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Social Responsibilities

Spreading Goodness: Focusing on what matters

What is the first image that flashes your mind when you think of a traffic signal stoppage anywhere in India, the little boys and girls carrying flowers, dusters, brushes, balloons and toys? Have you ever stopped to address them like you would any other child, maybe she’s not trying to sell you anything, maybe she’s just trying to catch your attention. Maybe we need to see her as the child she is and not the beggar we try to banish.

Banishing them will not really rid our country of this widespread evil. It’s not a childhood any child deserves or chooses. But yes, you can get rid of beggary by holding onto that hand, looking into his eyes and giving him the dignity as you would like to be given yourself. Your precious 2 minutes will not upturn the world for you, but yes, it will have world-altering effect on him. You could be the happy memory in someone’s childhood. Sneha Singh spreads smiles and captures them in her camera, she forms a bond with them with a few kind words and sometimes that’s all they need.

If you know someone like her, please tell us about them at #SpreadingGoodness.

Specially Abled

Pole star in the fog – Naziya Bano

Moved by the helplessness of her visually-challenged nephew, Naziya Bano, a resident of Bandipora district in Kashmir, self-trained herself on Braille, to be the trailblazer of differently-abled children in her region.

“There’s no time for family and I don’t even think about them when I am with these children, they so completely absorb me. My nephew, Zufair Ahmad, introduced me to this world which was impenetrable for him and us alike. My father and us resigned to the will of God and vowed to love Zufair like almighty’s special gift. We realized that Zufair was blind when he was just 3 months old, we later realized that it wasn’t the only think that inhibited him, he was also mentally challenged. He wasn’t special for nothing, he is interested in life like all other children and since I was the one he was closest to, I was the one who had to set things right, I had to make his world whole since I was the only one who was educated in my family of six”, reminisces Naziya.

Walking the path less trodden to pave the way for others
She turned her back on her promising career so she could be the guiding light in the life of special children that were not even considered worthy of an equal chance. It affected her immensely to see her nephew grapple with the world around as his disabilities were limiting him largely due to the unavailability of facilities for the differently-abled in their district. She was aware of this general lack of apathy towards the special children as there is just one school for the blind in Srinagar, the capital of the state, which was physically unapproachable for most of the districts.

Fortunately an organization, conducting a survey in their district, extended their help to educate her nephew. This new orientation to his world inspired Naziya to learn Braille system so that she could devote more time than the school could. His needs required dedicated effort and this opened “my eyes to the world of so many like him who were not as lucky as Zufai”. Some of the parents were reluctant to send their children to schools or were scared of letting them out for more hurt as they were highly vulnerable. Some other parents could not afford the time or means of bringing their children to these schools, much against their hearts’ desire.

Education at any cost
Atuned to this misery, Naziya decided to spread the light to others like him and she was determined to make them self dependent and get them an equal footing with other children. One of the children she discovered was an orphan and also severely discriminated against and thrust into child labour by his guardians. This was her most severe struggle as she had to visit the particular household 10 times before she was actually allowed to speak to the child. Naziya discovered a real gem in Jamil and for the child she was the only ray of hope. The child today is a class topper and the school is now finding it harder to find a writer for him to match his caliber and speed. Jamil, jokingly says he is 4G ( fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology) and is aspiring to be 5G to be ahead of times.

Her vision soars high
Naziya is emboldened by a recent news story as a blind student in Pakistan qualified as a doctor and this gave further air to her flight and to her determination of taking her students to further heights. Not only does Naziya labour hard physically and mentally and also emotionally extending herself, but she organizes regular awareness camps at colleges and universities to educate the differently-abled children and their guardians and the need for better infrastructure and provision for the special children. Shaukat, one of her pupils is low on immunity and frequently falls sick. Naziya supports his treatment costs too. Naziya does not limit herself to blind children but educates deaf and mute children as well, she taught herself sign language from Youtube, how far would you go to help others?

Endurance in the face of abject intolerance
“Somethings bother me sometimes, when I am fundraising some people treat us like beggars but I treat all donors alike, whether they contribute 5 rupees or 500 rupees. My strength and sustenance comes from my family who cooperate unfailingly with means and moral support as I keep shuttling between 3 districts to cater to all the 20 children that need me.” Naziya admits that it was difficult at first as she shuttled nomadically from one door to another seeking out the children who needed her but her good work and sincere effort appealed to people in due course of time. Today she has another volunteer who helps her and even her niece is learning the skills to support her.

It’s been 5 years now since she illuminated the path for many Zufairs. Her world is “full of ayes and nayes, but she deals with it all with her “extreme tolerance”.

Education

Because goodness has no limits of Gunjan Ladies Club

What generally happens at a ladies club? Kitty parties, tambola, food festivals? Not this one, this one is not an exclusive space for the elite.

They say you can choose your friends but not your family, Gunjan Ladies Club chose their family by embracing their whole community. This club’s multidimensional programmes focus on education, health, computer literacy, sports, nutrition and general welfare of the dexterous support staff that keeps the wheel of their homes going round.

If the colossal degradation of life around you does not bother you then you are either too busy or you are in denial or worse, you are stricken yourself. There is misery all around us and the authorities have too much on their hands to address the issues of all 1.4 billion people of India. All around you is a blanket of unemployment, ignorance, malnourishment, illiteracy, ill clad or simply sick people. There is a lot that needs to be done, a lot that can be done, and what gives you hope is that quite a bit is being done, even if in pockets, by the unspoken heroes amongst us, one such team is that of Gunjan Ladies Club in Vasant Kunj, Delhi

Club- not an exclusive space for the elite
This team here of ladies from all walks of life and in all stages of time did not choose any one particular cause, and they did not limit themselves to any one cause, if it were food that one wanted, they served it in a platter, or education that they saw a dearth of, they created classrooms and took to the chalk and board. They adopted the entire community around them as theirs and they did not limit themselves to occasional mercies but have ensured sustained facilitation for the last 2 decades. During this period their club has grown, their circle of beneficiaries have grown and so has their realm of goodness – whether it is distributing food to the street dwellers outside AIIMs or Safdarjung hospitals that most of us pass by every single day, or shielding them against the harsh cold of the Delhi winters while we are snug in the comfort of our homes.

They have gone a long way in making goodness a way of life and their patrons and beneficiaries don’t feel like outsiders in any way, whether it is Kalavati Mishra who is a home help and has received every aid in the bringing up her children or projecting a better future for them and also arranging for their weddings. Under their umbrella of project help, it works as efficiently as any corporate machinery with subdivisions by projects like Food for Hungry, A Meal a Day, education, physical well-bring, compensated with the highly motivating perks and benefits of love and satisfaction. Gunjan Ladies club focuses on the holistic development of the children and does not limit them to skills for employability ensuring that their childhood is just as much fun as it should be for any child and motivating them for overall development in fields of sports and arts.

Not just a lifeline but quality of life
Project help was a brain child of Dr. Neeraj who oozes warmth and friendliness, and goodness of course is infectious, as the club has today attracted about 80 ladies who are seamlessly running the multiple projects of societal care. Dr. Neeraj started on this road of transformation in 1982 when she came across a destitute who was subjected to domestic violence daily and that affected her gravely and jerked Dr. Neeraj into action. The team has been very effective in counseling the residents of Rangpuri Pahadi in Vasant Kunj to keep their environs and homes clean and focus on getting skilled to change their way of life. The funds for all the 37 projects under Gunjan Ladies Club are self funded, every member sincerely contributes to the initiative in cash and kind, cooking themselves and going out to feed the hungry, offering sponsorship for higher education, personality development. Ms. Preeti Goel helps with grooming the children with basic practical skills like sewing which could afford them alternative income options at any point in life. Ms. Jyoti Verma finds immense satisfaction in cooking herself whether it is for a handful of people or for a battalion. The club also trains the children with technical classes of information technology to ensure they face no technical impediments tomorrow.

The veterans of the club like Ms. Rosy Chawla, Ms. Asha Gupta, Ms. Shashi Batra, Ms. Mukta Jindal and countless other express their vision of empowering these less-privileged extended family and believe that even if they can change a few people’s lives for the better it will be a huge achievement and they take great pride when their pupils score higher grades despite their limited means. It gives them immense pleasure to be able to contribute to fortify the country with better skills and better humans. One theme that echoed as we spoke to the various members of the club was that celebration of life is in sharing with all others irrespective of and beyond any prejudices. This unrecognized labour force, such as maids, guards, launderers do not have the social security that most of us do and they have nowhere to go. As such can we shun them or should we care for them to create that endless ripple called goodness.

If you know someone like them tell us at #SpreadingGoodness

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