Education and healthcare are basic necessities for a child to live a good life. While most of us enjoy these facilities failing to understand its importance, there are a few who can only dream of it.
To address this, along with other social issues, Born 2 Help, a volunteer-based group, is working tirelessly to improve the quality of lives.
According to Born 2 Help founder Barun Paul, slum children are the victim of malnutrition and poor sanitation. Barun discovered that conducting drives in rural India, spending time with children and teaching them simple day to day activities related to hygiene like brushing teeth and washing hands can make a significant impact on their lives.
Currently, Born 2 Help is spread across major cities in India like Bengaluru, Jamshedpur, Kharagpur, Kolkata, and Delhi with 150 active volunteers. For their work, the group has received multiple titles and a lot of appreciation from across the country.
Inception Of Born 2 Help
Born 2 Help, which began in 2015, was the brainchild of Barun Paul. However, the roots for helping the helpless dates back to Barun’s school days.
In his school days, Barun used to raise funds for NGOs such as HelpAge India and Blind Persons’ Association. As he grew up, his penchant for helping the needy became stronger. When he was pursuing engineering from the West Bengal University of Technology, he could go to the villages in the vicinity to teach children in the weekends.
An engineering degree landed him in Bengaluru with a job at a famous MNC – Honeywell – in 2007. Paul was a member of Honeywell’s CSR team. Every weekend, he used to go to various government schools in the nearby districts to set up science labs as part of Honeywell’s CSR activity.
It is there that he saw the condition of schools and was exposed to the real hardships that the children faced. There were also several health camps that Paul oversaw. However, the results of these activities were not to the likes of Paul. Later on, he tried to work with a few NGOs in the city. But Paul felt the NGOs failed to protect the interest of these kids.
“One day, when my wife and I were in a car at a traffic signal, we saw kids selling sundry items on the roadside. A few of them even approached the waiting vehicles,” said Paul.
“The plight of these kids trying to sell these items to meet their day’s end made me want to teach them,” he added.
Paul and his wife started a roadside school to teach these kids. However, things were not smooth at the beginning.
“We had to convince the kids at first and were always worried about goons showing up at any time,” he said.
After a lot of effort and convincing, the couple managed to get five students into their class on November 14, 2015 (Children’s Day). This was the day Born 2 Help started.
By January 2016, they were teaching 35 children. This is when Born 2 Help started recruiting volunteers. They created their Facebook page on January 1, where a lot of well-wishers came forward to help the group. As of now, they have conducted drives across 56-60 slums and have imparted knowledge to more than 1,000 children.
The group has also worked with HIV and cancer patients and raised money for their treatment. They also set up various health camps, where they distribute basic medicine and health supplements to patients. They give kids free home-cooked meals, blankets, sanitary pads, and educational material every month.
No Money Policy & Future Plans
On being asked how they handle the volunteers, Paul said, “We have WhatsApp groups for various locations., where we put out all the information required to conduct a drive.”
Paul also mentioned that there are two policies he has inculcated in the group. First, they (volunteers) will be apolitical while working for the group, and the second one is the “No money policy”.
Explaining the latter, he said, “We don’t ask for money from our donors but rather ask them to provide us with commodities like soap, toiletries, sanitary pads, health drinks etc. This way, the donor will not feel that their hard-earned money is being misused.”
“We now have one informal school in Jamshedpur where 60 students come to seek education for free, but we want to have more such schools in various parts of the country,” Paul said.
He also said that he aims to set up a shelter home for all the homeless people.
Here are some of the projects Born 2 Help is tirelessly working on:
Samatva – Free of Cost informal school over the weekend for underprivileged children. Born 2 Help conducts Basic Hygiene Session for kids and provides Hygiene kits monthly across multiple slums in Kharagpur, Jamshedpur, Bangalore and Kolkata. They have more than 500 students across the four cities and a database recording the details of more than 1,000 children together with their educational accomplishments.
Janani – The initiative aims at supporting pregnant women with proper food, medicines and doctor consultation.
Arogya – Free of Cost clinic for the homeless and underprivileged. Regular clinic set up in Kharagpur railway station for the cause. Another group of volunteers with the same clinic goes to different villages and multiple locations in Kharagpur to provide free medical treatment.
Project Sindhu – In this project, the group is working for the overall development, including skill development and medical camps, of an Adivasi Village.
The Hunger Warriors – Born 2 Help volunteers distribute freshly cooked homemade food across Kharagpur in multiple slums. The biweekly activity distributes more than 1,500 packets every week.
Annapurna – One that is very close to heart of Founder Barun Paul, under project Annapurna. free food is served outside OPD of Kharagpur Sub-divisional hospital for people who come for treatment every Saturday.
Khwahish – Under this initiative, the group is selling a piece of clothing in exchange for a smile.. Currently the initiative is active in Kolkata, Kharagpur and Jamshedpur.
Drona- Under project Drona, Born 2 Help provides free tuitions to students who cannot afford private tuition. There is a network of private tutors in Kharagpur to support underprivileged students.
Walkathon – Walk for hope – it is the biggest Walkathon in Kharagpur. It is a fund raiser for cancer patients conducted on every World Cancer Day.
“In the past two years we have raised Rs 6.3 lakh and supported 14 patients for their treatment,” said Barun.