Rahul Kamat of TNV talks to Crishnaa Verenkar about her NGO and her journey in the field of social work
Q. Tell us about yourself?
– I have completed my BA in Sociology and I am also planning to pursue my Masters in Social Work, but right now I am working as a photographer with Melba Photography in Benaulim.
Q. How the idea of starting an NGO cOme to your mind?
– During my school days, I always wanted to start an NGO which would cater to animals as well as humans because I feel these two elements co-exist on earth and we have to live in harmony with every being. So, just focusing on animals wouldn’t really help because there are some people who are in need for attention. The whole idea of NGO came into being because I was in depression. So my psychiatrist told me, in order to distract myself from that I had to get involved with something else. When I was in a market, I saw cows eating plastic and just then I spotted a garbage truck which came and took away all the green waste from the market. Then, I came up with an idea to collect all the green waste and feed it to the cattle. So with the help of my friends we started collecting the green waste from the vegetable and fruit vendors. The name of our NGO is ‘Healers’ because it’s like a process of healing yourself by healing others. Whichever member that joined our group was a depression patient and now they are doing fine. That’s why the tagline of our NGO is ‘hope help and heal’.
Q. What are the projects that your NGO has undertaken so far?
– We have worked on different projects and to make it attractive for the people, we started naming every project. The first project was ‘Green Munch’ wherein we fed the stray cattle with green waste. The second project was ‘Bark With Me’ under which we approached colleges and started dog vaccination programme in the colleges. Our next project was named ‘Nanhe Taare, as one of our group members came up with an idea of doing something for the children, wherein we conduct classes for underprivileged children, organise picnics, study tours to museums etc. We also have a project by name ‘Happy Belly’ in which we provide food to the homeless people every day.
Q. After your start-up projects, where do you think your NGO stands now? Do you have plans for expansion?
– Right now we are functioning pretty well and we are also planning to register our NGO which will help us in the long run. And since all our projects are doing fantastic, we are also looking for a place where we will set-up our office to start a full-time organisation. Presently we are not working full-time and we are doing it only on Sundays.
Q. How do you generate funds?
– Since we are on Facebook there are many people who send us donations. Currently we have two people who help us financially, one is Sakshi Kudchadkar from Panaji who has helped us a lot and our NGO is functioning because of her and there is a lady from Dubai, who is actually a Goan, her name is Jennifer and she too provides us a lot of funds. Even my mother helps us as well. Then we have other people who give donations in kind, like old clothes, toys etc. instead of cash. We urge people to donate their old clothes instead of just throwing them away.
Q. Whatever you are doing right now through your NGO, do you think it would bring a change in the society?
– Firstly, it is definitely helping me as an individual and I am feeling satisfied and happy with what I am doing and secondly, the kids with whom we have worked and whom we have helped with studies and various other things, it may not bring a change to the society at large but it will definitely bring a change in the life of these kids.
Q. Do you think that the government machinery is lacking somewhere which is why you have to be active?
– I think we all have a responsibility towards the society and we cannot just blame the government. Yes, there might be certain issues where you can blame the government but I don’t know how to comment as I am really not into politics. I think that, if there is something that we can do, then we must go ahead and do it rather than waiting for the government.
Q. What message do you have for the youth?
– The youth should be more active in these things. I feel many youngsters should join our NGO, the main thing is we do not function every day, we work mainly on Sundays and just for two hours. So I think, in your entire week if you can just spend two hours, it helps a lot. I would like to urge the youngsters that if they can do something to help those in need then they should go ahead and do it. One doesn’t have to be a member of any NGO to do good things.