At Just Rs 50, Naresh Bhai’s Van Provides Migrant Labourers With PAN, Aadhaar or Bank A/Cs

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When Kranti Ben migrated to Ahmedabad from her village in search of work, she brought along little of her belongings, unaware how the big city would greet her. She was adept in sewing craft, so she was looking for work as a tailor. However, her skills and experience alone failed to secure her employment for one small reason. She had no identity documents with her.

“I had left my Voter ID card in the village. I did not have an Aadhaar or PAN card, and no bank account. Nobody was ready to trust me and give some work,” she recalls.

She runs out of words to thank ‘Naresh Bhai’ – a 24-year-old man who helps hundreds like Kranti Ben every day, by arranging their vital documents at a very nominal fee, merely 30 to 40 rupees.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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“If it was not for Naresh Bhai, I would still be unemployed. He made my Aadhaar card, PAN card, bank account – everything within just a few days. He also informed me about government benefits schemes I would be eligible for, like Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM- SYM) and Atal Pension Yojana (APY). He only made all those cards for me. God bless him,” exclaims Kranti Ben happily.

‘Naresh Bhaiya ki van’

Naresh Sijapati, the young social activist from Ahmedabad, has a mobile van which runs through the length and breadth of the city, helping migrant labourers and underprivileged people in slums with all necessary government documents. Officially titled as Labour Resource and Support Centre and informally termed as ‘Naresh Bhaiya ki van’ – his unique initiative has helped hundreds since 2017.

Panah Foundation Mobile Van

In collaboration with UIDAI and State Bank of India, Naresh manages to provide documents like Aadhaar card, PAN card, government scheme-related records as well as open bank accounts to their name.

Most of the centres charge a hefty fee

“I used to notice the SBI kiosks operating everywhere in the city trying to bring more people into the ambit of banking. At the same time, due to the Digital India initiative, small makeshift centres were opening up to aid people in getting their documents.”

However, most of these centres charge a hefty fee so they were not very popular among the migrants, many of whom live below poverty line. Their limited knowledge and access to digital platforms also curtail their chances of easily securing a government document,” reveals Naresh.

Panah Foundation Mobile Van

That’s how the idea of the mobile van came up to him. He secured registration permits from the government and SBI and launched his small van for the public.

Naresh Sijapati had a harsh upbringing

Naresh himself had experienced the woes of being a migrant in an unknown city. When he was barely a boy of six, his parents shifted from a village in Nepal to Ahmedabad. A harsh childhood with an abusive and alcoholic father only hardened his determination to do something for the helpless.

From his childhood only, he engaged in a series of odd jobs, from rag-picking to waiting tables, while carrying on his education on the side. During his days working as a factory labourer, he realised how disadvantaged migrant labourers actually are. They are exploited without any fixed salary, let alone any employment benefits. In addition, lack of relevant documents makes their livelihood harder.

Starting Panah Foundation

To help out the migrant workers’ community in their every need, Naresh started Panah Foundation. “Panah aims to be a one-window centre for migrant labour to provide solutions for all their problems,” he explains.

At present, Panah has over 600 registered members and 23 team leaders across Ahmedabad. Their most popular initiative so far has been the Labour Resource and Support Centre. It was initially started to inform the migrant residents about available jobs and skill development opportunities, as well as the government schemes they are eligible to avail. The mobile van is the latest addition in their list of projects.

How the mobile van works

Every day, the van goes and parks at one particular location and help out the people there. The residents are informed prior, so they stay prepared when Naresh arrives.

Panah Foundation Mobile Van

“I know Naresh Ji for a long time. He used to run a support centre near my hotel. But, after he started the mobile van, he has made me one of the team leaders. Now I go to the migrant labourers’ colonies and inform them beforehand about how Naresh Ji can help them,” shares Gopal Pandey, a hotel owner working with Naresh.

He does everything simply out of compassion

Naresh shares that he also helps many people who have migrated bag and baggage from other states. “In most of the cases, they leave their Voter ID cards behind and they have no documents to validate their identity. They are in need of dire help. I try my best to make things convenient for them, as much as possible,” he reveals.

For Naresh, the work is simply out of compassion. No one understands the plight of a migrant labourer better than him perhaps. Hundreds of his beneficiaries are all blessings galore for their ‘Naresh Bhaiya’.

 

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

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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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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