calderaro, Senior Producer at Concepts, was grateful for the opportunity to bring light and awareness to such hard working women. He said, "I was very touched by the girls at the school and amazed at the level of commitment from the teachers and those in charge. They are amazing people that are doing their best to make a difference and from what I can see its working. I felt really blessed to have been a part of this project and I hope in some way my involvement will contribute to making a difference."

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Dana Conklin, Director of Production at Concepts, had a very personal experience while on set in India. She said, "one of the wow moments for me was when we were interviewing these young girls & we asked them what their favorite subject was, or what their favorite part of school was. This seemed to stump all of them ‚Äì no one had an answer. It wasn’t until one of the older Indian women told me that these girls don’t understand those types of questions ‚Äì because they do not have choices, and do not know what it is like to have a ‚Äòfavorite’ anything. Coming from a country where dreams come true ‚Äì this was hard to process. I knew when I was younger what my favorite subject was, who my favorite teacher was, what my favorite sports was, what my favorite lunch was, who my favorite classmates were ‚Äì but most importantly, I knew I had choices and that I could be anything I wanted. I had a terrible pit in my stomach when I realized these girls don’t know what it’s like to have a choice. I hope this school not only educates them academically, but educates them worldly - giving them the choices they deserve."

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In the brutal caste system of India, too many children are left uneducated, especially the young girls. All too often, these children don't have a choice of education. For the ones that attend The Kripalu School, they are making history. For once, these children are being educated to be able to make choices for themselves.

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One of the most impactful parts for me was when we watched the school children of The Kripalu School sing together in an assembly. They were all lined up together, united, and empowered. They sang,

"May we all have pure intellect,
May we always desire to be ethical.
May we not be sad and not make others sad,
May we always have love towards all the living beings.
May we show the right direction to the one who is lost,
May we never have hatred towards anyone."

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As the schoolgirls sang in hopes of an education, in hopes of a difference in their lives, in hopes of a better future, they in turn made the greatest impact on our crew. It was a gift to be in the presence of these girls because we know that with an education from The Kripalu School, they will change their lives. We went to India wanting to make a difference and left India having all had great personal change.

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The transformation that we all went through was palpable and will forever stay with us. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about our journey and about The Kripalu School in our upcoming video.

Roamaroo travel and photography blogAll photos by Roamaroo.com

 

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Philanthropy Spotlight: Concepts TV Heads to India to Film Pro-Bono Advertisement

Most of us have seen the advertisements on TV with doe-eyed children, staring into the camera, begging for your mercy and your help. Or perhaps you’ve heard the melody of Sarah McLaughlin and the dying breeds of poverty stricken animals around the world. These stories tear at your heart and beckon your soul to make a difference in the world; but two minutes later, you change the channel and go back to your life of normality, forgetting about the less fortunate and getting caught up in your own problems. Your boss emails, your significant other calls you, and you’re back into your own world, forgetting about all of those in the world that are less fortunate.

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Having been born in America was a lucky draw of the straws. We were born with running water, a roof over our heads, access to medical help, a loving family, and most importantly, a public education system that provided free schooling. We grew up being told we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up. For so many in the world, they don’t have that luxury. They don’t even have a chance or a choice. So many young children know a future of slavery, child-marriage, and poverty. As an American, that world seemed so far away to us, until we visited the Kripalu School in Kunda, India. That visit to the Kripalu School changed the way we will look at the world forever.

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We learned of the Kripalu School through work colleagues, who spoke of a school that was changing the way women are educated in India. We put together our television production team to fly to India and film a pro-bono advertisement to raise awareness and funds for this donation-funded school in India. We knew we were going to help a worthy cause, but we didn’t realize just how much this school was changing the future of the entire Indian populations for the better. We saw firsthand that an education and only an education would provide these women the knowledge, the safety, the empowerment, and the strength to end a cycle of submissiveness and despair.

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On our plane ride to India, we were all handed local newspapers. These newspapers were filled with stories of gang rape and other horrible acts committed on women of all ages, but what was most disturbing was that many of these women were very young. Unfortunately for so many women in India, they have no chance at a future. They have no chance at fighting back. Unlike in America, all too often, a woman in India is seen as a burden and a slave. The girls in India are not told they can be anything when they grow up. All they know is that their lives will involve being married off at a young age and becoming the slave to their future in-laws. There is rarely an education, and there is almost never a choice at a future. The women in India are so often place in the position of a victim, but The Kripalu School is changing all of this, educating women to become empowered and emboldened individuals in charge of their own lives.

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The Kripalu School takes girls from the tender age of four and educates them through college at absolutely no cost to the students. Because the school is run completely on donations, students from all caste systems and all parts of rural India can attend the Kripalu School. You don’t have to be blessed from a wealthy family to earn a good education. The Kripalu School is completely free for students, which means this gives them the opportunity to learn, to live, to help themselves, and to help their families. From the core studies of math, science, and language, to vocational studies such as cosmetology and computer science, The Kripalu School provides these girls with the foundation to build a life of their own, a business of their own, and a future they can be proud of. While most girls are sold to another family or married off in their pre-teen years, The Kripalu School is changing the entire presence of women in the country of India.

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An education not only helps the individual students of the Kripalu School, but it helps their families and villages as well. One student said that the education she receives is far better than the paid schools that her brothers attend so she is able to go home and teach her brothers the subjects she learns at school. As these girls learn subjects in school and also learn the ways that women deserve to be treated, they pass along these gifts to their own families and villages. Through this education at the Kripalu School, these girls are changing the lives of future generations to come.

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For the first time, girls have aspirations of growing up to be police officers, teachers, and doctors. These girls understand the gift of education that they have been given and they want to pass it along to future generations. They are the forward change in a backwards system. The students of the Kripalu School are not only changing themselves for the better, but also changing their nation for the better.

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Stay tuned for a full fundraising video we produced on location to learn how you can change the future of India.