This article has been published in partnership with Duroflex.
Many among us take our privileges for granted. We rarely let ourselves feel grateful for the comforts we have. Think about it — how many times have we appreciated having a roof over our heads and a comfortable mattress that keeps us warm and provides us restful sleep?
All of this, while lakhs of Indians end up sleeping on the streets, out in the cold without basic amenities. Even those in shelter homes are often deprived of the necessities, one needs to have to get sound sleep. Torn blankets and mattresses often force the residents of these shelters to sleep on the bare floor. For many shelter homes, a financial crunch during the COVID-19 pandemic escalated this problem, and they had to cut back on the essential things they provide to their residents.
This has also been the case for Bengaluru-based NGO Vidyaranya. Their plans of refurbishing existing mattresses and getting new ones were stalled because of the pandemic. Instead, the money was used to ensure a steady supply of rations for more than 300 residents, including disabled children, women, and the elderly.
A ray of hope, however, has come to spread some festive cheer, in the form of Duroflex, a leading sleep solutions company. This Christmas, Duroflex, along with The Better India, has launched an initiative called ‘Gift of Sleep’ to donate 365 mattresses to 365 children living at Vidyaranya. With the hope that every kid can enjoy at least eight hours of quality sleep on these mattresses — the initiative amounts to gifting a million hours of sleep in a year.
“Quality of sleep plays a crucial role in a child’s development. Studies have shown that children who get an adequate amount of quality sleep have better attention spans, memory, and overall mental and physical health. A good mattress is critical for deep and beneficial sleep, which in turn leads to overall growth among children. Having a good mattress to sleep on can also help avoid body aches,” says Ramesh MC, founder, Vidyaranya.
Duroflex encourages you to join and make this initiative sweeter by sending in your wishes. Our readers can send their messages to us, and Duroflex will make sure it reaches the kids – along with the mattresses. These can be messages showing support, care, love, or just a note wishing the children at the shelter a happy new year. If you want to send a message, please click here.
The story of constant support
Ramesh founded Vidyaranya in 1991 with a few of his friends, while still in his second year of Masters in Social Work. Moved by the condition of the needy during college field trips, he decided to open a shelter for the homeless. Over the years, he scaled activities and added shelter homes for abandoned children, women, and the elderly.
Ramesh continued even after his peers found it increasingly challenging to juggle their jobs and the NGO. Presently, he runs the NGO with new board members, who not only shelter people but also provide education and vocational training for a sustainable future.
Touching many lives
“As part of our routine survey in slums across the city, we came across Laxmi, who was keen on studying. But her mother couldn’t afford education, so we took her into our residential school,” says Ramesh. Laxmi’s father had abandoned her in 2009 when she was in the first grade. The family of five found themselves without any earning member and survived on the goodwill of neighbours till Vidyaranya stepped in.
With their support, Laxmi excelled in her studies and scored 60 percent in her board exams. Currently, she is undergoing the Pre-University Course (PUC) and hopes to join the medical field.
“She is very hardworking, dedicated, and aims to become financially independent to give her mother a good life. She has also been supportive of other girls like her in the shelter home. She takes extra classes and teaches them English in her free time,” adds Ramesh.
Another member, Anjali Priya, has also turned her life around with Vidyaranya’s help. Her father was an alcoholic, and she was often subjected to physical abuse. Scared to even go to school, she dropped out and started accompanying her mother to work. It was her passion to study that brought her to the NGO’s doorstep.
Ramesh not only provided her shelter and education but also gave vocational training to her mother, who is now working in a garment factory. Anjali is in the ninth grade and hopes to become an IPS officer in the future.
Like Laxmi and Anjali, there are hundreds of people whose lives have improved after Vidyaranya came along. Children as young as two and elders above 60 have all found a haven here. Along with providing food, shelter, and clothing, the NGO also provides life skill training to disabled children who have been abandoned by their families.
Challenges amid the pandemic
Donations and CSR activity-related projects certainly declined in 2020. While Ramesh and the other board members are using their savings for basic needs, it’s getting difficult to pay salaries.
It even reached a stage where the NGO had to stop admitting new people. “We have nearly 40 people on our waiting list to join various shelter homes. We’re managing somehow, but we don’t know when things will return to normal,” says Ramesh.
The pandemic has left many social welfare organisations and their beneficiaries in need, but there’s a silver lining here. Duroflex has always strived to help India sleep better with their innovative sleep solutions. Their initiative of gifting sleeping hours in the form of brand new high-quality mattresses is both meaningful and essential for the growth and development of children. Join in and send your messages for the children of Vidyaranya here and give wings to their dreams.