In the year 1996 Amlan with 4 of his friends started Prayasam. The main urge was to fruitfully utilize their ME time to WE time. The organization focused on one day event like cultural soiree to aware the people of the condition of the hard hit children.
3 areas were identified. Namely, Polenite, Garpar and Rishi Aurobindo Colony. And Prayasam volunteers used to look after the after school tuitions of the children residing in those areas. With yearly Cultural events they used to collect money to buy stationery for them.
In one of such cultural events Prayasam suffered a huge loss. And Prayasam was in debts. It was in the year 1997. Amlan started planning events which will involve practically no money but there will be more visibility and contacted a big Media house and shared his vision and strategy for the future. The Newspaper came up with a BIG story and volunteers started pouring in from every nook and corner of West Bengal and Kolkata. Prayasam started taking fees from the volunteers to run the show. There were more than 75 volunteers, who joined to work with Prayasam. Mostly, college students.
During this time Amlan planned various innovative Cultural Events laced with Child Right’s philosophy, like Mayor For A Day, Matamat.Com, Kalker Jonno Aajker Bhabna, Paye Paye Kolkata, Hater Muthoy Feluda Topshe Sangay Niye Baksho Rohoshyo, Jal Dao Amar Shikode, Kanvas Kolkata, Dadu Dimmar Din, Rock for the Young 60s, and many more. The Media went berserk and Prayasam was touted as the platform where healthy entertainment (Prayasam liked to call it EDUTAINMENT) could be found.
Around this time 1999-2000, Prayasam decided to work only in Rishi Aurobindo Colony (R.A.C.) as the other 2 colonies were more interested in charitable support. And due to eviction threats the Garpar residents were migrating from that area. Around this time Amlan started organizing children of R.A.C. And developed a unique model of child-led activism in which the children of slum areas act as change agents by forming groups and spreading awareness on health, hygiene and sanitation within their community. Amlan and his organization Prayasam support these “area health minders” by providing information and first aid training, creating educational materials, and helping them to become real advocates for their cause.
For the first time Prayasam started employing Development Workers. The Volunteers including Amlan who were devoting his full-time at Prayasam were offered part time jobs. The Children were roped in as Board Members in Prayasam’s Governing Council. We started the process of Appraisal as well as a clear cut organogram was developed. And we initiated our first Project, Sahaj Path (Easy Learning) for the 3 to 6 year age group focusing on school preparedness.
In the year 2000 Amlan started his first Dance Studio in Arjunpur Club near DumDum with 30 girls, who were touted as Ahlladi…the cherished ones. And they started developing issue based Dance Productions, like Intezar, Deyala, Sonar Harin Chai, Bhoomisuta, and others. We have found one of our supporters, Studio Print Art, who sponsored our events and was always beside us. We got the patronage of Shanu Lahiri, the Art Educator and Painter. Visual Art Department of Rabindra Bharati University started working with us.
Though Amlan had the vision to see the future the rest of the 4 at that point of time thought it would be beneficial to concentrate more on their individual career rather than making a career out of this organization.