“We can’t help everyone… But everyone can help someone.” -Dr Loretta Scott
What?: A charity drive driven by a volunteer outreach group
When?: 1st week of January, ’17
Where?: Streets of Bengaluru
Why?: For the greater good
How?: Described down below
Last month I was humbled to be a part of a charity drive across the midnight streets of winter-ridden Bengaluru, an initiative of my good friend.
Now Bengaluru had faced a shivering winter this time around, peaking in the months of December and January.
Figures like the one below were everyday regulars for the last two months.
This is not a particularly very cold temperature for all of us – sitting comfortably in our homes with a thick quilt on top of us – like you and I – you reading this inside a warm blanket and I typing this out while I am covered in a sweater feeling not the slightest prick of the cold.
But for a few underprivileged people living in certain pockets of the city in either of the categories:
(a) Thatched roadside homes
(b) Nomads seeking shelter on the streets en-route
(c) Poor travelers who sleep on the railway station
It is a real challenge for them to get through that single night in the chillness that is winter.
Now these are not permanent dwellers on the streets – they are nomadic in nature, staying in one place for 1/2/3 days and travel along and poor at the same time that they cannot afford much of their basic needs of three square meals a day, leave alone a thick, woolen winter blanket.
Among them are also children, and even newborns, who sadly do not have access to a blanket to keep them from the cold.
This is where Friends Of Bengaluru comes in – identifying such pockets of people – the most underprivileged ones (including and especially children and senior citizens) – and providing them a woolen blanket.
Friends Of Bengaluru is a charity group that operates through volunteer outreaching.
It has been providing blankets to the needy and underprivileged mentioned above since 2013 on a yearly basis.
This time, it happened on 14th January, 2017.
|Time Taken In Hours||3|
The journey started at 11:00pm local time with my friend, the organizer, giving an overview of the plan.
31 people were divided among 7 cars with pens and papers in hand (I will reveal later what purpose this had).
Moreover, it was made sure that each car had at least one person speaking the local language. This was hardly any hassle, given the suave cosmopolitan that Bengaluru is, most people were multi-lingual anyway.
The toughest part is to find the first pocket of homeless people. It proved to be true this time around too, taking quite some time to identify the genuinely needy people.
Once they were spotted, volunteers from the first car dropped out to inspect the authenticity. After a signal, all volunteers popped out of their cars (except for one who stayed back) with blankets in hand ready to be distributed.
Soon as the desired numbers were given, it was important to get back onto the car and keep moving on – else a mob mentality takes over and many of the well-to-do (comparatively) come seeking for blankets too. This was not possible – only limited number of blankets were in hand.
“Service to mankind is akin to service to God.” -Mahatma Gandhi
It was disheartening to see even little children without the cover of a blanket. They were given first priority and blankets were wrapped around. And then there were some with cases of injuries due to which they were unable to move from their thatched roadside houses they come to call homes until they get cured and regain the strength.
But what was heartening to see was the glow of happiness on their faces once they were gifted with a woolen blanket. They bowed and brought their hands together in gratitude.
A truly humbling experience.
“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world.”
So all in all, 200 blankets were distributed across the city by 31 volunteers in 7 cars within 3 hours to the most underprivileged and deserving categories of people mentioned earlier.
Their initial shock of being woken up slightly at the wee hours of the midnight quickly was replaced by a look of gratitude and warmth – something that left a feeling of satisfaction in all of us volunteers that we have contributed to society – given back to society in some way or the other.
Now for the pen and paper that each car had – this was for collecting the details of people inflicted with leprosy. Any contact details of theirs was taken down so that, going forward, Friends Of Bengaluru can work on getting treatment for them – if things fall into place.
Signing off with Winston Churchill’s famous quote:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”