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How One Man Has Fed Morethan 1 Lakh Needy People & Counting During The Lockdown In Dhanbad

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The lockdown has forced most of us to be confined to our homes and changed the way one lives their life. The lockdown has also severely impacted the economy with most of us worried about the future. While a lot of us still have jobs and a source of income, the lockdown has completely shelved the financial sources for the vulnerable communities including the daily wage labourers and domestic workers. During the stressful period, a lot of initiatives by the government as well as organizations have come up to help and support the needy. One such organization is Pathshala: Meals on Wheels run by Dev Kumar Verma. 

The initiative is part of his educational campaign ‘Pathshala’ that aims to provide education to the underprivileged children of Dhanbad. The lockdown resulted in Verma expanding his initiative into a full-fledged campaign to feed the needy and provide rations to as many vulnerable families as possible.

The Beginnings

Dev Kumar Verma, an official with Coal India Limited, started a small school in one of the villages of Dhanbad district with the goal to impart education to the ones who cannot afford the same. The district is a major source of coal in the country and the economy of the state as well as villagers are highly dependent on the same. Most of the kids who came to the school ‘Pathshala’ were children of the coal mine workers looking for a chance to learn. With time hundreds of students joined the school and the latter expanded to other villages as well.

“Education is an opportunity a chance to change the course of the future and make it better. All I wish is to provide the young ones with an opportunity to dream for a better future,” says Dev.

However, the lockdown took a toll on the studies of the young ones as they no longer could attend the classes. Moreover, most of them had to look for ways to support their families. “Children were starving. The dependency on the government supplies was rampant and the helplessness on the face of the labours was very evident. That’s when I decided to step up and created the campaign to distribute supplies and provide meals to the villagers,” Dev adds.

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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families

With the help of funds that Dev had saved to upgrade his school into a high school, Dev began the relief work. Starting with distributing rations to around 300 families in a day, the organization reached out to the masses with bags full of supplies and hope.

Reaching out to more than 85 villages in the district

The first few weeks of Pathshala: Meals on Wheels was dedicated to supply of the rations to the vulnerable citizens. Rice, pulses, cardamom, oil and other essentials were delivered. Soon the number grew from hundred to thousands as the first lockdown was on the verge of ending. With the labour unemployment crisis at its peak, Dev realized that a lot more needs to be done. “As the word of our initiative grew, more and more villagers came in seeking help adding a few hundreds every day, the villagers kept coming in,” Dev adds. This led to Dev starting a community kitchen so that the logistics can be managed and the finances are reduced. Today Pathshala: Meals on Wheels feeds more than 10,000 people every day and has been serving 85 villages in the district. Also the organisation supplies rations to many families on a daily basis.

The road ahead

Till date the organization has fed more than 1 lakh and counting people. It continues to reach out to other villages to help and organizations for collaborations to effectively provide supplies. The organization has also donated 31,000 kg rice to the Jharkhand police community kitchen which will provide food at 12 different police stations of Jharkhand.

pathshala-meals-on-wheels

“I have seen hunger at its worst stage. Felt it a lot of times, when I didn’t really have anything to eat on numerous occasions. Coming from a background that toiled hard every single day, I understand what it means to wait for the next meal. No one wants to stand in the sun for hours for a single meal, but if one does, it means they are in dire need. I wish to educate the coming generation that someone will come and help, the world is in it together,” affirms Dev.

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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

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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