Youngistaan believes in bringing change. A change that can be seen and can be done by anyone. From providing food and clothes to giving skills training and a complete makeover, this team of 300 volunteers does it all! They are transforming the way homeless live in Hyderabad. Read all about their inspiring story of change and how you can do it too!
Did you know that a group of young volunteers is converting a usual day for the homeless into one that they would never forget all their lives? These volunteers approach the needy and homeless and literally change the way they look and live. And, the change is unbelievable!
As per a report by Action Aid in 2003, there were 78 million homeless people in India. Often ignored, these people are mostly looked down upon by society and we fail to look beyond their ragged exteriors to find and help the real person inside. But this bunch of young volunteers from Youngistaan Foundation has taken a pledge to do just that! They not only help the less privileged with things as basic as food but also literally transform the way they look.
From personally giving them a haircut, clean clothes and a makeover to providing them with skills to take up various jobs, the Youngistaan group is leaving no stone unturned to help those who need it the most.
Started by Arun Daniel Yellamaty as a small initiative in 2012, Youngistaan initially focused on feeding the homeless on weekends. What Yellamaty did not know at the time was that his small weekend activity would turn into something so impactful and huge.
“I was involved in various social activities in college, and at the time, we thought of starting something in a more focused way. So, we announced in college that we’ll be visiting an organization that caters to the requirements of children with special needs and invited everyone to join us. Only three people showed up that day, but that was just the beginning,” says Yellamaty.
Yellamaty and team started with visiting six orphanages to tutor the kids from class 1 to 12. They would also visit children with special needs and teach them creative arts. But Yellamaty was not satisfied and wanted to do something which could leave a larger impact.
“Our idea is to do small things that can leave a bigger impact. We don’t tell people that you have to do this or that. Rather, we support them to come up with their own ideas to help the needy,” Yellamaty says.
The core team of four that takes care of most things works with a huge group of over 300 volunteers from various backgrounds who help them in implementing their initiatives in a successful way.
Yellamaty gradually expanded his idea of social work and started feeding the homeless every Saturday and Sunday. The Youngistaan team would go to restaurants, get food packets on discounted rates and distribute them to the needy.
The feeding initiative attracted many people. Gradually, more people got involved and Youngistaan started giving fresh clothes, medical help and skills to the homeless. Today, they reach out to over 1,000 homeless people every weekend and give them delicious food which is cooked by the team itself. “From cutting vegetables to cooking and serving, we do it all,” says Yellamaty.
We have heard of many transformation stories but the ones shared by Youngistaan beats them all. They approach the homeless who do not have access to proper hygiene and give them a complete makeover.
From giving them a shower to cutting their hair and even providing clean clothes, the team makes sure that they give the homeless person a makeover that he or she could never forget. They also provide a kit that these people can use for a week to keep themselves clean.
“Some of them haven’t had a shower for months and there is dirt and germs in the hair. It is amazing, and at times amusing, to see that sometimes these people are so hard to recognize after the makeover,” Yellamaty says.
Initially, it is hard to develop trust and approach the homeless. So, the team first interacts with them and approaches through the feeding programme. Gradually, when they become friendly and open up to them, the team offers to ‘transform’ them.
“There are many young or middle-aged men and women who want to work, but who would give them a job in their current getup? If they are presentable, it is easier for them to get the job,” he says.
Apart from an image transformation, the Youngistaan team also provides various skill training to the needy to make them self-dependent.
“There is a clear change in their attitude. They feel much more confident and it automatically brings out their better side,” Yellamaty says.
Connecting the dots
“There is no one way to bring a change. You should keep trying different things that you think would help someone,” Yellamaty says.
Keeping that philosophy in mind and with a mission to leave a bigger impact, Youngistaan has also created a database of young people who are willing to donate blood. This simplifies the process of identifying potential donors and saves many lives at times of need.
Yellamaty and his team is also working on a new programme called “Women of Change” where they plan to bring together women from all informal sectors and find practical and implementable solutions to their daily problems.
The team, which currently invests money from its own pocket, also takes help from various sponsors, corporate houses and colleges to fund its initiatives. Once it arranges enough funds, the Hyderabad-based NGO would like to expand its activities to nine other cities of India.
Apart from that, they are also looking to convert it into a week-long activity rather than just a weekend initiative. Opening a skills training centre for homeless people so that they could stand on their own feet is also on the team’s agenda.
“Most of the regular old age homes require a family member to admit the person but the homeless don’t have any family member. So we would like to open old age homes for the elderly on the streets,” Yellamaty says.
He also plans to adopt various government orphanages and schools to deliver better facilities.
How you can help?
“You need not go out of your way to do something good. Even small deeds can make a big difference in someone’s life,” says Yellamaty.
Youngistaan is looking for team leaders who could lead their various initiatives and come up with interesting action plans and strategies to reach out to more people. Watch their amazing journeys of transformation and how easy it is for anyone to join in! (If you cannot watch the video below, click here)
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“We are always looking for people who have the same passion as us to work in this sector. You can join us anytime for any such field visit or you can just spread the word,” Yellamaty says.
The Youngistaan team has proved that bringing a change is possible and that too with limited resources. All you need is passion and empathy. Want to know more about their work? Follow them on Facebook .