The winter has arrived in the national capital of the country and clutched a rather tight grip around the city. While Delhi experiences extreme cold waves every year, on December 29 last month, it recorded a temperature of 2.6 degrees Celsius, lowest in December in the last 12 years. Covered in mufflers and blanket, and comfortably sited in front of heaters, many of us do not even realise the wrath of the weather. However, there are a lot of people, who do not have a shelter, who can not afford thick mufflers and blankets to wrap themselves. Ignored and abandoned, these unfortunates are often left to die in the cold.
At this time of need, a Delhi based Non-Profit Organization (NGO) – Sarvahitey has turned out as a saviour for many. The NGO with the help of some other volunteers distributed blankets in the national capital. In their drive that lasted for 14 days, they first did a basic survey to identify the beneficiary and then distributed more than 1,300 blankets in Delhi and NCR region.
Killing the chill in the national capital
“Sarvahitey, an NGO that strives to ‘Preserve, Sustain and Refine’ the Society” has been working for the people on various grounds. In their new initiative, “Kill the chill” the NGO tried to reach out to as many as homeless and underprivileged people, who are forced to suffer the extreme cold conditions without proper help from the government.
One of the founding members of the NGO, Prem Prakash told The Logical Indian that after the cold waves broke the records in the capital, they decided to help the needy people with blankets.
“We have done this in the past as well, but this time the idea came from a friend, who works at a software company-ION, based in Noida. The friend expressed his willingness to donate blankets. He said that there are more people he knows who would like to contribute for the cause. It was then our NGO decide to do a basic survey on the crisis to check that how many people actually need blankets in the city.”
Delhi alone has 17,000 identifies homeless, and there are 210 homeless shelters in the capital, however, most of these shelters do not have adequate facilities. For Prakash and his team, the distressful picture was also not hidden. He said that in just two days recce of some places in Delhi and Noida, they realised that there are a large number of people who do not have proper winter wears and blankets to shield from the cold. Following their survey, the NGO planned a drive in five phases to deliver the blankets.
Planning and execution
“We found that the Sector 74 in Noida and area around Safdarjung are in worst condition. There we saw many homeless people living on the road without even any mattress,” said Prem. Talking about Noida, he said that in Noida there are many new residential and commercial buildings and people who work as maid and security staff resides in small slums near the buildings. “We went to these slums in the night, and we discovered that 6-7 people are living under one tin shed and are managing with just a couple of blankets.”
He said that in Delhi, near All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) there are a few Rain Basera (shelter homes) in which many out-station people who come to get their family members treated, stay. These are the people who can not afford to stay in hotels and at times these people are forced to make roads their shelter if they do not get accommodations.
“We spoke to the shelter home manager who informed us about these places, where many people end up staying and after getting details of these places we prepared a list of the areas and number of people who require blankets,” said Prakash.
Lamenting about the number of homeless people in Delhi, he said that in Delhi and Noida, donation of even lakhs of blankets would not suffice the need of people. “We did not have that many blankets, so for us, it was important to chart out a proper plan. To reach out to the most deprived.”
The NGO also contacted the contractors of slums in Noida. “There is a hierarchy in these slums as well, and a few are still earing better than rest. So our priorities were to reach out to the women who are the sole breadwinners of their family. And then it was the people who did not have a proper income.”
14-day drive by the Good Samaritans
After making the beneficiary list the NGO with there 30 good samaritans, decided to roll out their drive. On December 23, the drive took place in the first phase of Sector 74 Noida. “The youngest volunteer who participated in the drive was a 13-year-old Aviman P Singh, who did not deter to accompany us, despite the extrema cold at night. The young boy claimed that it is his school that has motivated him to help needs.” The next day on December, 25, the ‘Kill the chill’ drive took place near Sector 79 area. This was followed by a third drive at a blind school at Sultanpuri.
When asked why did the NGO choose the schools as part of the drive, Prakash said, “We had celebrated Diwali with them and noticed that they don’t have enough blankets. That is why we included the school as well.”
The fourth drive took place near AIMS area in Delhi on December 27, and for the last drive, the NGO had chosen the area near Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in the heart of Delhi. However, a tragedy that had taken place in a slum changed there plan.
“We initially thought that we would go to Bangla Sahib, but on December 3 a fire had broken out at a slum in Noida. One of a resident of the slum worked in our building, who then informed us about the situation of the slum. We decide to go to the slum, and when we reached there, the site was horrifying.”
According to Prakash, hundreds of shanties gutted in the fire, left many people homeless. He said that as soon as his team reached the spot they saw that in the hitting cold of Delhi many were shivering without blankets.
“We had a limited number of blankets, so we decided to provide blankets to the families whose houses were gutted in the mishap. These were other people who were distributing food and clothes to these people.”
Efforts that helped many
Prakash further said that for many the NGO volunteers, it was their first time on a drive like that and all of them had overwhelming experience helping these people. He says that were many inspiring stories that came forward. He said that when they went to donate blankets, no one was snatching it from their hand and were patiently waiting for their turn. He said with dignity same accepted it and some people did not accept the blankets and took the team to the people, who they think actually are in need of it.
After distributing the blankets the team again went back to some of these places to check if these people were using the blankets or not. “In one of the phase, we meet a man, who runs a roadside juice shop, whom we had given a blanket. We were shocked to see that he was still in his old rugged sweater, however, he gave his blanket to his dog, who was nicely covered in it. We then provided him with another blanket.” Prakash further said that these people have heart-wrenching stories and hope that many more people join him so that they can help more and more people.
The Logical Indian appreciates NGO Sarvahitey effort for the people and would ask more people to help their team in their endeavours.