Sakaar Sewa Samiti acts as a catalyst for change and inspires people in rural UP
Temsutula Imsong from Nagaland has many admirers on Twitter for her inspirational posts and photographs about the transformation of various ghats of Varanasi. #MissionPrabhughat is the hashtag for a story of transformation of this ghat from being an unholy place stinking of excreta to a beautiful, crowd-funded initiative undertaken by Temsutula, Darshika Shah and a team of dedicated volunteers.
The duo, along with many other ‘friends’ like Shailesh Pandey (who retired from the Indian Navy), and other serving and retired servicemen, is part of an NGO called Sakaar Sewa Samiti. Registered as a society, Sakaar aims to promote rural development, create employment opportunities and set up educational institutions to reduce migration to cities. It hopes to do this while maintaining the simplicity of rural life.
The recognition received by #Mission Prabhughat, which the Sakaar team acknowledges was inspired by prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, also got Temsutula invited to meet the PM along with 150 others. “We want to make #MissionPrabhughat a model for others to emulate—in terms of finances, efficiency, execution and every other facet that concerns cleanliness,” wrote Darshika Shah in an article recently. While the team ensures that ‘offenders’ dirtying the ghat are given buckets to clean up the mess they have created, the problem of open defecation remains.
The widespread recognition of #MissionPrabhughat has encouraged the team to undertake initiatives relating to cleanliness and preservation of water bodies. It will also continue to work in the villages to promote hygienic practices like hand-washing and keeping the surroundings clean, as well as forming self-help groups to strengthen the rural economy.
The message of Sakaar has begun to reach the public near Varanasi and Ms Imsong says that “now people share their problems with us and they actively ask people not to litter the ghats. This is so positive and such a change from their indifference when we started.”
Among the early challenges that the NGO faced was, “Getting together people who could understand the idea behind Sakaar as these people were from various states and their pursuits in life were totally different,” says Ms Imsong.
What seems to work for Sakaar is its strong social media presence, which has enabled it to crowd-fund its initiatives through dedicated supporters across the country. They are able to follow its activities through regular updates with a steady stream of photographs and posts on social media. It allows supporters to watch the transformation unfold and see their money being utilised effectively.
Sakaar was initially funded by a close-knit group of friends who support its initiatives. They (Radha Raju, Manoj Sirsa, Girish Singh, Shishir Bajpai, Harsh Chaturvedi, Abhishek Dwivedi, Shiv Mishra, Dr Satya Saraswat and many others) pitch in whenever the need arises, sums up Imsong.
During the Uttarakhand floods, Sakaar managed to put up a ropeway at Relgaon near Fata. This was really a case study of people coming together to do something for others. This ropeway is still being used and benefits about 11 villages.
Organic farming and spice processing are the two activities that Sakaar is planning to take up in Varanasi. Sakaar is making a humongous effort to change the lives of the poor and give them a life of dignity!
Readers are welcome to donate to Sakaar, provided they are Indian citizens and have a PAN card. Donations are exempt under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act.
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