Founded by Saurabh Gupta, NGO Shuddhi started with an aim to change people's behavior towards managing waste and now also works for various other social issues.
Just one year after the Delhi-based NGO Shuddhi began with the cleanliness program, the Swachh Bharat campaign was launched in the country. It tuned out to be an excellent booster for the works of the NGO that even carried out a three-year-long project in Mumbai aiming to clean the beaches like Juhu, Versova, and Girgaon, followed by such drives in other cities like the Yamuna in Delhi.
As soon as the founder of the NGO, Saurabh Gupta, understood the cleanliness problem in India while studying for a Master's program abroad, he decided to take the initiative to work for the cause. Reminiscing the time, Gupta says, "While studying waste management, I learned that India did not have a proper waste management system. People generate waste but are not responsible for the waste generated by them, thus making the environment hazardous. I decided to inculcate the right behaviour in people about waste and thought of the word 'Shuddhi' (clean) for the initiative."
Gupta returned to India and registered his initiative as an NGO. To fulfill his mission, he and his team involved the local communities in their projects. Initially, Gupta felt that the locals would be happy if the team gave them something but were not very comfortable when they asked them to participate in the work. Only with time did the team learn to involve them in the projects that yielded positive results. "We noticed how the locals responsibly behaved even after we left on completion of the projects," Gupta says. The NGO has also trained many railway staff on cleaning measures.
The team comprises one lakh members all over India and has never been behind in helping people affected by other causes. Back in 2015, they managed to pool money for the students affected by the massive earthquake in Nepal. To help the families of the martyrs after the Pulwama attack in 2019, the NGO conducted a door-a-door survey about the requirements of the families and found out that they were in dire need of digital equipment. "Not only the equipment could aid in education but also in availing the government schemes and facilities which are otherwise impossible," Gupta says.
As a result, the team distributed the electronic devices worth 30-40 lakhs with the help of sponsors and Gupta's personal savings. The COVID-19 waves were another such event that led the NGO to work on its toes and help people in distress.
One of the significant sectors hit by the pandemic was child education, which is now an important area of the Ngo's work. It has been actively hosting workshops, sports events, and dance and yoga classes for underprivileged children. The team often coordinates with the schools of sound infrastructure to use it for conducting classes for the children during the holiday periods. Moreover, as Gupta says, the parents of the children call the NGO to ask about more such sessions.
For the last few years, the team has also provided a platform for underprivileged women to earn a livelihood through knitting. They make cotton and jute bags that are sold through the website of the NGO. Although there were many centers like this in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Pune, before the COVID-19 hit country, it is currently restricted to one in Greater Noida, where lesser privileged women are making these eco-friendly bags.
With the ban on single-use plastic from July 2022, Saurabh Gupta is hopeful that people will move towards jute and cotton bags, through which more such women will be benefitted as he plans to open more such centers.
The major hindrance
While the entire journey of the NGO, since its inception, has been a learning experience for Saurabh Gupta and his team, he highlights one of the major hindrances in the way of the NGOs. Already dealing with the financial crunch, the workings of an NGO becomes even more difficult due to governmental policies, as he says.
Nevertheless the shortcomings, Saurabh Gupta is currently looking forward to establishing centers to help women earn through making bags. He is also working on opening a center for people to donate their old books and other reading materials so that underprivileged children can reuse them. "I aim to provide machines and equipment to women and educational supplies to children," he says.