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My Story: “Depressed, I Used To Contemplate Suicide; I Found My Calling In Barefoot College”

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“Have a purpose in life or else life will be of no purpose,”- a quote I truly started believing when I realised purpose was completely missing from my life. Deep in depression since 14 years of age, I started contemplating suicide, but thankfully, life had other plans for me. Coming to Jagriti Yatra in 2016 and then volunteering for it in 2017 brought me to Barefoot College and my life has found a new meaning since then.

Barefoot College (actual name – The Social Work and Research Centre) is a civil service organisation (CSO) situated in a remote village named Tilonia in Rajasthan.  Started in 1972 by Sanjit ‘Bunker’ Roy, the organisation operated community-based models for rural development. Most of the people here have no formal education and yet are doing wonders for the community. Barefoot College works in 14 domains which includes water, education, health, livelihood, women empowerment, rural handicrafts, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), and much more. It is a family of Barefoot professionals where everybody has no paper to show their qualification to do what they are doing.

I feel I belong here. As the founder Mr Bunker Roy in his TED talk said – it is the place for “the drop-outs, cop-outs, and wash-outs.” I feel I am one among them. I have a background in commerce and management, but I have discovered my true self through social service. My parents were involved in social work, so it was a part of my upbringing. But, I had never thought I would take it up as my full-time work.

My first role as a part of the education team of Barefoot College was to co-manage the Malala Project with a local person from Tilonia. We partnered with the Malala Fund for this project which focussed on girl child education, gender sensitivity, child rights, women empowerment, and child marriage. It led me to remote villages in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand. On the one hand, these villages mesmerised me with their scenic beauty, and on the flip side, I was exposed to the darker side of India where I encountered patriarchy, misogyny and ignorance. I fought with it with all my might. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I stumbled, but I never stopped.

The mission was to bring back dropouts to school and give adolescent girls and women a voice. My happiness knew no bounds when at the final event of the project, 80 girls spoke boldly about topics ranging from menstruation, women safety, abuse to alcoholism in front of high ranked government officials.

Through the project around 1500 girls and boys rejoined school and are continuing it. The realisation of what my team was able to achieve almost brought me to tears. I had never had the first-hand experience about what it means to struggle for basics like education.

Currently, I am looking after Shiksha Niketan, the day-school run by Barefoot College. My day is filled with laughs and cries and hugs and high-fives from more than 400 kids. This school has been a centre of excellence for more than three decades now. The children here are also exposed to gender and civic rights, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics), sustainability and environmental education along with the regular curriculum.

The children in the school come from marginalised communities, and regular health facilities are still not affordable for them. Also, sports always takes a backseat when it comes to a choice between sports and study. When I was battling depression, my father asked me to take up any sport because he felt that it prepares a person to face the hurdles of life. I, therefore, want to open the avenues of sports for these children. I am now running a crowdfunding campaign and trying to raise money for health and sports facilities for these children. This year, despite fewer facilities, some children were able to bring accolades for the school in the district tournaments. I wish that by next year they have all the training facilities to shine in many more competitions to come.

– Krati Gahlot, Staff with Barefoot College, Rajasthan

Also Read: “Through Volunteering, I Have Discovered How To Manage When Things Go Haywire That Never Involved Raising My Voice”

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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families
Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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