The riots of 2020 were perhaps the worst that Delhi had seen since 1984. It destroyed lives and livelihoods and created an all-pervading atmosphere of fear and mistrust. Humaneness and compassion seemed to have become forgotten traits of the human character, bloodthirsty mobs roamed the streets and innocent people bore the brunt of a deadly power struggle.
Caught in such a vortex of a pogrom, Sonu, a tea seller from Northeast Delhi, saw his income grinding to a halt, while his life nearly stopped too. Sonu was shot by the rioters and left for dead. His tea stall was vandalised. The poor tea seller, however, refused to give up. He refused to die. He had sustained several wounds but fought on. The lengthy stay at the hospital, however, put him out of work for months. His tea stall needed immediate repairs too.
As a result of this forced loss of work, the financial condition of Sonu and his family started declining. At this point, Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation stepped in. Our volunteers met Sonu no sooner than they had come to know about his sad plight. The foundation immediately arranged for financial assistance from its riot relief fund, with which Sonu could pay his hospital expenses, recover and get back to work. Our timely assistance gave Sonu renewed hope.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has gone the distance in financially supporting families that have been torn apart by disaster. For those that had lost loved ones, our founders and sewa volunteers have been a pillar of strength, helping them tide over the trauma and counselling them back on to their feet.
The foundation has focused in a big way on rescuing the victims of riots and lockdown, standing staunchly behind families that have suffered due to no fault of theirs and whose very survival had suddenly been put in jeopardy. Do support us so that we can extend a helping hand to the poor and downtrodden sections of society, for whom life is a daily struggle.
Women who scale the heights of their careers and those who turn breadwinners for their families have always been inspirational. Their stories have become case studies. However, what often lie behind the glowing faces of the women achievers are stories of struggle, hardship and compulsion. Anybody who has watched the Julia Roberts-starrer Erin Brockovich would understand the difficulties that working women have to deal with.
Gulesh Chouhan’s tale is no different. The independent and self-driven Gulesh is one of the first female cab drivers in Delhi-NCR. Her life has been celebrated by one and all, but little does the world know that Gulesh has had to undergo tremendous ordeals to reach where she has in life.
Gulesh was happily married and a proud mother. Like any other woman in a similar situation, she was busy building a home and raising her child. Life was carefree.
Things, however, soon turned ugly. Gulesh lost her husband when she was just 27. The tragedy left her shattered, and she found herself drowning quickly in the quicksand of despair. Life, for Gulesh, had hit a dead end. Yet, it gave her no respite. She could barely grieve the loss of her husband when a thousand responsibilities were thrust upon her. Her child was now totally dependent on her. She was all that the child had; the child was all that she had. Raising a child as a widowed mother carried with it added difficulties. The child, however, tended to give Gulesh a new lease of life and she bravely took up every challenge that she was faced with. She became a cab driver and started life afresh.
We came across Gulesh during the dark days of the Covid-induced lockdown. She was hesitant at first, but gradually opened up and shared her story. We found this intrepid woman grappling with a financial crisis and wasted no time in providing help. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation immediately arranged for a relief grant, with which Gulesh was able to clear the obstacles in her way and cruise along on the highway of success.
The motto of the foundation is to ensure that monetary difficulties never become the cause for ambitions going unfulfilled, and we have helped many others like Gulesh to be always ready with answers no matter what question life poses. Do support us so that we can make sure that women like Gulesh never have to give up their decision of turning independent.
A family of blacksmiths from Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district was sent careening into the depths of despair when its main bread earner died of electrocution. The son of the household was taking the small family business forward when he was killed by electric shock.
Three years have passed in grief and misery since that tragedy. Since the demise of the youth — the only child of his parents — his father has struggled to manage the family expenses. The father is in his fifties and all at sea. The lockdown that followed the Covid pandemic added to the woes of the blacksmith family.
The family, reeling under poverty, went from pillar to post in search of help and approached the government authorities, but help was not available.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation, however, rushed to help the moment it came to know of the condition of the blacksmith family. After being apprised of the case by a Twitter user, we urgently arranged for some funds for the family, and then, took this matter to the concerned authorities in Madhya Pradesh.
Emotional support was not easy to offer. Losing a grown-up child, especially when he bears all hopes and responsibilities of the family, is a blow that can totally flatten individuals. Though we cannot bring the youth back to life and nothing that we say or do is solace enough for his family, we can at least make the life of the family less stressful.
We are thankful to the Twitter user who had shared the plight of the family with us. We need more people like him, who would be quick to provide help for people in need. Let us build a human chain whereby the needy section of society would be brought in contact with those who can afford to provide assistance and support. Come, be a sahyogi (associate) in our sewa work.
When you have passed through hell, you don’t want anybody else to face the same ordeal. When there is a means to do something, you tend to save lives. You use your bad experience as a buffer for fellow human beings against the lashes of misfortune.
Manish, a victim of the Delhi riots of 2020, is guided by such noble thoughts, and his actions bear this out distinctly. His shop was vandalised by a mob that had come armed with petrol bombs and stones. Manish escaped alive, but his shop was razed to the ground.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation came across Manish during its riot rehabilitation drive. The foundation extended monetary assistance with which Manish could stand back on his feet, and he thanked us immensely. However, that was not the end of our relationship. Manish stayed in touch with the foundation, meeting our sewa volunteers often. Considering that many of our volunteers live in the part of Delhi that was worst affected by the riots, these meetings were easy to arrange.
Manish would soon return our favour. The pandemic and the lockdown that followed destroyed livelihoods and crippled lives. The poor became poorer, the destitute plunged further into destitution. We went all out to help the needy, but our capacity was getting terribly stretched. We needed more volunteers who could take relief to everyone who needed it.
Here, Manish stepped in. He volunteered to be a volunteer for us. His work had been hampered by the lockdown, and he needed support too. Like Manish, many of our beneficiaries had turned into our resources. Some of them have participated in our feeding drives, preparing and distributing food to the hungry. Some others have acted as sewa volunteers and some have even sponsored our campaigns.
Manish shared with us the plight of the people in his area who were struggling to manage their medical expenses. The foundation decided to build a help chain and make Manish its flag bearer. We started transferring relief funds to Manish with which he started helping people from his locality who badly needed it.
This way, Manish found work, while the poor and underprivileged people in his locality got the support they required. We also benefited from Manish’s endeavour and enthusiasm. Manish is grateful that the foundation had given him the opportunity to serve mankind. Having seen how miserable life can be, Manish’s urge for service comes naturally. The foundation was also fortunate to have found a sahyogi (associate) like him. In fact, if you break the word ‘sahyogi’ into ‘sah’ and ‘yogi’, it would refer to a person who meditates with you. If work is worship, as encapsulated by the term ‘karmayogi’, a ‘sahyogi’ toils with you for the success of the work at hand. One can surely say that Manish is a sahyogi and a karmayogi par excellence.
The Covid-19 pandemic that erupted last year destroyed livelihoods, wiped out savings, snuffed out lives and broken families apart. The world stood a helpless witness to one of its biggest medical crises and the lockdown that was imposed as a desperate attempt to stem the rot served to create joblessness hardly seen before.
Prashant, who had migrated to Delhi from Bihar in search of a better living, found himself floundering in a sea of troubles as the pandemic brought the world to a standstill. Prashant used to send a part of what he earned in Delhi to his parents, who lived a life marred by poverty.
Prashant lost his job in the lockdown, which meant that although he could somehow sustain himself, he could no longer support his parents, who were solely dependent on him. Breaking the news of job loss to his parents would have broken them totally. Prashant, therefore, kept mum. Nor could he return home with such a piece of bad news. As had happened with many poverty-stricken individuals during that difficult time, Prashant was caught between a rock and a hard place. There was nowhere to go.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation entered Prashant’s life when he approached us, having witnessed the service that we had been rendering to the society during the dark days of the lockdown. We met several families during our post-pandemic rehabilitation drives. Some were deprived of ration, some needed money to pay their rents, some struggled for means of transport and most of them required two square meals a day. We have seen migrant families teetering on the verge of collapse. We provided every assistance that we could.
Prashant, therefore, came to us with a lot of hope, and we ensured that he did not go empty-handed. We extended an immediate relief grant, which Prashant sent to his parents, salvaging their lives. However, sending money to his parents was not all that Prashant needed. He required something that he could subsist on himself. We stayed in touch with Prashant to help him realise his sundry needs.
Prashant soon got his job back as the pandemic waned a bit and the government’s restrictions loosened. Prashant never gets tired of thanking us for our timely help that saved not only his life but also those of his parents. Prashant’s job loss could have driven his parents into hopelessness and uncertainty, and we ensured that such a thing did not happen.
Migrants have been some of the biggest Sewa Nyaya beneficiaries, and we have tried to make sure that they do not have to rush back to their native places in distress and desperation, with their dreams of earning a better living in a big city shattered. During these initiatives, our beneficiaries have grown a bond with us, and that is what makes our sewa unique. Do support us so that we can support more such people like Prashant who have a mountain of responsibilities on their shoulders, but lack the wherewithal to carry them out properly.
Man proposes, God disposes. And sometimes, that twist of fate is so cruel that it leaves you high and dry and in utter despair.
Nirmala Devi from Uttar Pradesh’s Balrampur has a similar story to tell. A story so poignant that it is sure to leave a lump in your throat.
All that Nirmala had ever wanted was a normal, happy life after marriage that would see her bask in the love of her husband and in-laws, raise a family and live her family life in a smooth manner. She hoped fervently that her marriage would deliver her from her hand-to-mouth existence.
Nirmala’s marriage was going well too. She had no complaints, living a contented life with her husband and child. Then, tragedy struck. Nirmala’s family was caught in a dispute with another family from the village, and it turned ugly and horrific.
The younger brother of Nirmala’s husband eloped with a woman from another religion. The woman’s brother, filled with intense hate for this interfaith relationship, hired a contract killer. The killer entered the house of Nirmala one night and slit the throats of her husband, her father-in-law and her sister-in-law.
Nirmala Was attacked too, but she escaped by the skin of her teeth. She lived to tell her tale. A distraught Nirmala however was left with deep wounds, but her bodily harm could never compare with the irreparable loss she suffered psychologically. Her loved ones were snatched away from her by a group of barbarians, who cared little for the feelings and well-being of Nirmala and her two-year-old child. Her life turned upside down and seemed absolutely destroyed.
Turning back from such a situation is often next to impossible, but hats off to Nirmala for staying courageous. Much like a drowning man who tries to clutch at straws to survive, Nirmala had nothing left in life other than her two-year-old son. When you are broken and everything seems lost, the smallest ray of light often acts as a beacon, drawing out of the darkness. Nirmala’s toddler, likewise, became her rallying point, and her reason to live.
Soon, Nirmala returned to her parents’ place, but her parents, who were struggling with penury themselves, could offer her nothing except moral support.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation came to know about Nirmala’s plight from news reports. More than a year had passed since the tragedy. We tracked her, reached out to her, heard her. We then extended monetary support.
We understand that nothing that we do, no help that we render can be balm enough for Nirmala’s trauma, but we were at least able to take some burden off her shoulders. As a single mother, struggling to cope up with a terrible shock, Nirmala has a long way to go before life gets smooth again. Till then, our help would act as a pathfinder for her, while her child continues to be her inspiration and motivation. Hopefully, she would be able to find a light at the end of the tunnel soon.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has always made it a point to come to the rescue of the victims of hate crimes. We have saved many families from being swept away by disaster and misfortune, even when we had learnt about their conditions a little late in the day. Do support our work so that we can bring succour to victims of hate crimes like Nirmala.