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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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families, 75000+ meals served, 150+ ration kits and sanitary pads distributed

“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

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.
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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families, 75000+ meals served, 150+ ration kits and sanitary pads distributed

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