Auto driver Omkarnath Katharia offers free packets of water and food to the street vendors who sell knick-knacks at the traffic signals of Delhi.
Rising temperatures and heat waves are the biggest topics of conversations right now. When people with roofs over our heads and electricity to install fans and coolers feel the wrath of the sun to such an extent, we can imagine how difficult it must be for those without houses or any sort of equipment to protect them from the scorching heat.
Realising their plight, one auto driver in Delhi is trying to help street vendors selling small items at the traffic signals by providing them with snacks and water. His name is Omkarnath Katharia.
Omkarnath has been driving an auto since 2012. After becoming an auto driver, he realised the hardship of staying on the road for the entire day. Whether it’s summer, winter or monsoon, auto drivers don’t have the option to sit indoors. While dwelling on his own plight in the summer of 2012, he noticed street vendors selling items like toys, books and washcloths at the traffic signal and immediately saw that their adversity was far bigger than his own.
Ever since then, he started carrying several small packets of snacks and a carton filled with packets of water in his auto. At every traffic signal, he hands out these packets to the street vendors and talks to them. When some people enquired about his initiative and offered help, he also set up a small donation box that now helps him cover some of the costs of the things he distributes.
Aside from helping them with food and snacks, Omkarnath also offers free rides to and from the hospital to the sick. His auto carries a small note with his contact number that asks people to reach out to him in case of an emergency and he responds promptly to anyone’s call!
It was a couple months ago that Rashmi Krishnan took a ride in Omkarnath’s auto for the first time. At the very first traffic signal, Omkarnath got down and offered water and food to some street vendors and quickly came back to catch the green light. Rashmi was intrigued.
“That day, there was a lot of traffic and we were stuck for a long time. That gave me time to have a nice long chat with him and I asked him all about his initiative. His efforts are so genuine! I still don’t understand how he fits all these things in such a tiny space- he has the box of water packets under his seat and he hangs the packets of snacks by the central bars,” recalls Rashmi.
While talking to him, Rashmi found out that he has applied for a car loan and will soon be driving a taxi in Delhi. His loan has been granted and he will get his new car in the month of April. He will need to pay monthly installments of Rs 9,000 for four years to repay his loan.
“That will give me more space to save food and water. Also, it’ll help me earn more money so I can help more people with the extra income,” he said.
A professional working in the field of energy research in Delhi, Rashmi then decided to help him take his cause forward by setting up a crowdfunding campaign for him.
“He does so much to help the underprivileged. He provides them with food and water, gives free rides to the hospital and even volunteers at a Gurudwara regularly. When I met him, I just knew that I had to do something to help him,” she says.
To contribute to the fundraiser click here.