Journey of Sharva Foundation, founded by a young native of Jammu, aims to help underprivileged communities

Sharva Foundation is an NGO run by a 22-year-old Engineering student who aims to provide a helping hand to the underprivileged communities living in various cities.

While watching one of her favourite daily soaps during childhood, Ankita Zadoo, who was in standard 6th, developed a fascination with running an NGO by following a character who would do the same on the show. Her sentence was – “Mom, I would also run an NGO to help others,” to which her mother replied – “You do not need the dependence on an ‘NGO’ to be able to help others.” Even though Zadoo could not grasp her reply, she understood what her mother meant only in the lockdown of 2020. During that time, she understood the dismay of underprivileged people, which provoked her to help them – without having her initiative registered as Sharva Foundation, an NGO she runs today.

It was June 2020 when Zadoo took it upon herself to distribute food to the needy who were affected due to the sudden announcement of the lockdown. As the colleges were closed, the 2nd year student of Engineering had come back to her native place Jammu from Pune but knew that the situation was alike in both places. While carrying out the food drive, which later was named the project ‘Food for Cause’ in Jammu could be handled by her, it was a problem for her to proceed with the same initiative in Pune.

However, using her contacts in Pune, she managed to kickstart the drive even while sitting in Jammu. During the whole year of 2020, Zadoo and her teammates distributed nearly 10,000 food packets and stationery items to poor people. In the last two years, the Sharva Aikyam foundation, which got registered as a Trust in October 2020, has distributed many ration kits, food packets, and cooked meals, not only in the two cities but also in other places of India, covering 16-17 cities.

Understanding the issues

With the ease in the lockdown and noticing various other societal issues, Zadoo understood the need to work on other areas. “It was the time when people were no longer in need of ration kits but employment,” she says. Zadoo, along with her team, helped people obtain spaces where they could earn their livelihood. Moreover, she was aware that many of the underprivileged people who were being donated clothes to did not wear them but sold them, which also prompted her to help them with employment instead of donating essential items.

A similar situation has been with Zadoo and her team members while working on Project ‘Ruya’. Initially, the project aimed at providing food to visually-impaired people. But, understanding their actual difficulties, the team worked for financial support by helping them in getting jobs. Moreover, a few of the team members also recently became scribes for a few visually-impaired persons to help them in their exams.

With a motive to contribute to the environment’s health, Zadoo also runs a plantation drive under the campaign ‘Green’ and has planted nearly 631 plants. She has been active in setting up blood donation camps and hosting awareness campaigns on personal hygiene among menstruators. She has also been distributing free sanitary napkins to the underprivileged menstruators consisting of 13,179 persons, including a few in the orphanages under the project ‘Give Her Wings To Fly’. Lending caring hands to the voiceless creatures – animals; the NGO has maintained to feed them, giving it a name – ‘Voice for Voiceless’.

‘Strive with Pride’

The year 2022 has been special for Ankita Zadoo for one major reason. Her NGO collaborated with Queers of Jammu, Climate Front Jammu, and Aashray NGO to conduct the first-ever pride parade in Jammu. Sharva Foundation has been associated with the LGBTQIA+ community for a while now as the team works for the Project ‘Strive for Pride’.

They have provided ration kits to the community when needed while also holding awareness campaigns. The outstanding part of the project is providing a platform to the community where they can take charge of the sessions, talking about the issues that concern them.

While all this work has been possible due to the volunteers working for the NGO, Zadoo had a tough time getting them in the beginning. She recounts the time and says that it was the only major problem she has faced in running the NGO till now. With time, however, Zadoo’s consistent efforts in giving back to society helped her form a team of 217 people working in PAN India.

As Ankita Zadoo awaits her final-year results, she is persistent in outlining a plan for teaching the slum kids of as many areas and cities as possible. She had already begun a project named ‘Free As A Bird’ with an ambition to host awareness sessions for promoting girl child education. However, as Zadoo noticed that many boys were also deprived of schools, she expanded the horizon of the project and now looks forward to working in this direction.

The 22-year-old is not wrong when she says, “Only education can change the condition of the underprivileged children.”

Also Read: Taarini Foundation: An initiative by Artika Singh to empower rural communities by teaching about ‘sustainable menstruation’!

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