“Namaste didi”, was how I was greeted by Gaurav Seth, one of the founder-members of Mini-NGO, an organisation based in Jalandhar working towards the betterment of society.
All of 16, Gaurav is perhaps a rare breed of teenager, who at a time when others his age are thinking about the next movie to watch or party to attend, has chosen to help the less privileged.
The Better India caught up with Gaurav to find out more about Mini-NGO and their work.
A group of five friends, all in the crucial year of their education–class 10–were sitting around the park one evening. They saw a group of underprivileged people being fed by an organisation nearby.
One of them broached the topic of wanting to do something for the betterment of his immediate surroundings and help people. Within no time, the others were nodding in agreement.
Gaurav says, “The motivation was just to work for the betterment. Initially, we were just a group of friends. I remember during the Kerala floods we got together and collected money to send across. While the amount was not of great significance, it brought us all together.”
With each deed they did, more volunteers came forward and joined them. Today, they have 82 volunteers with Mini-NGO.
The story behind the name
Since all the members of this group were children between the ages of 12 and 16, those who saw them work referred to them as “chotte bacche“.
Gaurav says, “That name just stuck to us and we decided to call ourselves the ‘Mini-NGO’. While there has been no registration yet, we will do all that once we turn 18. As of now, we are just happy doing the work and have realised that there is no age at which one can start helping others.”
All through my conversation with Gaurav, he keeps reiterating how this is a joint effort.
He says, “Didi, please do mention everyone’s name. This is not just something that I am doing. We have managed to do such good work over the last one year because of each member’s contribution.”
Of all the members of this organisation, some of the earliest are Vishesh, Bhanu, Gaurav, Shivam, Uday, Nikhil, Shiven, Nikit, Jagmeet, Mehakpal, Joban, and Chetan.
Gaurav’s request to include all the names is such a refreshing change. Most often, we see people refraining from sharing credit and acknowledging the work put in by others. So much to learn from these teenagers!
Each month, every member of this organisation contributes Rs 50 and once collected, they decide together what project they can undertake and complete that month.
Gaurav says, “We have undertaken various kinds of projects. From raising awareness on climatic changes by participating in a cycle rally to feeding the poor, and even providing clothes to some of the underprivileged.”
“One of the first things we did was when all we had was Rs 170,” recollects Gaurav.
“We bought packets of biscuits and distributed them among poor kids sitting outside Devi Talab Mandir. The joy and happiness that it brought them was what prompted us to do more,” he says.
On birthdays and other special occasions, members tend to contribute more towards a good cause. “We encourage our members to spend their money in a good way,” says Gaurav.
With 82 members now, each of them nurtures a different dream. While some plan to study engineering, others aspire to become doctors.
Gaurav says, “No matter what we all do or where we end up, we will always be connected to Mini-NGO; and working towards it will always be a priority.”
Here’s how you can help
Contact Mini-NGO on +91-9530677035 or find them on Facebook.
Here’s wishing the members of this unique NGO all the very best!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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