We live in an age of such cynicism and negativity that most of us would admit to a twinge of doubt when we wish to give back to society through a financial contribution. Many find it hard to believe that there are people out there who have devoted their lives to a cause or to alleviate the suffering or exploitation of others. How do we distinguish between those doing genuine work from the ones who have made NGO-work their publicity vehicle?
Arusha Creations, led by Eknath Satpurkar, its founder, has done the job for us. It took the form of a tele-serial called Tapasya, which show-cased 52 carefully selected NGOs that are doing selfless work. The NGOs featured in this series had no government or foreign funding, nor had they won any major awards then. But each episode was a gift of love, which gave the NGO a professionally created profile, without fake glorification or needless understatement. Tapasya been telecast by Doordarshan’s Sahyadri channel and was re-telecast by ZEE24Taas.
Mr Satpurkar says that the series was entirely self-funded (about Rs1.10 crore, some of which they recovered through advertising during the telecast) by his company. He believes that it is “our duty to bring to light such selfless services to the society, so that the society also can contribute to the cause in any form physical or financial.” He also managed to get some famous personalities from the Marathi film and literary world to anchor various episodes or compose the theme song.
To ensure ongoing reach and support, the Tapsaya series has now been made available as a set of DVDs plus a booklet of information about the NGOs covered in the series. You can buy the set at the address below.
Mr Satpurkar says that a Mumbai builder was so impressed with the Tapasya series that he presented the DVD sets to homebuyers while handing over the keys of their flats. Latur-based Samvedna Cerebral Palsy Vikasan Kendra, run by Suresh and Deepa Patil, a simple couple, was stunned by a phone call from an overseas Indian, who was so impressed with their work, that he funded a two-acre plot of land and a three-storey building to help the organisation expand its work.
“The Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly also bought DVD sets of Tapasya and distributed it among members of legislative assembly (MLAs) requesting them to spend their funds on such NGOs instead of routine, road, water and sanitation works,” Mr Satpurkar says.He shared a touching story on how these people behind the NGOs think. He said, “I invited Sunil Deshpande of Sampoorna Bamboo Kendra to Mumbai. But he flatly rejected my invitation. When asked about the reason, Mr Deshpande told me, it would cost him around Rs2,000 to visit Mumbai; instead he would use the money as yearly expenses for an Adivasi child’s education.”
The first set of DVDs contains 26 episodes on NGOs like Samvedna, Udyog Vardhini from Solapur, Sampoorna Bamboo Kendra from Melghat area which has generated livelihood in the malnourished region by training artisans in bamboo handicraft. Then there is Bhatke Vimukta Vikas Pratishthan (BVVP) from Osmanabad which works at education and self-employment of neglected tribes like Paradhi, Bhill and Vaidu. Samtol Foundation (from Mumbai) and Chaitanya Mahila Mandal (from Pune) also feature in the first DVD set, among others.
The second set provides information about 26 other NGOs that are working relentlessly across Maharashtra to help the society. These include: Manohar Dole Foundation from Narayangaon (in Pune district), Aatpadi, Sangli-based Sheti Pariwar Kalyan Sanstha, Palawi-Prabha-Hira Pratishthan (from Pandharpur) that provides shelter and care for children affected by AIDS. Gramvikas Samiti (from Baripada in Dhule district) and, Satkarma Shraddhshray (from Panvel) that runs several service centres for tribals, Parivartan Mahila Sanstha (from Titwala), which focuses on women empowerment, Vijaya Pariwar (from Nagpur) and Aadhaarteerth Aadhrashram (from Trimbakeshwar, Nashik), among others.
If you are an individual, buy the DVD and check out the work being done by India’s unsung heroes. If you are a corporate house or a charitable organisation, you have a fantastic database of genuine organisations that deserve your support.
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