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Devendra Shivlal Desai, Founder at Children Toy Foundation ( NGO )

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the NGO?

Devendra Shivlal Desai : I wanted to play a game of checkers with my neighbor friend when I was 8. I could not find my board. My mom was making chapattis. I pulled her saree and cried to get me the game. She went down and bought me the game. I played. Enjoyed. That moment at that age was deeply rooted in my heart. I wanted to do something 'JARA HATKE'.While doing social work I came across Chacha Nehru Toy Library. Being chess buff was fascinated with different type of games using different skills like memory, strategy, creativity, logic etc.

Also noticed that since there were just one library enthusiast’s parents were to come from distant places just for one toy once a week.In surrounding area and near my office lot of street children were loitering doing nothing so thought of inviting them to the library and after building rapport with them and streamline them to join nearby schools. That time nobody was ready to put up an institute to work for toy/game library priojects. All above factors prompted me to create such play facilities wherever possible and created Children Toy Foundation, the institute through which I could take the idea further.

Great Companies: What are the various activities done by Children Toy Foundation ( NGO )

Devendra Shivlal Desai :

1)Establish/help to set up toy/game libraries: The Foundation helps those aspiring to set up toy/game library by guiding them from moment of conception to moment of delivery. To begin with, it advises on what to buy, where to buy and why to buy. We help them to acquire toys/games at concessional rates. Then we provide the necessary training to a core group of volunteers on how to run the library in professional fashion. Wherever/ whenever possible, we guide them in raising funds from individual philanthropists, charitable trusts, social organisations, etc. so that the library is in sound footing. Libraries can boast of multifarious variety. We helped put up libraries in orphanages, schools, NGOs, hospitals and even in jails and deserts.We want to see that libraries are not just renting libraries but like a play centre blooming with different activities like our Khelvigyan project described below. It can be a place of attraction also for visitors/tourists.

2)To Establish & run Static/Mobile Khelvigyan projects: Khelvigyan is our original Made in India project-an extension of toy library project and can scale up to all India level, also up to international fun & mind games event if all capitalists and other stakeholders support. As the name suggests play helps in holistic, scientific development of a child. Toys play a significant role in growth of a child right when he starts learning to walk with the help of a walker to when he starts thinking about all aspects/situations while playing a game like chess.The idea being based on the concept of ‘learns while you play’ we have added programmes to inculcate art and skill. This involves storytelling, puppetry, craft, drawing drama besides G.K.and curriculum-based games and activities.Centres operate in such a way that every class gets one hour of playtime twice a week. On sponsor’s choice, the number of visits is decided. The centre has well equipped library and trained teachers to impart necessary skill to the students. Each teacher is in charge of 8-10 students to look after the progress of the squad. In limited times of interactions with children we have achieved good results.

3)Revive old games and develop new ones: Like Bhule Bisre geet(songs), we revive old games and with our experience we device new games and new ideas. We have created games like Be 2nd to be 1st, based on our concept Guru Bina Gyan Nahin,perhaps it is the only game in the world where player who manages to remain second wins the game. Little Maths Master- a verbal maths game. Chess ‘O’ 64- with unique 64 playing card through which umpteen skilled games can be played. Musical Housie with a twist. Etc.

4)We also arrange Inter school, Inter College and family contests in fun & mind games.Children love nothing better than doing something on their own. There is nothing more fulfilling than moving forwards at one’s own initiative a drive. On the spot Games Contest is aimed at testing the skill, grasping power, instant judging and planning capacity of the young participants. The Contest, a distinguishing feature of the CHILDREN TOY FOUNDATION, has caught the imagination of people, both children and adults alike. The idea behind the contest is to generate the maximum amount of joy among the largest number of children (Which includes those who are children at heart). As an experiment, it has never failed to give a foretaste of the wonder world of toys/ games, which is normally beyond the reach of the middle and poor class of children. As the means to an end, the contest has invariably proved to be the forerunner of a fresh string of libraries / play centres which people were provoked to set up following the whetting of appetite at the contest. The games to be played are not declared in advance. They are announced just half- an- hour before the contest begins. The Element of secrecy and surprise adds flavor to the proceedings, making the actual contest a delight to watch. And the effort has always proved to be more than worth if, both in terms of intellectual delight and competitive laurels. The CONTEST provides access to a variety of games, involving children physically as well as mentally. Educational games that teach alphabets and word – building, numbers find shapes and colors, engineering skills and perceptive power, creative game that promote artistic and mechanical skills, strategy games that enhance logical and analytical powers, and help develop concentration and memory; puzzles that have the power of observation, strengthen one’s determination and boost one’s confidence the rang is unlimited and the satisfaction derived has no ceiling. Alongside, the contest has a fun games corner worked out on two principles: - one what is sauce for the goose need not be sauce for the gander, two, there is more to play than an intellectual bent of mind.We have won International acclaim on our above concept of International Olympics in fun & mind games. We feature in Limca Book of Records for our unique feat. We have got many such awards and certificates.

5)We donate few games and toys to slums and street children from time to time.

6)Now we do online activities like Kraft, stories, puppetry, game designing etc with children. All our programmes are based on our vision No child should be deprived of toys, childhood pleasure and learning tool. Motto Play together, Stay together.

Great Companies: What makes Children Toy Foundation ( NGO ) different from hundreds of other NGOs?

Devendra Shivlal Desai :

Children Toy Foundation was established in 1982 and registered in 1984. Children Toy Foundation ‘s Toy Story is Unique, Nothing like Anything. Something different, ahead of time. We add life into the years of CHILDHOOD. In Children Toy Foundation C=Creative, T=Time and F=Fun. At Foundation children have creative time & fun.

Our aim is to educate children beyond reading and writing, so as to help them acquire real skills and develop positive attitudes in their life to instil a sense of pride in them and further boost their confidence. For this we use the potential force of toys and games to mould the character and temperament of the young ones and hone their latent talents.Games give training in life skills such as decision making, time management, negotiation, critical thinking and leadership.One of the best dimensions of new-found freedom can be play-a language everyone understands, unmindful of political borders, racial differences, linguistic divides, ethnic considerations. Human contact is the name of the new game, and bridging the gaps between peoples, regions, languages, cultures and hearts, the new strategy. CHILDREN TOY FOUNDATION hopes to achieve this at both national and international levels. Articles 31 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the child reads: “The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education. Society and public authorities shall endeavour to promote the enjoyment of this Right.” Unfortunately, most people tend to look upon toys and games as kid-stuff. They do not realize that play is a means of learning to live, not a way of passing the time. CHILDREN TOY FOUNDATION aims at destroying this myth.

Toys and games not only amuse children, but also stir their imagination,stimulate creative instinct and spontaneous thinking.They also sharpen the child’s reasoning,enlarge/his/her vision,encourage free flow of thoughts,improve observation power and concentration.Some toys and games test speed and perception.Some others teach discipline,honesty,truth, courage etc;and develop the spirit of co-operative competitiveness.Till the human society realizes this basic truth,it will remain incomplete.CHILDREN TOY FOUNDATION intends filling this void.

On Children’s day-1986,the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development launched Toy Bank, a unique programme under the Integrated Child Development Scheme.Its theme was ‘Give a toy,share ajoy’ . But, much before Delhi came up with its brain child, a Bombay –based(CTF) organization had launched a toy movement.

Deepak Rao Moodbidri.Indian Express-29th July 1989. A Marathi writer wrote Toy library? Mr. Desai’s mind and body needs to be checked?! Everybody talks of Right of the child to education but nobody talks of right of the child to play which is natural source of a child;s growth.We have been working on the Right of the Child to Play since 1982 honouring UNOs article 31 on Right of the child to play and recreation signed by our Government but practically nothing is done. Wer have helped established 350 toy/game libraries covering 14 states and 3 Union territories. World Toy Industry is 1.7 billion dollars .Our contribution hardly 5 to 10%.We are struggling to see that under Government planning commission toy library scheme is well funded so if 6000+ villages gets a library,toy and allied industries will get a major boost and lots of foreign exchange can be saved. Two international organisastions viz. International Association for Right of the Child to Play( IPA)and International Toy Library Asssociation(ITLA) have lauded our work on right of the child to play and idea of International Children’s Olympics in Fun & Mind Games. A man’s life is full of struggle and hardship.There are organisations working on health,religion,food etc but we work to see the smiles on the faces of future citizens which is the biggest award for us. In class room one has to use brain in trained/identical manner whereas games allow to use your brain in the manner you think and bring out the best in you. Class room makes the child silent whereas games allow to mingle with each other, shout and express their feelings. At the time of earthquake in Latur dist. Maharastra,at the time of Tsunami we created play centers in Chennai which was a big boost for children to join school or study with NGOs working there. Also 12th pass candidates can very well work after training for our projects so those who have to leave studies after 1oth ,12th can also get jobs. Our driver is also trained so after parking the van he becomes educator.

Now there are few NGOS who are working to establish such libraries and many more NGOS are setting up such facilities. After we donated a library to Klorfeel Foundation,Orissa,under our guidance they have created 8 such centers recently. We are trying to explore biggest gift of GOD-PLAY-JOY OF LIVING WHICH PERHAPS MAKES US DIFFERENT

Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?

Devendra Shivlal Desai :

Challenge 1

One of the biggest challenge faced by Children Toy Foundation was that to convince the municipal schools and Government regarding Khelvigyan project because it was an unique project and there was no concrete data on which we could establish the impact this project will have either on children or on educational system.

Lessons Learnt

It is very important to have a statistical tool in order to convince the person in front to prove the viability of the project. Now we have full details of beneficiaries and 3 studies done by SNDT Students and a third party evaluation done by Tech Mahindra Foundation.

Challenge 2

To arrange funds for various project undertaken by the organization from corporate

Lessons Learnt

The corporate although contributing for a social cause do not leave their business minded approach and here to want to invest in a place which ensures the maximum return in a sense either publicity or service to a larger community or greater impact on society and so on. It is just like calculating profits before doing the work ,just like they set target for themselves. Hence it is always an advantage to have viable results in hand as well as the mindset of a corporate in order to convince them that the money spent in the project is investment in future(children).

Challenge 3

The finances of an NGO are directly affected by the market.During the recession period it was difficult to convince the sponsor to continue supporting the organisation and although for a short period of time various projects were continued without funds.

Lessons Learnt

It is very important to create a substantial contingency fund in order to support the projects during difficult times as this not only helps in sustaining the project but also in a way assist the sponsors be relieving them Temporarily in the time of need which helps in strengthening the relationship in long term. It is also better to look for sponsors even if funds available is sufficient as the additional money can be used for expansion. improvement and contingency. This is true in current time also.

Challenge 4

Finding good staff and training them for a long-term association

Lessons Learnt

Instill a sense of social responsibility among the staff and make them feel the good work they are doing. The staff in a social organization is irreplaceable and hence should be treated as the most valuable asset of the organization. We appraise their work time and again and reward their work.

Challenge 5

To attract qualified graduate candidates as we are an NGO and they look for job security

Lesson Learnt

Try to see that our project fits into Government schemes and work in partnership with Government. It will be a permanent project if it is built in curriculum. It is possible also if we take out 5 minutes per period i.e. 5x7=35 minutes a day and 35x7=245 minutes a week and utilize it for creative and entertaining play activities.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Children Toy Foundation ( NGO )?

Devendra Shivlal Desai : PLAY IS ETERNAL. Play has no boundaries. We have helped and guided to set up 350 toy/game libraries but sky is the limit. We serve 9000+ children through our static and mobile Khelvigyan project in schools,orphanages,villages etc and many more through existing net work of toy/game libraries. We aim to see that toy libraries grow like mushrooms and no child is deprived of toys ,childhood pleasure and learning tool. For this Sab Ka SAATH and sab ka PRAYAS is needed. We will take help of Government,Cos,NGOs,volunteers,toy Industries,educationists and make it a big movement. Immediately we are planning out 37 mind and educational games libraries to cover 37 states and U.T.s .We want to make it a grand event in a way that all libraries will,be inaugurated same day same time which will catch attraction of media,Government,and all stakeholders and hopefully purpose will be served. Also we want to plan National and international contest in fun & mind games which can grow into international Olympics for children , the idea we gave into a play summit and was lauded by all countries present.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it


Devendra Shivlal Desai : I propose:

  • Yong men are fitter to invent than to judge;

  • Fitter for execution than for counsel;

  • Fitter for newer projects;

  • Than for settled business

Dedication, hard work, determination should be your assets. Never let down your guard, never compromise. Sow good seeds and you will reap rich dividends.

Stay safe from all temptations of life and be prepared to serve Matrubhumi. (motherland).



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