Moved By Struggles Of His Widowed Mother, This Young Man Is Now Empowering Widows
Sayantani Nath India
September 3rd, 2018 / 6:03 PM
Unlike most of the boys in his class, little Amit would find himself faltering every time a new teacher would casually inquire the students about their fathers’ names or occupation. Having lost his father at a tender age of three, Amit Jain grew up witnessing the plight of a widowed mother in the Indian society.
Today, at the prime age of 27, Amit Jain has resolved to bring a permanent change in the lives of widows and fatherless children. Inspired by his mother’s unfailing support, he started his organisation Mitti Ke Rang – which is working in countries across the globe, rebuilding the lives of widowed and single women and their children. In an exclusive interview with The Logical Indian, Amit Jain shares his journey, from giving up on his engineering dreams to securing employment for many helpless women.
His father left them under a sea of debts
Hailing from the small town of Bhusawal in Maharashtra, Amit Jain hardly remembers his father except for a few golden glimpses of playing and sharing innocent laughs. In 1994, when he passed away, Amit’s grandfather helped his mother start a small tailoring shop to make ends meet.
“We soon learnt that our father had left us in a huge burden of debts. Me and my brother’s education, books, clothes and other expenses were mostly financed by my uncles. Every now and then, I was accustomed to seeing my mother trying to hide any valuable item we had. She feared that one sudden day the bank authorities may turn up at our door and seize whatever little we had,” Amit recollects about his childhood.
“I noticed how my mother was treated with little respect and isolated from family events, only because she was a widow. In fact, only a few years ago, during my brother’s wedding, my mother was forbidden to participate in many rituals. She was not even allowed to put Mehendi on her hands,” narrates Amit, “Only after I intervened and vehemently protested against these pointless customs, that the other family members obliged.”
Pained by her struggles which she never expressed, Amit was determined to gift his mother a better life. He had to sacrifice his dreams of becoming an engineer mainly due to the lack of funds. Despite financial constraints, he finally landed a decent job after pursuing his graduation in Commerce. “After I settled in Pune, I brought my mother here so that she does not have to face the brunt of the heartless society again.”
His organisation did not start in a day
“In 2014, when we were living a somewhat better life, my mother urged me to do something for the society, especially for the widowed women. I learnt that presently there are over 42 million widows in India, most of whom silently suffer a lifetime of isolation?” shares Amit.
Amit did not have any prior exposure of working in the social sector, so rather than straightaway dealing with a sensitive issue, he decided to gain some experience at the ground level. “I remembered how throughout my childhood, my relatives funded our basic essentials. So I wondered how I could help other deprived families. Finally, I decided to act as a mediator – between willing donors and the NGOs who support poorer children and their families,” he shares. Popularising his initiative through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, every weekend Amit would go to different cities and collect clothes, books and other items from the donors who got in touch with him and later donate those to different NGOs.
Within one and a half years, his campaign spread like a wildfire involving more than 100 active volunteers, following which he decided to address the issue of gender inequality which has always been his aim. Thus Mitti Ke Rang saw the light of the day in Pune.
Amit’s application to be a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council was approved in 2017. He met with social workers from over 40 countries at their annual conference in Malaysia. His idea of gender equality and rehabilitation of widows influenced many of them, who incorporated a similar campaign model in their own countries.
“Today we have Mitti Ke Rang centres in Pakistan, Zambia, Gambia, Kenya, France, Spain, Fiji, Nepal and of course India, with our primary centres at Pune and Hadapsar. By the end of this year, centres at Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Mumbai are scheduled to start. We are changing the lives of underprivileged widows and their children all over the world, ” Amit shares proudly.
Present projects of Mitti Ke Rang
In Pune, Amit is working with 21 widowed women, organising skill-based workshops for them like Rangoli designing, cloth and paper bag making, creating idols for the upcoming Ganpati festival, and handcrafting Diwali gifts. “It was a moment of great pride when some of these women were offered regular work by an event management company, to do Rangoli at different cultural events,” tells Amit.
The other segment of Project Widows is to make these women aware of their rights and benefits; guiding them with the necessary paperwork to avail services from banks and other government offices. “We also have occasional visits from our foreign counterparts for cultural exchange programs, who teach the women to read and write,” Amit adds.
For the children who have lost their fathers, Mitti Ke Rang has started a community centre with a library. Every evening, over 30 children in the age group of 6 to 16, are taught to read. Recently, Project Reading has integrated the uneducated widows and senior citizens from low-income backgrounds.
Mitti Ke Rang is a self-funded entity
Almost the entire funds of Mitti Ke Rang in India is borne by Amit himself, as he prefers to focus exclusively on improving lives rather than asking around for more funds. “In my journey, I have noticed that the ones who offered the best support and made the most generous contribution, were the people whom we forget to take into consideration,” Amit shares, recalling some heartwarming memories he made along the way.
“During my collection campaign, there was one auto-driver in Indore to whom I gifted my new shirt. Exchanging contact numbers, I excitedly shared about my campaign with him. To my surprise, he volunteered to take me door to door for the collection drive if he was allowed to keep 20% of the items. You won’t believe what he did with that 20%. He distributed all of it among his neighbours. His own wife, kids and mother were over the moon to get new clothes.”
The Logical Indian take
Amit Jain is an unconventional youth icon, the kind our country needs in huge numbers. A passionate traveller and changemaker, Amit Jain deserves an applauding mention in the front pages. The Logical Indian team appreciates his noble efforts and whole-heartedly wishes Mitti Ke Rang to change more lives every day.
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Written by : Sayantani Nath
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi