India is estimated to have had around 3.2 million NGOs in 2021, just over one NGO per 1000 Indians, and many times the number of primary schools and primary health centers in India. NGOs in India have developed and strengthened by their perseverance in the last few decades; however, only a few of them have successfully impacted our society significantly, and many are still working hard and uplifting society. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India, many volunteers across the country are stepping out and doing the needful for the people who are worst affected such as BPL citizens and downtrodden workers.

Mr. Munish Pundir, the founder of Aashman Foundation, had a dream to work unconditionally on Women’s Empowerment, Single Income families, and underprivileged children by constant efforts and innovative ideas put by him to contribute towards healthcare, education, and environmental based livelihood programs for them. The foundation was started in the year 2009 with a small group of people who just wanted to help the people in need. Later in 2012, it was registered as a Non-Government Organisation.

Yakshita, the regional campaign manager at Aashman Foundation told me in an interview the key segments that the organisation takes care of even in this pandemic. The ongoing projects enlisted by her are as follows:

Women Empowerment Centre

There is a large section of women in India who dedicate all of their life working at home, but if they come out and grab the opportunities to build themselves a fruitful career, it will not only make them independent but also strengthen the micro-economy of India. To support women in becoming independent by spirit, thoughts, and actions so as to have full control over their lives by themselves rather than being a recipient of others’ orders. This particular objective by the organisation aims to achieve socio-economic empowerment of women by their operational units.

Widow Support

The Aashman Foundation supports widows by providing them monthly grocery, medical treatment, and education to their children for free. They also provide them rural-based skill training to make them self-sufficient and further aid them to manage credits so that they can safeguard their hard-earned money and multiply their savings. Upliftment of widows socially and financially is one of their prime objectives.

Baal Depression

Children who spent too much time on smartphones and other electronic gizmos are prone to mental health issues. Latest studies suggest that an hour a day spent staring at a screen may lead to a surge in anxiety and depression amongst children, consequently, leading to a lack of concentration. Everyone is well aware of how so many children drop out of school at an early stage to help their families. These children have the right to study. Aashman Foundation puts in efforts to help these children stay on the path of education. The organisation believes that reading and writing will keep the mind occupied towards something productive and far away from “Baal depression”.

Milk Bank Campaign

Sufficient nutrition plays a significant role in a child’s overall development. Milk is considered a vital constituent in a wholesome meal for infants and children. It provides nutrition that a child needs to grow and flourish in all aspects. The NGO regularly provides milk to the precious kids whose parents cannot afford it. Every child deserves to live a healthy and happy life.

The message conveyed by Yakshita is that a coin has two sides; people tend to focus on one and forget the other. For instance, in the midst of a pandemic, people are ready to help and donate to the ones who are suffering directly from COVID, helping in the refilling of oxygen cylinders, food meals to COVID+ patients, etc, but how many of us thought of the underprivileged children, depressed children, widows during this pandemic? Mostly, they belong to the working class of society who are worst affected because of job loss or insufficient wages to provide proper nutrition for themselves and their family.

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