Small Steps Big Leaps



Eighty-one-year-old Mithalal Sindhi is a saint in his own right. He may be living on a footpath in dire poverty but he gives a dignified farewell to unclaimed bodies in Ahmedabad. Mithalal is remembered every time a body is found and remains unclaimed. Believing in only one religion — humanity — Mithalal has performed the last rites of more than 500 people in the last 45 years irrespective of their religion. He even performed the rituals for a decomposed body. Sindhi took up this philanthropic mantle when he faced problems in performing the last rites of his father who died after a long illness in a government hospital in Bhavnagar in 1958. When the rickshaw on which he used to carry the bodies was stolen about four months ago, he started hiring rickshaws to take the dead on their last journey. In most cities, this function has to be performed by the police, who too find it difficult to get funds from the authorities. When will things change?


Over 30 senior citizens have found their guardian angel in the 57-year-old Mark D’Souza. For the past three years, the Borivali office of D’Souza has been hand-delivering lunch boxes (dabbas) to each of them at their doorsteps, free of cost. Many of those he serves now live alone and have no one to care for them. D’Souza came up with the idea in 2012 while having a conversation with his wife, who contributed 5,000 so that he can start the very next day. The dabbas that go out carry wholesome food — chapatis, rice, dal, a vegetable dish and, as D’Souza likes to add, “a dollop of love”. The food is cooked with minimal salt and spices to make it easily digestible by the aged. Sometimes, he also packs desserts or sweets. On Sundays, there is a treat in the form of chicken or fish. The dabbas are always met with grateful smiles and ‘God bless you’. For D’Souza, this daily ritual is a duty he never misses, come hail or high water.


Kitchen gardens, which used to be a crucial part of traditional households, have been given a boost by none other than the Centre’s Department of Horticulture. First, it introduced kitchen gardening as a vocational subject in 500 schools in Karnataka. Next, it distributed free gardening kits consisting of vegetable seeds to 100 schools each in Mangalore, Puttur and Belthangady taluks. After tasting success, the department wants to extend its scheme to other districts. The produce from such gardens can be used by schools for mid-day meals or can be distributed among students. The department also conducted a day-long training for school authorities to make them understand the basics of kitchen gardening. The initiative was launched to inculcate interest in farming among students at a young age. Public and private schools were selected based on their interest in taking up the initiative.


On her 21st birthday, when most youngsters would be partying, commerce graduate Pavithra YS was pondering ways in which she could make a difference to society. After brainstorming various ideas with her husband, an it professional, they settled upon establishing an organisation named Vindhya that would provide employment to the differently abled. Soon, they found office space in Rajaji nagar Industrial Estate of Bangalore came into existence. Vindhya is a data processing unit with 1,200 staffers, is largely run by those with hearing and speech impairments. All employees receive training through sign language after the induction. Now in its 10th successful year of operations, Vindhya E Infomedia is a living example of how the differently abled can be part of the productive workforce.


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