From a welcoming home to a dignified death, Ravi Kalra is doing the impossible - saving society's forgotten and abandoned citizens. #HeroesOfHumanity
Yesterday, The Earth Saviours Foundation (TESF), an internationally recognised non-profit founded by Ravi Kalra, a Delhi-born social activist, posted an interesting development on their official Facebook page.
“We have been successful in reuniting Anaro Devi, 90-year-old lady with her family on Senior Citizen’s Day, i.e. 1st October 2018. Anaro Devi was admitted in our Gurukul by Manesar Police (Women Cell) on 19th August 2018. With the help of Zipnet.in (Zonal Integrated Police Network), a dedicated team of our Gurukul was able to find her lost family,” read the post.
This is only the latest in the string of noble deeds that the Ravi Kalra-founded non-profit, which provides shelter and care to citizens (children and adults) left on the streets, senior citizens abandoned by their family and those suffering from physical and mental disabilities, have committed from their headquarters in Gurgaon.
Today, TESF is home to more than 500 of India’s forgotten citizens.
Born and raised in a middle-class family from Delhi, Ravi Kalra graduated from Delhi University, following which he acquired the prestigious level 4th Dan black belt in Taekwondo Martial Arts in 1987. As an International Master Instructor and the President of Indian Amateur Taekwondo Federation, Kalra has trained many soldiers posted all around the world with his work taking him to 43 different countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite his successful career as a martial arts instructor, Kalra couldn’t shake off what would eventually become his true calling, which is to serve society.
It was the sight of an impoverished child in rags and a street dog consuming food from the same pile of trash that inspired him to start TESF in 2008. Using all his hard-earned money he set up the non-profit through which he runs an old age home, rehabilitation school for poor children, and offers medical and material care for folks with physical and mental disabilities, and even HIV-AIDs patients abandoned by society. In other words, he took care of those who had no one else by their side.
Volunteers from the TESF rescue and rehabilitate people from the streets at their shelter home called Gurukul in Bandwari village in Gurugram for free. “At first, we used to rescue these people ourselves, now the police also bring them to us, the social justice empowerment ministry also gets people admitted at our shelter home,” said Ravi in a conversation with Edex.
However, running this shelter home is a real struggle for Ravi. With a capacity for only 200 people, the shelter currently houses 450 people with very little space to move around freely.
“Most of them can’t take care of themselves. What I would specifically like to tell everyone is there are no drug addicts — people have the notion that these people on the streets are mostly drug addicts, but in reality, that is not the case. They are mostly mentally-challenged or have been thrown out of their houses by their children,” adds Ravi, during his conversation.
Going through multiple news reports on TESF, one does get a sense of how poorly Indians treat their elderly. Among the senior citizens, the non-profit has rescued off the streets are former civil servants, armed forces personnel, MBA graduates and even Non-Resident Indians abandoned by their children and extended family. There are those who have lost their jobs, while others have never quite recovered from seemingly very traumatic incidents, which results in serious mental health concerns.
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There are absolutely no criteria regarding who can or cannot take refuge at TSEF’s shelter, and once settled, the people are helped by volunteers, who offer them vocational training and a shot at a decent livelihood.
Aside from this, Ravi has also taken the trouble of offering them dignity even after death. Despite possessing little to no qualification for the task of a priest, he has reportedly cremated approximately 6000 unidentified or unclaimed dead bodies with all the necessary rituals and prayers.
Ravi Kalra leading the cremation process for the unclaimed and unidentified. (Source: Facebook/Ravi Kalra)
For the future, however, Ravi is aiming to construct the world’s largest charitable temple, which has an in-house hospital, police control room and can accommodate a 1000 people. Besides being an amazingly noble aim, this is also a message to society’s forgotten that there is a man and an organisation looking out for them.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)