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In 3 Hours, Former Beggars Clean Up 1 Ton Waste From Gomati River, Aim To Address 11 Other Social Evils Next

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Remember Sharad Patel? The farmer’s son who reinstated a life of dignity to beggars in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. He rescued many from begging and provided alternate work opportunities. Now, his organisation Badlav has vowed to do their bit for the society and environment.

Patel and his team of former beggars have identified twelve social evils and resolved to work for their eradication in the next twelve months. Their year-long initiative was kickstarted with the cleaning of a stretch of the Gomati river in Lucknow. In three hours on a Sunday afternoon, a team of 17 erstwhile beggars removed nearly one tonne of waste polluting the Gomati – once recognised as the lifeline of Lucknow.

Sharad Patel Is Helping Hundreds Of Beggars Earn A Dignified Living

When Sharad started his work, his friends and relatives warned him that it was an impossible task and that he would not be able to finish what he has begun.

Posted by Efforts For Good on Thursday, July 19, 2018

Patel built shelter home for the beggars

Since 2015, Patel’s Badlav has helped nearly 30 people of all ages to stop begging and pursue other types of paid works. He organises skill-based training workshops for these men, many of whom are now working as rickshaw pullers, carpenters, daily labourers and even teachers. “My main aim was to restore their dignity. Many of them are educated individuals, who lost everything in disastrous circumstances. They were driven to begging by the pangs of poverty,” Patel shares with Efforts For Good.

Arranging alternate employment opportunities for them was only a part of Patel’s goals, as many of them continued to be homeless, forced to survive on footpaths. Despite repeated pleas to the government authorities, Sharad’s appeal for a shelter home for these people went unheard. Eventually, he took to crowdfunding and built a small shelter home, which at present accommodates 18 former beggars. The home officially became functional from January 2019.

Community Work Every Sunday

On February 10, the auspicious day of Vasant Panchami, Badlav declared their year-long programme for eradication of social evils. “We are indeed helping them become independent and respected. But, I do not want their contribution to end there. They are also an integral part of society and have a social responsibility. That is why we launched our programme ‘Pratyek Ravivar Samudayik Karya’ (Every Sunday Community Work), where we will do one community work every Sunday for a year,” informs Patel. They have prioritised twelve existent social evils ranging from environmental pollution to discrimination, which will feature on their agenda for the rest of the year.

The eve of Holi is celebrated as Holika Dahana, where a hay effigy of the demoness Holika is burnt. “It symbolises the annihilation of evil. This year, on Holika Dahana, our volunteers will resolve to rid themselves of their inner evils and evolve as better human beings,” reveals Patel. Till that day, the upcoming Sundays will be spent on one social work or other, similar to the Gomati cleaning drive.

Gomati river cleaning

For the Gomati cleaning drive, 17 former beggars from the shelter home were engaged as volunteers, barring Ramu, who is visually-impaired. They were accompanied by four other workers including Sharad Patel himself. “The Shramdaan lasted three hours, during which we used shovels, brooms and rakes to separate garbage from the river. In the end, the entire mound of garbage amounted to around one tonne. Though we have approached the municipal authorities for safe disposal of the waste, they still have not responded. We are hoping they clear the area soon, as we will repeat our programme the coming Sunday as well,” he informs.

Efforts For Good take

Pollution of rivers is a common menace all over India, as evident from the pathetic condition of important rivers like the Ganga and the Yamuna. While much of the urban population continues to be nonchalant, such an initiative by former beggars is surely commendable. Hopefully, their work will inspire many more citizens to come forward and clean their rivers. Efforts For Good salutes the amazing zeal showed by the residents of Badlav for cleaning the river, as well as their enthusiasm to address existing social evils.

Also Read: Victims Of Abuse, These Women In Bodh Gaya Now Earn By Turning Temple Flower Waste Into Dyes

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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.

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Out of 20,00,000

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