YoGift in India

YoGift reached a milestone earlier this year when a couple of us were lucky enough to visit our first grass roots partner, Harmony House, as part of a holiday trip to India earlier this year.  Harmony House is situated just outside Delhi in an area called Gurgaon, or Gurugram as it is often known and it is intentionally located next to a large slum area, where most of its children live.  It’s a children’s day centre in India, taking in over 1000 children from a nearby slum.  The need on the ground in India was brought home to us in full and vibrant colour as we witnessed first-hand the effects of our fundraising.

Harmony House is a day-care shelter for children, supporting them in education, nutrition, healthcare, well-being, vocational training, planning and placement for employment and careers.

The strapline for Harmony House is ‘Where hope resides’ and the first thing that hits you when you walk through its doors is that hope not only resides here, it overflows. As a visitor it soaks into every cell of your body and every corner of your heart.  These are not just words on a website.  These are words in action.  Once you get there, it’s a place that’s hard to leave.  Its spirit, its people and its community embed themselves deep into your soul.  To say that the whole place was inspirational seems like such an understatement and we need to find a bigger word.

If you’ve ever been to India you will know that as a holiday destination it gives so much, but it asks a lot in return too.  It’s not always the easiest place to be, but Harmony House was a total contrast to this.  It was a place of calm, of light, of inspiration and of wonder and we would have moved in permanently if we could!

We were lucky enough to spend two days there and extra fortunate to meet with the founder Lucy Bruce, who just happened to be on one of her monthly visits.  The welcome at Harmony House was warmer than the Delhi sunshine and Lucy captured this to perfection and captivated us immediately.  Plus, our timing was impeccable, lunchtime, and Lucy immediately invited us to sit with her and eat. The food was a wonderful selection of daals, rotis, pickles and yoghurt, prepared by some of the  family members from the nearby slum, many of whom are employed around the centre.  This sense of community confirmed the perfect partnership with YoGift, – as essentially, we came together as a friendship community to support children in poverty in India and many of our fundraising efforts and events focus on building friendship and community as well as raising money.

Lucy explained to us how she started Harmony House over 14 years ago and many of the team that we met during our visit have been there since the beginning. The initial idea was simply to provide food for children from the nearby slum area. `Lucy’s motivation had come from taking holidays in India, visiting family there and being deeply disturbed by the extreme poverty she saw around her. Although the first idea was to provide food, she quickly realised that education was desperately needed. Her plan moved on to provide schooling for girls, then one day a couple of boys knocked on the door and she took them in, which is how the centre became coeducational!

To start with funding was provided by friends and family, but over time Lucy has led Harmony House on a journey to becoming a well organised, well respected community centre working with funding partners such as YoGift to give children the hope of a bright future.  Since its early days it has taken in over 4000 children, over 110 of its children have gone on to higher education, 20 have opened their own business, 140 have received scholarships to private schools – all from a standing start back in 2009/2010.

When YoGift started to support Harmony House it took in 700 children a day from the slum.  It now takes in over 1000 children every day, but despite its atmosphere of peace and calm Harmony House doesn’t stand still.

We visited the recently added special education needs centre, where a small number of children were receiving specialist 121 treatment from physiotherapists, speech therapists and sign language teachers.   We also met the newly appointed full-time sports teacher, working out of a small outdoor space, immediately across from where a new sports facility is being built.  Lucy explained that she plans to open this up to the whole community and not just the children.  The wellbeing effect the team has witnessed since providing sports classes was enormous.  They even have a Harmony House pupil on the Delhi junior cricket team!


These are not the only big developments.  Lucy showed us a building site where a new space is being developed to take an extra 200 children.  This should be ready around April/May time and is without doubt going to be full on its first day.  The waiting list is huge, around 1500.  This was brought home to us when we walked around the slum area next to Harmony House.  People were coming up to us asking when their children could come to Harmony House.  One small boy, dressed in a red sweater, clung to us, asking when he could come.  It was hard to leave him and my hope and wish is that he will be among the lucky ones who can go to Harmony House in April.

To be invited to accompany a Harmony House teacher on a visit to the nearby slum was a special experience.  Harmony House has outreach workers who liaise regularly with families living in the slum, however, many of the teaching team are regular visitors too.  As we walked around and met people we were welcomed warmly, we were offered tea or coffee and greeted with wide smiles and a cheerful ‘good afternoon, how are you?’.  Seen through our eyes the living conditions were challenging and afterwards, in the comfort of our hotel room, we asked ourselves if we could have spent a night there.  After thinking long and hard we had to say no, though the wonderful welcome and wide smiles would have helped.  Living conditions were cramped and basic, in some cases family members would sleep outside, because there simply wasn’t enough room inside.  Living, eating and sleeping all happens in one tiny space.  Washing and toilet facilities were separate and communal, with little privacy and water that looked questionable. Up until Autumn last year this was also the source of drinking water too.  Fortunately, Harmony House had sufficient funds to install water filters in the slum area at the end of the year, giving access to clean and safe drinking water for the first time.   Whilst we were walking around quite a few people came up to the Harmony House teacher we were with to thank her and Harmony House for the clean drinking water supply.  In parts there were open sewers.  It was dry and 20 degrees when we visited, but it’s hard to think what it would be like in heavy rain.  It’s also difficult to imagine how you would handle seasonal changes in these living conditions, bearing in mind that temperatures in Delhi can drop as low as 5 degrees in Winter then rise to the late 40s in Summer.

If we had needed motivation to continue with our fundraising at YoGift then we certainly got it during our two days at Harmony House.  The commitment, drive and energy of the whole Harmony House team was infectious and even though they have achieved so much already they are not stopping any time soon.  And of course, the more children they take every day, the more money it costs to provide food, education, medical care, dental care and other services.  To give an idea of some of the costs involved and what YoGift funds can buy the sum of £20 will buy stationery and books for one child for a whole year.   About £450 month will provide two additional IT teachers (we visited the IT room by the way, it was brilliant!), £400 a month will provide a teacher, some materials and sewing machines to increase the number of tailoring courses.

YoGift – the future

For YoGift the story doesn’t end with Harmony House.  As our fundraising grows we hope our grassroots partners will also grow in numbers and that Harmony House will be the first of many delivery partners for YoGift.  We did manage to visit other sites in India as well.  We were excited and honoured to be asked to join a brand-new grassroots charity on its first visit to a slum area in Vrindavon.  This was the very first outing for this new organisation and the plan was to provide teaching, then food in a small government designated below poverty line area.   We set ourselves up in a small building in the area and within minutes of arriving we had a room full of children, a mixed age group and none of them had ever received any education before.  We were overwhelmed at how wonderful they were, how keen they were to be there and how quick to learn.  We ran through some introductory alphabet and counting work with them.  We then helped the organisation as it served food to approximately 300 people.  To be a part of this new charity and to attend its first ever event was the best day for us and must have been similar to how it was for Harmony House 14 or 15 years ago when it started.  Watch this space for more details as this new Vrindavon based organisation completes the process to become a fully recognised charity – we’’ll keep you posted.

YoGift – can you help?

At YoGift we would absolutely love some help and the good news is that there are lots of ways that you can be part of the YoGift community and help support children in poverty in India.

This is how you can help us to support children in poverty in India now


Make a donation now – either through https://www.givey.com/yogift

 or direct into our bank account – Account name: YoGift (business/charity a/c) 
Sort code: 08-92-99 A/c no:67242911 

Or visit our website at www.yogift.org
Thank you!



Set up a regular donation – just contact your bank to set up a monthly direct debit/standing order to : YoGift (business/charity a/c) Sort code: 08-92-99 A/c no:67242911

Thank you!


Hold a fundraising event, yoga class, exercise class, bike ride, walk, trek, bake sale, birthday party – anything – and send the proceeds to YoGift – email us hello@yogift.org and we will send you a fundraising pack.  A great way to have fun with friends, family, colleagues and support children in poverty in India at the same time.

Thank you!


Display our posters/contact details in your shop, workplace, studio – email us at hello@yogift.org and we will send you some information.

Thank you!


 Give YoGift donation vouchers as a gift – it can sometimes be really difficult to come up with new and creative gift ideas – you could make a donation to YoGift as a gift for a loved one on a special occasion – simply drop us a quick email, hello@yogift.org and we will send you a voucher that you can give to your loved one to say you have donated on their behalf.

Thank you!


Join us in our own YoGift led fundraising events – we hold yoga raves, walks and treks, cycle rides and online yoga classes – all to raise vital funds for YoGift as well as having fun, getting together, meeting new people and creating community.   Check our website – www.yogift.org for dates and details – or email us at hello@yogift.org

Thank you!


Volunteer with us! We’re always looking for help with social media, event planning, all kinds of things!! If you would like to help please contact us on hello@yogift.org and we’ll talk!!!

Thank you!