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.
How harrowing life can be for a woman without family support can be gauged from the plight of Mamta Devi, a resident of Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh. She lost her husband 10 years ago. Since then, she has been living a life of misery. Her husband’s employer Madan had offered them land to live on, but when Mamta’s husband died without having cleared his dues, Madan started pressurising Mamta to leave the land. Later, Mamta learnt that the land actually belonged to the state government.
Madan, as per Mamta, sent his goons and demolished Mamta’s house, but she was undaunted and vowed to fight on. She approached the local administrative authorities and following their intervention, was able to remain on her land. However, with her house destroyed, she found shelter in a shanty made up of tarpaulin sheets. Her makeshift shelter has had no roof, no walls, no doors, no water and no washroom for years. She has been living in this hellhole for the past nine years under constant threat of eviction from here too.
After visiting her house, we were intrigued by empty buckets being placed here and there. Later, we came to know that those buckets were there for collecting rainwater that keeps on gushing into Mamta’s house. The chances of the culprits who broke her house down being made to rebuild the house are vanishing with every passing day. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has tried to draw the attention of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan towards Mamta’s troubles and called for his intervention in providing her a proper residence, but nothing has been done yet.
As per Mamta, Madan and his goons did not stop at trying to drive her out of her home; they tried to destroy her livelihood too. The hooligans broke her only source of income: a sewing machine. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has gifted Mamta a brand new and modern sewing machine.
Her house is in such a dilapidated condition that it is next to impossible for her to go out for work. By presenting her with a sewing machine, the foundation ensured that she had something to work with right away and some means to piece together her life.
When one of our team members reached Mamta with the sewing machine, she nearly cried out of happiness. It is this happiness on the faces of the downtrodden that keeps us going and is our ultimate prize. We have pledged to support Mamta in the future as well. Do support us so that we can save more people like Mamta from a life of pain, fear and despair.
Meanwhile, our struggle to get her a proper house, remains.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has come to the rescue of hundreds of individuals and families, helping them to stand on their feet and tide over debilitating adversities. Among achievements we are most proud of, is the establishment of ‘Durga Kuteer’.
The grocery kiosk derives its name from Durga, a woman in her twenties who cannot walk without crutches, but still is possibly the most enthusiastic person we have ever met. Indeed, like Goddess Durga herself, the Durga we know and admire, possesses a never-say-die spirit that has helped her to rise above difficulties. Every time.
Durga used to make LED bulbs for a living along with her brothers Sachin and Ravi in Delhi’s Shiv Vihar area. Her mother is a housewife, while her father died years ago.
Durga and her family made bulbs and sold them at nearby stores. Incredibly, even though Durga had a handicap and could not talk, she used to join her brothers in distribution of the bulbs. She always wanted to go out for work.
Her life was pretty uneventful, but then disaster struck. Both her brothers passed away within a few months of each other. While Sachin died in an accident, Ravi could not bear the loss of his brother and passed away too. Durga’s brothers were like an umbrella for the family, especially after the death of their father. Now, that umbrella was no longer there, snatched away by cruel fate.
Durga was shattered and all alone to fend for herself and look after her mother.
One of our volunteers, Kartikeya, learnt about her plight from a Facebook post and reached the family earlier this year (2021).
We decided to build an earning source for them. We gifted Durga a grocery kiosk in front of her house. The kiosk was built a little bigger than usual so that Durga could fit into it easily along with her wheelchair. We got it fully stocked. Before opening it for the public, Durga requested for a havan ceremony. We arranged that for her as well.
When riots broke out in Shiv Vihar last year, mobs damaged Durga’s wheelchair. She was perhaps saved by the grace of Goddess Durga. Shiv Vihar, one of the epicentres of the Delhi riots, saw many families being affected. People were killed, assaulted and their shops were vandalised.
After our help, Durga has been able to get back to earning a living. Kartikeya, who passes by her shop almost every day, finds Durga sitting in her wheelchair and waving happily.
This happiness and sense of satisfaction are what makes our ‘sewa’ worthwhile. We always make it a point to help a family in such a way that it brings about a perceptible change in their lives.
Lokesh Kumar never imagined that selling biryani would land him in soup. After all, it was a business that sustained him and his family. However, a rude shock awaited the man, who belongs to a scheduled caste, from Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Buddha Nagar.
On December 13, 2019, three upper-caste men mercilessly beat up Lokesh, damaged his cart and threw his utensils on the road. They also hurled casteist slurs at Lokesh. The assaulters also took away his income of the day.
The video of the incident went viral, triggering tension between the Dalits and upper castes, and warlike hashtags like #chamatta_biriyani_wahi_bechega and #Manuwadi_pigs started floating on the Internet.
The accused were arrested after political intervention, but no monetary relief was provided to Lokesh and his family. Lokesh, who is the father of four daughters and a three-month-old son, had to stop work after the incident.
One of our founders, Swati Goel Sharma, met Lokesh and reported the incident in detail. Then, our other founder, Sanjeev Newar, came to Lokesh’s aid. He took the case to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. The commission soon granted Lokesh a relief of Rs 50,000.
A visibly happy Lokesh thanked Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation after receiving the first grant of Rs 25,000. He said that the amount arrived at a very crucial time, allowing him to pay for his treatment.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has always made it a point to stand behind those who have suffered simply due to the accident of birth in a ‘low’ caste.
Lokesh approached us for help also when his business was hit badly in the Covid-induced lockdown. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation rushed to Lokesh’s help again. Not only that, the foundation rendered support to many others from Lokesh’s colony, most of whom are daily wage earners. We made sure that no family went hungry.
Please support us and our work, and we will try to make sure that nobody faces the brutality that Lokesh did\\\\\\\\. We are and will always be there to help.
The riots that broke out in northeast Delhi were the worst nightmare for many. They revived the age-old tensions between the two largest communities in India. The riots left many families devastated or distressed.
One of them was Narendra‘s.
Narendra used to run a cart where he sold momos. On the day of the attack, he parked his cart at his usual spot, knowing nothing of what was in store.
When violence was unleashed on the streets around him, Narendra felt the unrest. He decided to leave the place and go home. However, he could not rush as he needed to take the cart along with him – his only means of earning.
On the way, someone splashed a liquid at him. That liquid soon trickled down his face and reached his hands. Soon, it started burning. Narendra says he felt as if someone was burning him alive.
His skin turned red. It started showing patches of burns. He rushed to his house, screaming in pain. Narendra realized it was no harmless liquid. It was acid, or an acid-like liquid. Memories of that day still give him nightmares.
We learnt about Narendra during out riot-rehab drive in the area soon after the violence ended. Being a poor vendor, he had faced much more than just burns. The acid attack meant that he could not sell momos for weeks to come.
We helped him with an immediate relief fund so he could get his medication done and other needs fulfilled.
We at Sewa Nyaya Utthan are working towards creating a better society, where hatred has no place to survive. We cannot change the mindset of anti-social elements overnight, but we can work to ease the pain of those who fall victim to hate.
Rahul was preparing diligently for his Class 10 Board examination last year. His father Vinod Giri had dedicated himself to religious service, doing Jagran (nightlong vigil, song and dance) in temples, while his mother is a housewife.
Staying in a single-room accommodation with his parents in Delhi’s Shiv Vihar Phase-6, Rahul had invested much of his time and energy into his studies.
Delhi at that time was in the grip of deadly riots over the Citizenship Amendment Act. Rahul had gone to buy stationery for the Board examination. It was the first big examination of his life and he was both nervous and excited. However, little did he imagine the fate that was awaiting him on the streets that day.
The hapless teenager unknowingly veered right into the midst of the riot. A bloodthirsty mob threw an acid-like liquid on Rahul. His face immediately started burning. He touched his face and his hands started to burn too.
Some kind-hearted people from the neighbourhood called up Rahul’s father and informed him about the incident. They also took Rahul, who was writhing in pain, home. Rahul’s skin had started to turn red. He rushed under running tap water, but the pain did not subside.
By this time, the pain had become so excruciating, that Rahul was crying uncontrollably. Rahul’s father rushed home, and his mother applied a mixture of oil and camphor over the burnt patches of skin. The next day, Rahul was taken to a local doctor.
We came across Rahul and his family and got to know about their ordeal during our rehabilitation drive following the Delhi riots. We found Rahul’s family in a precarious condition and immediately arranged for funds. We met similar other families that had lost everything in the riots and were scarred physically, materially and mentally.
Rahul’s father says that the trauma of the attack has not diminished his passion for studies and he is getting ready for his Class 12 examination this year (2021). However, he still shudders to visit the stationery shop, where he used to go regularly before the attack last year.
Every day, in the course of our work among the downtrodden and victimised sections of society, we come across many people like Rahul, who have been living in fear and pain. Consider supporting us so that we can help bring smiles back to their lips.