Salvaging trash to survive, he picked up snippets of plastic, paper scraps and everything he could find to sell. My eyes kept following him while he dragged himself with a sagging garbage bag on his shoulders. Curious to know more about him and what made him pick a garbage bag at such a tender age, I followed him through the streets to enter the town of shanties.
For a moment, my world came to a standstill, for all I could see were hundreds of people residing in subhuman conditions. There were children much younger than me, squatting into flimsy dwellings with temporary walls and rickety corrugated roofs. There were no means for electricity, running water or toilets. The ideas of quality living, hope, basic sanitation and opportunities were non-existent in this world. This voiceless group of people seemed to have resigned to their fate, of living in an undesirable area near an open sewage channel and along the hazardous railway track. All I could see was utter chaos, congestion, and a stifling sense of entrapment.
The world I knew started fading as I learned about their lifestyle. I felt awful to have ignored this part of the world all those years.
The walk through the dank maze of ever-narrowing passages, made me question myself, can I bring a change to the lives of these people. Is there a possibility of changing their fate and of the next generation in line?
There was an urge in me to stand up for them and bring joy into their lives. Thus, I engaged in research on finding the best possible solutions for the destitute. While doing so, I came across estimates implying a shortage of around 18 million houses in India. I was interested in changing those facts; that’s when the idea of UrbanUp, a full-spectrum initiative to develop low-cost housing for the economically weaker sections of the society with an agenda of ensuring affordable housing, seized my mind.
I was clear that when it came to aiding families sleep peacefully under a roof, I would work on integrating my strengths and ideas to overcome any possible barriers. But, as a rookie, I had to acquire the necessary knowledge from specialists in various fields to drive this idea to greater levels. So I started gaining insight into the concepts of management and economical housing from industry experts. With this I could develop strategies to execute the project efficiently and keep myself updated on advanced techniques like recycled construction which could minimize the construction cost. Considering the fact that the project would help millions of people, I intend to raise the necessary funds of approximately INR 1.5 crore through individual donors and crowd-funding. Though some contributions have been of vital help, the need is still vast. So, I appeal to your generous self to help us transform the lives of millions for a better future. It isn’t just about helping, it is our first step to reform the life of an indigent. If together we can do this on a bigger scale, we could make our world a better place all of us.