In times when religious and political affiliations are creating divisions between people, the Khalsa Group’s Langar Aid, based out of the United Kingdom, has transcended boundaries. For over a year, Langar Aid has been traversing Europe to reach Syria, and providing food for Syrian refugees. The idea is an extension of the Sikh tradition of langar — a common kitchen where free food is served to all irrespective of their socio-religious backgrounds. The group majorly made up of Sikhs, has been feeding 14,000 to 16,000 refugees every day for the past year. Initially, they started by giving away home-cooked meals, but later switched to readymade foods like bread to cope with shortage of supplies. Currently located 10 km from the Syrian border in Duhok, the group enjoys the local government’s support in the form of free power supply. Its noble enterprise has also found takers in Europe as help is pouring in from Greece and Serbia, and gradually the rest of Europe.
WORMING THE GOOD EARTH
Once a dry rocky district in Tamil Nadu, Dharmapuri is now host to a forest where ficus, chiku, bamboo, custard apple, guava and aloe vera grow. It’s all due to the initiative of Piyush Sethia, who converted the dry lands into fertile soil with the help of earthworms. The saplings he planted soon became trees, and the arid area became a forest. Apart from creating a better environment, he was also able to provide seasonal employment to many villagers by harvesting bamboo and creating products to be sold in the market. Sethia has gone ahead and convinced many of his friends to buy plots of the land, converting his single-handed endeavour into a co-operative one. His dream is to engender a reverse migration, with city folk relocating to rural areas to enjoy nature at her best. His efforts have already started bearing fruit. People have started trickling into the cooperative forest to stay in thatched huts to try out the experience..
MENDING OUR WAYS
Potholed roads that cause accidents and traffic jams are a common sight in our country. Requests to fix them are habitually ignored by the civic authorities. In that light it was uncommonly brave of a home guard to come forward and take up the thankless job. Ms Padmavati, who reports to Kulai Traffic Police in Mangalore, is being considered in a new light for doing more than what her duty calls for. Seeing the poor condition of the road around Baikampady industrial area, Padmavati had in vain made repeated pleas to the concerned bodies. Eventually taking things in her own hands, she raised funds to procure the raw material for construction. When the labourers did not turn up for the job, the home guard started repairing the potholes by herself in the sweltering heat. She was cheered on by sympathisers such as bystander Nikhil Pai. Apart from supplying her with water and snacks as a token of gratitude, he also lent a helping hand.
GURUKUL IN THE PARK
Retirement was not a good enough excuse to hold Vimla Kaul back from walking the path of education and awareness. Vimla, an 80-year-old former English teacher, was appalled by the lack of literacy in the children of Madanpur Khadar, a village in Delhi, after a casual visit to the place. Trying to create avenues for their education, she began imparting lessons in parks. Soon she had also hired a local teacher who would take care of the children’s studies in her absence. Having started with just five children, currently Kaul has 110 students on her rolls, whose education she ensures with the aid of volunteers. When her makeshift school had faced the prospect of shutting down because the classes were being held in public parks, Malviya Trust came to her rescue and built a school with four rooms. Gradually her husband, friends and family, also pitched in with donations to help her impart free education to students, up to the second grade.