The first blog of the year should always start with values that we hold dear. For Desh Apnayen, one of these fundamental values is being kind.
Singer-songwriter Annie Lennox famously asks, “Have you been kind today? Make kindness your modus operandi in the world.”
Kindness and citizenship are well connected. A kind citizen sees beyond self-interests to the needs of the community; as a steward of the earth, minimises environmental impacts and demonstrates respect, empathy and compassion for all people.
We begin the new year by celebrating inspiring stories of kindness from citizens across the nation.
With the festival of Uttarayan here, we first celebrate Manoj Bhavsar’s selfless actions.
- Making festivals safer
One man in Ahmedabad has taken it upon himself to make the Uttarayan celebrations safer across the city. AC technician Manoj Bhavsar noticed a chilling trend in the accidents occurring during Ahmedabad’s kite-festival. This is how he decided to help. One morning, as he was heading towards his office on a two-wheeler, a stray kite string crossed his path. It came out of nowhere, almost slitting his neck.
“It was not a major injury, but I was scared. I kept thinking — what if it had cut my throat?” recalls Manoj.
In 2008, when the annual international kite festival came to Ahmedabad again, he noticed a 40% increase in road accidents that occurred only because of kite strings. A lady even lost her life.
This made Manoj restless. Not long after, he built a simple protection device using a copper wire, which would save the driver and also the pillion rider. He fabricated these wires for free as well. Since then, every year on Uttarayan, Manoj Bhavsar spearheads a project called ‘Mission Safe Uttarayan’. He also became a volunteer for the helpline 108 and provided first-aid to injured people and birds. Nonetheless, his mission was difficult. Finally, he managed to convince the municipality to give him permission to tie GI wires on all bridges of the city. This endeavour costs him Rs, 100,000/- per year.
He has also recently invented a neckband for the same.
To celebrate Manoj and his whole story, please read the original article by Manabi Katoch here.
- Walls of Kindness
Walls of kindness are springing up all across North Indian cities — thanks to some good Samaritans who wish to help people from underprivileged backgrounds. These citizens are coming together to set up walls in public spaces where anyone can leave clothes and other necessary supplies, and those in need can take whatever they want.
The walls are aptly called ‘Neki Ki Deewar’. Citizens who have clothes that they no longer need or use can simply deposit them at the wall. People are also leaving behind books, toys, footwear, etc. It is, in fact, a great initiative for the freezing months of winter in the north. The idea of the wall of kindness actually sprang up about a year ago during Christmas in Iran. There are many such walls in India — one in Bhilwarara, Rajasthan; three in Jaipur; and multiples others in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh; Dehradun, Uttarakand; and Korba, Chattisgarh.
A report in The Times of India quotes a rickshaw driver speaking about how this initiative has helped him. He says, “I am a rickshaw-puller and do not make enough earning to afford quality clothes for my children and wife. A friend told me about this place and I am glad to have found clothes that would fit them.”
This is a give and take between those in need and those who want to help them directly. There is only one rule – take what you need, leave what you don’t.
For more on this, please visit the original story written by Aisshwarya Subramanian on Better India.
There is so much to celebrate here. In fact living with kindness makes so much common sense as well. This month, Desh Apnayen urges you to create ‘Walls of Kindness’ in your own neighbourhood, around your school or home. Share details with us, and we will be there to support you.
This year, let’s make being kind citizens a priority.