Vrikishit Foundation has provided rations kits, hygiene essentials, oximeters, and oxygen cylinders across Delhi and many other states.
Started in 2019 with the aim to make Delhi green and clean, Vrikshit Foundation is empowered by more than 3,000 volunteers. ” When the first wave of the pandemic had hit the country, we realized that we have the resources, but what about those who do not have any. How will they survive? Especially the daily wagers who earn R.100 a day and that’s it. So, we started with the factory workers near Rohini. We made a list and gave them enough rations.”, said Shankar, Founder of Vrikshit Foundation.
Later Shankar and his team raised funds on Ketto and Milaap and continued with the work. They even reached out to local shopkeepers and various organizations for help. ” Last year our focus was completely on ration distribution. We were able to help 12,000 families in the first wave.”, he said.
After the first wave when the situation got better, team Vrikshit went back and continued with their cleanliness drive. But, when the second wave of the pandemic arrived, they sensed the need for oxygen and other COVID-19 essentials.
” We ordered 155 oximeters and distributed them for free. We sent 10 oximeters in Supol, Bhilwara, Katihar respectively, and made way for a community check-up”, The villagers would reach out to the volunteers in these villages and get themselves checked. The team has also been requesting the government officials to aid those who are critical.
The team has been delivering oxygen cylinders for free in Delhi. ” We have sent around 200 oxygen cylinders through our own vehicle as of now.”, he said. Along with providing COVID-19 essentials, they have been actively giving out ration kits to families including sex workers in GB Nagar. ” Nobody was working for them, so we thought of covering them. Building their trust was difficult, but we did a survey and ended up helping 800 families. We have successfully provided ration kits of around Rs.6,20000. Our ration kits last 20 to 25 days and are enough for a family of 4.”, he added.
In April, they took their food distribution to different villages in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan. ” We have also committed to provide rations for lifetime to a few families who have lost everyone in the pandemic. “, he added.
Talking about the challenges Shankar said, ” The most difficult thing has been motivating the volunteers. A few of our members were tested positive and it scared everyone. Motivating them and relaxing them was one task. Another challenge was about gaining the trust of people. There were some NGOs who had allegations on them on exploiting the funds, and this is a humiliation for those who are doing it genuinely. Thirdly, the safety of our volunteers has been a challenge too.”, he said.
Vrikshit Foundation is also providing legal support against COVID-19 frauds with the help of lawyers. ” There were many fraudsters. People were in dire need and so they were ready to pay even Rs.20, 000 for a single cylinder. But, these fraudsters would run away with the money. So, we decided to do something about it. Currently, we are filing complaints against such dealers. We have also reached out to various banks requesting them to refund the money. We are trying our best.”, he said.
Working on such projects for the last 2 years, Shankar has seen people in worse conditions. Recalling one of the most memorable and sad incidents he said, ” So, we met this family who had lost their father due to COVID-19. The wife of the deceased works as a maid in homes. One of our volunteers saw her kids who were almost naked. So, we bought them clothes. We have promised to help them with education and other basic need. Another incident which I’ll never forget is about a villager who lost both his legs in an accident. He can’t work now, so we are helping him with food and other essentials. I think if we can’t help everybody, we should at least help those who are in front of us.”
Sharing how Vrikshit Foundation was founded, Shankar said ” There has always been a huge competition between Delhi and Mumbai about which one is better. So, One day I read this story about one Mumbaikar who was cleaning the beaches in Mumbai. That made me think a lot. We always blame the government for the mess, but it’s not the government who throws trash in the night. It’s us and so we only have to do something. After that 3 of my school friends and 2 of my students joined me in this cause.”, he said.
Shankar shared the pictures from his first cleanliness drive in Rohini on social media and it became viral. In the very next drive, the numbers of volunteers doubled. It kept on increasing and hasn’t stopped until now. The team has cleaned 250 places in Delhi to date, and their works have been recognized by the government as well.
One can get in touch with Shankar Singh at +91-7827552596 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.