COVID-19 pandemic brought the entire world to a grinding halt. With countries imposing and extending restrictions to combat the transmission of the virus, businesses shut, and savings dried up —each and every section of society has been substantially impacted but the underprivileged have suffered the most.
Families have lost sources of income, and children have dropped out of education, leading to impending poverty in the coming generations among the weaker sections. In these testing times, Sarvani, an NGO from Chandigarh, has taken the noble task of helping as many people as possible.
What's Different About This Organisation?
Sarvani stands on the spirit 'by women, for women'.
It began as a WhatsApp group of female students that grew into an organisation of change within a brief period. The founder, Drishti Kharbanda, had the vision to create an organisation where women worked in co-operation to uplift each other. "The aim was to create a sense of unity among women, to create an environment where women become the biggest supporters of each other, so they don't have to depend on the society to improve their living conditions," Drishti told The Logical Indian. She further added that women constitute 50 per cent of the population and if they could work together, not only the problems that women face could be minimised, but they could also bring tremendous positive change in our society.
A Helping Hand During The Pandemic
Sarvani has been incredibly active during the COVID pandemic in providing relief work for the affected communities. The NGO has distributed over 15,000 food packets to the needy in the urban and rural areas. It has also ensured that children do not sleep hungry in these testing times.
"All the food distributed is homemade. The food is prepared by mother in my kitchen to give it a touch of intimacy." Drishti said.
"We identified the most vulnerable of the people, including daily wage workers, to distribute foods. During the second wave, all their sources of income have impeded, and so we tried to provide some relief to them with the food," she explained.
Apart from food, the organisation also took the task of distributing medical kits and supplies. Masks, sanitisers, and other equipment were given to those in need to help them protect themselves and their families. The NGO made sure to empower women even during this social service. Hundreds of masks distributed by Sarvani were handwoven by women, thus ensuring employment to women from weaker sections of the society.
Moreover, to help women get medical access in these times of crisis, Sarvani also organised free medical camps. One such camp was organized at Hingaghat, Nagpur on July 12.
Free Education To Children Through Sarvani Pathshala
Major lapses in education amongst children belonging to the weaker sections of society have been one of the most prevalent problems of the pandemic. With schools shut, many children do not have access to resources to continue their studies in the online mode.
Sarvani Pathshala, a recent initiative of the NGO, where members of the organisation take classes for children who are not getting formal education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are divided into three categories pre-junior, junior and senior batches depending on the level of learning previously attained by them. The process is unique because, unlike common practice, the division is not based on age but on the ability of the students. Such classification ensures that the students make the most of the teachings while ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
What makes the Pathshala initiative worthwhile is the desire of the students to learn. "The children always reach the class before time and eagerly wait for the teacher to come. They are inclined towards learning and get disenchanted every time the class gets canceled due to other engagements," Drishti shared.
She said that in the early days of the lockdown, she used to see the children of daily wage workers and other weaker communities playing on the roads throughout the day. She was worried about their loss of learning as this might have forced them to drop out perpetually from formal education. It is then, Sarvani decided to come up with the initiative of tutoring the children, which has become one of the most significant campaigns of the organisation.
Pathshala Is More Than Just Education
Sarvani, through various programs, tries to give the children a holistic school atmosphere. Several co-curricular activities and formal functions are carried out from time to time to keep the learning process interesting. "We organise events to engage children in the process of comprehensive growth. Events like Annual functions are sports day are celebrated with the children with a cherished break from the routine that can become monotonous," Drishti told The Logical Indian.
"We also organise toy drives for kids. The collected toys are not merely distributed but given as a prize to children through various competitions. The idea that the child has won the toy instills a feeling of merit in them."
Organization Of Women, By Women, But For Society
On being asked about the reason to start this organisation, Drishti said, "Sarvani means universal. The name itself suggests that women are whole who can shoulder the responsibility of society as capably as men. When we started Sarvani, the goal was not to help women, but to empower them so they could help others in need."
Sarvani's social services range from issues of environmental awareness to menstrual health. Sarvani has also worked extensively in spreading awareness about the LGBTQ+ community and around pressing issues like mental health.
The events are organized by the female members of the NGO. They handle the entire process, from planning to on-field execution of any event or campaign. When girls see fellow females working for social change, it triggers a positive response from them. "Many female volunteers who have joined us were inspired by seeing the responsibility that women in the organisation shouldered," Drishti said.
A Vision For The Future
Drishti believes that the job of Sarvani in bringing social change has just begun. "The two major areas where I would like us to work is in education and women's health," said the founder.
"Currently, we run classes in an open lawn. In the future, we would want to build a school for the underprivileged. I also believe that despite recent advances, Menstrual health remains a topic of taboo in the country. Sarvani will extensively work to spread awareness about such health topics and help women in every way possible."