IN FOND MEMORY: THE CO-TRAVELLERS WE LOST TO THE UNFORGIVING PANDEMIC
KNOWN FOR UNBRIDLED ENTHUSIASM AND PASSION FOR CHILDREN: DR SUDEEP SINGH GADOK
One of the very cherished and dear co-journeymen of Bal Raksha Bharat family, Dr Sudeep Singh Gadok passed away on 8 June 2021. He fought valiantly, to his last breath, the battle against COVID-19 and even kept everyone engaged from his ICU ward through social media. Dr Gadok served as Bal Raksha Bharat’s Director of Programmes from 2013 to 2016. We cannot thank him enough for the valuable contribution he made to the organisation tirelessly, in his years here. Our heart goes out to the friends and family members he has left behind and wish they get the courage and fortitude to bear this loss.
Sudeep wore Bal Raksha Bharat name with pride. He was an articulate Bal Raksha Bharat representative within India, our global movement as well as the external world. Under his leadership, Bal Raksha Bharat, India had positioned itself to receive global recognition. He was an ardent advocate for India and children in the global movement through his contributions in various forums. It was under his leadership that Bal Raksha Bharat, India mounted its first international humanitarian response during the Nepal earthquake of 2015.
Even after he decided to move on in 2016, he left a part of his heart with Bal Raksha Bharat, India. Sudeep would always talk about setting up a Bal Raksha Bharat alumni group and he truly believed that, “Once a Bal Raksha Bharat family member, always a Bal Raksha Bharat family member”.
Sudeep was vibrant both inside and outside the workplace. He could always hold an audience and his quirks always ensured there was never a dull moment when we were around him. He was a poet at heart and could recite from Russian to Urdu poetry at the drop of a hat. His infectious laughter would often ring through the corridors of our office. We are sure many who knew him would say it was an honour to work with him and together be able to make an impact in the lives of children in India.
Will miss you dearly Sudeep and you will forever be remembered fondly in our hearts.
REMEMBERING OUR FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE: UMENDRA VERMA
The morning of 1 May 2021, brought with it utter sadness and grief and left all of us at Bal Raksha Bharat India shaken. We had to wake up to the shocking news of our team member Umendra Verma succumbing to COVID-19. Umendra was a Fundraising Manager at Bal Raksha Bharat, working relentlessly to drive funds and support for the cause of India’s most deprived children. He had been fighting the Coronavirus infection for the last few days.
Umendra was known for his kindness and cheerful demeanour. He exuded warmth and was an endearing person with whom everyone loved to interact. He was always willing to go the extra mile, whether it was his own work or for helping other colleagues. On the professional front, Umendra was a committed professional and was passionate for the noble cause he worked for, the cause of India’s children. He understood the meaning of the word “team” and made valuable contributions to the organisation’s work for children. His work at Bal Raksha Bharat will not be forgotten.
Umendra will be greatly missed and everyone at Bal Raksha Bharat is saddened by his death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this hour of distress. We are proud to have known Umendra and for being a part of his life.
THE LEGACY LIVES ON: AMBARISH RAI
All of us at Bal Raksha Bharat were deeply grieved to hear of the untimely demise of Ambarish Rai, National Convener of The Right to Education Forum on 23 April 2021.
As an ardent advocate for the discriminated and marginalised sections, Ambarish Rai played a vital role in demanding the Fundamental Right to Education which led to the 86th Constitutional Amendment in 2002 making education a fundamental right in India. Since 2010, Ambarish has led the Right to Education Forum with singular vision and commitment to work towards achieving the goal of equitable and quality education for all children through the realisation of the Right to Education Act, 2009. This Forum has evolved into one of the strongest civil society coalitions with at least 10,000 members raising their voice on the issues of education in the country at both national and state level. Ambarish Rai was able to unite and bring together various civil society organisations, teachers and prominent educationists to work towards a common agenda.
The vast influence of the RTE Forum, under Ambarish Rai’s leadership over the past 11 years, has made it possible to consistently track the Right to Education Act, make education a political agenda, work with parliamentarians, teachers and SMCs as well as pro-actively react to critical issues on education.
Bal Raksha Bharat has had the privilege and opportunity to play a foundational and instrumental role in facilitating the formation of the Forum since 2010. Since then, Ambarish Rai has been Bal Raksha Bharat’s long-standing partner and supporter for the cause for children. This has provided Bal Raksha Bharat a credible platform to voice key issues related to education for children in a consultative and collective manner. Ambarish Rai has truly built a people’s movement and has worked as a catalyst in driving social change for the people specifically children’s right to education.
We take this opportunity and time to honour his life, his work and his legacy.