For India’s underprivileged, life is often brutal and unstable. From sleeping on the streets every night to collapsing under bridges or drains when they are sick. But all hope is not lost for them. Across the nation, initiatives, organisations and individuals reach out every day as the beacons of hope and change for people who otherwise would have had to live in despair.
The ‘Happy Furniture Projects’ is an effort by The Better India, in partnership with Pepperfry, to showcase and lend a hand to the excellent work done by such virtuous individuals and organizations. Together we identify these organisations, understand how we can aid them in their efforts, and deliver help – in the form of furniture.
In this article, we introduce you to the first two organizations helped by Happy Furniture Projects program, by Pepperfry:
Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan:
Paramjeet Kaur founded the Ashray Adhikar Abhiyaan (AAA) as a citizen’s campaign to fight for the rights of homeless people in India, and make the State accountable for their rights.
Her inspiration came from her experience working with NGOs for around 18 years. She noticed that rampant adult homelessness had a cyclical effect. Kids born on the streets were abandoned once they were adults, who would themselves end up giving birth to more children on the streets – all remaining homeless.
Families abandoned other adults for reasons ranging from mental illness to old age. Paramjeet decided to start and run her own NGO, which would focus on homeless adults vulnerable to mental disorders.
To begin with, in 2001, she formed a team and surveyed Delhi’s streets for 15 nights, the first ever headcount by an NGO of the homeless in the city. Then she got to work.
AAA has come a long way since its inception in 2000. Working with the Delhi Government through the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), AAA manages shelters across Delhi. Permanent shelters are present year round, and during winters, additional temporary ones are installed in the form of cabins, in buildings or tents.
The homeless are welcome in any of the 26 round-the-clock shelters in Delhi run by AAA. They get access to a clean place, a blanket to sleep, electricity, fresh drinking water, bathroom, water coolers, first aid, and a weekly doctor’s visit with free medicines, with a provision for hospital admission, if required.
For the mentally ill, AAA has taken the responsibility of bringing them from the streets for diagnosis and treatment, with records kept so that their presence can be secured for subsequent visits, as required by the doctor.
As of now, AAA has managed over 12 million beds, delivered health care service to around 1 million people. There is light at the end of the tunnel and AAA will continue to serve millions in the years to come.
Through the Happy Furniture Projects, Pepperfry has donated AAA some comfort in the form of furniture for their shelters – with a hope that it helps them continue the fight for good!
The Good Samaritans:
An initiative by Hyderabad’s George Rakesh Babu, this began as a free clinic to help dress wounds and treat elderly sick people. The movement has since then grown into a full-fledged ‘destitute’ home, with three branches across the city.
Providing basic medical care and running a small free pharmacy, the Good Samaritans provides aid to the abandoned, sick, old or dying unclaimed people left on the roads of Hyderabad.
It all began with a Tamil priest, an acquaintance of George, and the orphanage the priest ran. When the priest was unable to pay rent, he and his children were evicted by the landlord from the home they lived in. Stepping in, George helped in arranging accommodation for all the orphans. In this interim, the priest expired. With his limited resources, George faced a lot of trouble in organising final rites for the priest.
This experience opened George’s eyes to the fate of the abandoned or destitute in Hyderabad, and soon he started Good Samaritans.
From an alcoholic father to an old aunt, every abandoned person can find refuge at George’s shelter. Today, Good Samaritans has reached out, rescued and restored the lives of more than 300 homeless old people. Once the health of the resident improves, George also helps them get jobs – like doing small household chores, becoming watch persons, poultry farmers, etc.
And if their health takes a turn for the worse, George does his best to ensure their final rites are performed in a dignified manner.
Despite all odds, George relentlessly provides shelter to the destitute, using the financial aid he receives from voluntary and corporate organisations. However, many times he also dives into his and wife’s savings.
Recognising that George could use some help in his noble endeavour, Pepperfry donated furniture under the Happy Furniture Projects to the Good Samaritans. The furniture has been deployed across the centres – lending George a big helping hand.
We hope such help and recognition help George in his resolve to rehabilitate millions of lives.
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)