We subject ourselves to a number of things each day that are beyond our control. The places we go to, the mode of transportation we use, the public facilities we rely on, the food we eat, the existential crisis of those we see on daily basis; if only we could make a difference to those who need us most.
Dealing with challenges on a daily basis can be exhausting, but what do we do other than theorise about what can be done? Do we act on them? Do we sit and mull over a perfect solution? Do we garner facts to fight it?
But some people walk the talk rather than sit back and discuss what can be done.
1. Namita Gupta
An IIT Delhi alumnus who relocated from the US to Delhi, Namita Gupta had to survive on antibiotics owing to the burgeoning pollution in the city. So instead of bemoaning the problem and leaving it in the hands of the government, Namita decided to create an app Ayurveda that helps monitor air pollution levels and is quite simple to operate.
2. Bilal Ahmad Dar
18-year-old Bilal Ahmad Dar is the face of the campaign that’s cleaning Kashmir’s Wular Lake single handily. After losing his father at an early age, Bilal began supporting his family by doing odd jobs, he decided that cleaning the river was his calling.
Filled with toxic debris, plastic, animal carcasses, and more, the Wular has been on the verge of dying, and had reduced from 273 km to just 72 km of water expanse; today, it’s only hope is Bilal and his efforts.
3. Dr Issa Fathima Jasmine
This 34-year-old orthodontist from Chennai kick-started a mission by asking everyone to ‘feed others before they eat’. As part of the ‘Ayyamittu Unn’ initiative, a community fridge was set up in Chennai’s Besant Nagar where almost anyone can come, open the gate and pick whatever they want, without having to ask or beg for food. The fridge is open all days from 7 am to 9 pm and is for anyone who is in need.
4. Project Patradya
Project Patradya is about producing baked cups, bowls, and spoons using healthy grains such as ragi, millet and wheat and this is not the only good thing about it. In a bid to eradicate the use of plastic from our society, students from Delhi’s Kirori Mal College are producing edible cutlery and have hired women refugees from Afghanistan to do it. They’re fighting poverty with a crusade against plastic.
5. Richa Singh
Another IIT alumni, Guwahati-born Richa started YoutDost, a website that serves as an emotional support system for people who have no one to talk to or are going through depression. People on the forum discuss their problems and get feedback and answers from qualified experts.
She now has over 300 regular clients on the page and is working day and night to help these people.
6. Surya Prakash Rai
Rai established PRAYOG, a library in Bihar in May 2013 to give back to society via education. Initially, space catered to only 400 students who could choose from an array of books to read and study from. Today, however, that number has grown exponentially.
The aim of the library is to change the way students and their parents think of education; eradicate the caste system, and have people study together towards a bigger goal. Now many underprivileged students come here to pursue their goals.
7. Vikas Plakkot
All work and no play will make Jack a dull boy, isn’t that true? To give every child the right to play, Vikas came up with ‘Just for Kicks’ in Pune in 2011. Catering to over 1,200 children, JFK uses football as a means to help build skills for children who come from low-income families. It also encourages parents and teachers to make the sport a crucial part of learning for kids.
8. Suresh Adiga
We all know about the problems farmers in India face. In recent times, over 3,000 farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra alone due to the crisis, with no help from the government or private organizations.
Suresh’s Vidarbha raises funds to help the victims of these families. The organisation also coordinates with the administration, judiciary, legislature, human rights bodies, and international forums to pitch in money and help of any kind.
9. Sushobhan Mukherjee
A lot of sports professional are unable to sustain their careers due to lack of funds and support from the government. When boxer Sarita Devi refused her boxing bronze medal during the Asian Games last year, it was Sushobhan Mukherjee, a Singapore-based marketer, who acted on the problem. Within minutes, he kick-started a campaign to raise funds and support her. He raised almost Rs 1.7 lakh from 113 supporters spread across the world.
10. Swapnil Chaturvedi
The man behind ‘Samagra’, Swapnil calls himself a “Chief Toilet Cleaner”. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Swapnil is bringing clean toilets to the underprivileged. His work has already benefited from 5,100 urban poor and is slowly expanding. Through the principals of human centred design, he is improving the condition of the community.
11. Ria Sharma
Now a famous someone, Ria is the founder of the ‘Make Love Not Scars’ campaign that aims at helping acid attack survivors. Through the programme, they can showcase their talents and make a living. It’s a widely popular camping where a lot of people come to appreciate their work. So far, it has raised about Rs1 crore for the survivors.
If it wasn’t for these Indians, this world would have been a dark place.
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