The spirit of Diwali not only celebrates the triumph of good over evil but also teaches us to celebrate joy.
Joy has many expressions. My personal favourite was watching my mother take the effort every Diwali of going to the market and picking up a beautiful saree for our house-help of 14 years. She would then diligently wrap it in a shiny paper and slip in an envelope with an undisclosed amount and a thank you letter.
She often said, “It’s Diwali. Spread happiness and make someone smile.”
Now that is the perfect message for the festival of light – brighten up someone’s day!
It is this spirit that we at The Better India (TBI) and Karnival.com want to gather and spread this Diwali. With the idea of spreading joy in the lives of those who need it the most, we are getting together with our readers to launch #DiwaliKarnival. As part of this campaign, we will be sending gifts to organisations that are doing incredible work across different sectors — gifts that will make a difference in hundreds of lives.
To make that happen, we got in touch with four NGOs across India who are working towards varying causes including women empowerment, education, the rights of persons with disabilities, and animal welfare.
From them, we got a list of products they needed the most and turned the requirement into a list of items we can buy and send to the NGOs. Every little bit helps, so let us try to make it a grand Diwali for all!
Here are the NGOs we can help:
Founded in 1989, Snehalaya, an Ahmednagar-based NGO, has been supporting and empowering women, children and people from the LGBT community, who have been affected by HIV and AIDS and are survivors of trafficking, sexual violence, and abysmal poverty.
Snehalaya impacts the lives of more than 19,000 individuals every year. Apart from running a Children’s Shelter Home which fosters 250 children of sex workers, minors rescued from the sex trade and children orphaned by and/or living with HIV, they run educational programmes, an on-site school and provide vocational training too.
It also runs a 30-bed hospital and provides palliative care for people affected by AIDS. In addition to all this, Snehalaya has opened Snehadhar, a long-term women’s shelter that offers safe housing for women and kids who experience domestic violence, and adoption centres that gives emergency care to abandoned infants and medical/psychological support to expectant mothers.
NAWPC was founded by Rahul Deshmukh, the son of a humble farmer from Shirdi.
Rahul was 7 when she started losing his sight gradually, after the veins that supplied blood to his eyes started getting defunct. From schools that couldn’t accommodate his special needs, people who refused to rent him a space to live and lack of accessible study material during his college, he has faced and overcome incredible challenges.
“If no one was ready to accommodate a visually-impaired person, someone had to make arrangements for the hundreds of such students who come to Pune for education. I was going to be that person,” he says.
His determination led him to start NAWPC in 1999. The main aim of this association is to make visually and physically challenged students independent with the help of higher education and advanced technology.
Apart from creating a digital library with audiobooks for visually impaired students, he also started a free of cost computer training programme for them.
Eventually, the organisation evolved from computer classes to teaching subjects like finance, music, history, and social science.
Since 2000, more than 3,000 visually-impaired students have benefited from the array of programmes run by NAWPC.
3) Urja Trust
Mumbai-based Urja trust is home to homeless women who are victims of discrimination, domestic violence, sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
The first proactive step that the organisation takes to reach out to such women, is sending its team of dedicated social workers to important railway stations in the city such as Dadar which witnesses incoming traffic of women in other cities and rural India.
The social workers identify these women in need at the platform and bring them to Urja, where the process of restoring their sense of security begins, and they are provided with immediate shelter, healthcare and counselling sessions.
Many a time, these women who have lived horrifying stories of abuse, arrive bruised and battered at Urja’s doorstep too.
The founders work closely with these women to understand their trauma and help cognitive rehabilitation. For women who wish to return to their families, Urja aids the process but continues to support them through follow-up phone calls and home visits.
Till date, Urja has helped over 600 young women who come from marginalised communities across India.
CARE which stands for Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre and was established in January 2013 has a heartwarming story. The Bengaluru-based animal rescue organisation and welfare shelter was named after a 15-year-old three-legged Indie dog Charlie.
Charlie lost one of his legs in a car accident as young as one-month-old. Yet, he left his legacy behind as an established figure in the field of canine therapy since 2005.
Also known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT), it uses animals to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning. Charlie was instrumental in working with children who have autism. Known as the creator of miracles, Charlie even helped one of the students speak his first words.
Charlie passed away on March 2017 and CARE aims to honour his legacy and live up to it through rescue and rehabilitation of animals in need.
CARE is a loving home to animals of all kinds—dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, pigs, ducks and even calves. They suffer from several health issues ranging from blindness, missing or severed limbs, paraplegia, serious ailments due to old age and require constant care, medical attention and love.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)