All religions preach the sacred virtue of giving back to community. Community service, is in fact woven into the fabric of religion. Whether it is zakat in Islam, or free langars in Sikhism, or daan in Hinduism, helping your community’s most needy is an important part of religion. Here are some of the ways you, along with NGOs and spirited individuals, can make a lasting difference.
These will only strengthen your faith, and you will end up contributing positively to the society around you.
Instead of ignoring them, develop a rapport with a street child. You will soon come to find out if they’re facing abuse. You can take steps to give them a chance at a better life by leading them to nutrition, health, and healing at a benevolent organisation. Child abuse can be reported to local Child Welfare Committee or the police. In association with local authorities and NGOs, rescue and rehabilitation is possible.
Along with keeping at-risk children safe, NGO Bal Raksha Bharat uses a network of Contact and Activity centres to return to children the play, education and vocational training opportunities snatched from them. The NGO also works to identify vocational training opportunities so that children rescued from a life of hard labour can find new, more respectable opportunities.
Volunteering and donation
It is not enough to merely donate to NGO fundraising. Your time is the most valuable resource you can gift. NGOs like Bal Raksha Bharat provide children education and counselling, and have many great volunteer opportunities. Donation is the easiest, fastest and most effective way to give back to society. Instead of feeling helpless when you can’t give large sums of money, think about making small, regular donations. You can also support fundraising initiatives on social media, or at malls, kiosks, and public places.
Fighting against child labour
Child labour is common in every part of India, yet rural India deserves special attention. 80% of working children live in India’s villages, and most work in agriculture, or, household industries, in the employ of home-based businesses. Children between 14-17 years engaged in hazardous work comprise 62.8% of the India’s child labour workforce. 50% of working adolescents do not study. Bal Raksha Bharat is attempting to make child labour redundant by a variety of schemes to empower children, and make it “socially and culturally unacceptable”. The NGO has withdrawn 50,000 child domestic workers from domestic help.
It is rare to find a child who is not excited about learning new things. You can easily devote some of your time to teach children from deprived communities basics of Maths, English, and life sciences. NGOs like Bal Raksha Bharat have ongoing programs across India to not provide access to education, but also make schools safer. In Mumbai, the NGO took learning to Mumbai’s marginalised children via a ‘Ride to School’ programme. A Mobile Learning Centre (MLC) with benches, blackboard, a library, games, and a TV-DVD player with educational content made learning much more engaging. Capacity-building programs for teachers to be part of the Right To Education have also been undertaken across Anganwadi Centres and government primary schools. Children have been navigated from labour to school via educational activity centres, along with food, alternative education, recreational activities, life-skill, medical care, and counselling.
For those who have a strong abiding faith, it is not possible to separate the idea of community service from religion. One should therefore not consider social service any different from the time, effort, and investment devoted in prayer. This outlook is necessary to inculcate in humanity the mindset to make a difference. Helping humanity is a sacred duty, especially when it touches the lives of India’s most needy demographic, our at-risk children.