Weddings in India are a lavish affair. An oft-repeated complaint is the unnecessary amount of money and resources used in these events.
In a heart-warming development, however, a civil engineer from Maharashtra used his daughter’s wedding reception in Thane as an occasion to raise money for a good cause.
Rajesh Akre donated the entire Rs 5 lakh sum he collected from cash gifts received at his eldest daughter’s wedding to the Brotherhood of People Project (Lok Biradari Prakalp) run by Ramon Magsaysay award winners’ Dr Prakash Amte and his wife Mandakini, reported the Hindustan Times.
It is a unique social project based out of Hemalkasa, a remote village in the Maoist-affected Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra, which includes a hospital for tribal-folk and villagers, an animal orphanage, school for tribal and village children and centre for livelihood skills training.
“I am financially well off and wanted to share my happiness with the underprivileged. What better way to do that than donating cash gifts to Dr Prakash Amte. I had visited the ashram at Hemalkasa in October 2014 where Dr Amte hosted me, and I was impressed with his work, so I decided to do something for his project,” Akre told the Hindustan Times.
“Guests were informed about this in advance as it was mentioned in the wedding invitations. I am thankful to the 900-odd guests who extended their helping hand,” he added.
The Lok Biradari Prakalp began its journey in 1973 in the remote Hemalkasa village of Gadchiroli district after Baba Amte, the renowned social activist and Dr Prakash’s father, saw the appalling conditions under which local tribal and villagers lived.
What he saw was abject poverty, appalling healthcare facilities, widespread malnutrition and mass exploitation of local tribal folk by forest department officials. Areas often neglected by the state are ripe for mass exploitation and consequently left-wing extremist groups.
In the absence of the state, Baba Amte took it upon himself to lay the foundation of the Lok Biradari Prakalp. Dr Prakash Amte and his wife Mandakini then went ahead and set up a hospital in the village to address the basic healthcare needs of this remote region. Today, the hospital services the needs of nearly 45,000 patients from nearby villages, including people from the neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.