Through ‘Who Cares’? he is providing care to the street-sleepers and beggars in Darjeeling!
Homeless, jobless, penniless destitute people lining the streets of India is such a common phenomenon. They all have their personal stories of the circumstances that led to their degradation, which they attempt to voice. But, who cares? A group of social workers in Darjeeling (a veritable army of zealous workers, so to say) has taken it upon themselves to be the caregivers to these very people whom the society overlooks.
The brain- child of Mr Aron Yonzone, ‘Who Cares?’ was founded in 2012 in Kalimpong, the district of Darjeeling and has rapidly spread to seven different places including Darjeeling and Nepal, and has taken under its wings innumerable destitute. According to the founder, he noticed a number of NGOs that looked after animal rights, child rights, trafficking, etc. While they are all noble causes, he felt that not enough attention was being given to the destitute and street-sleepers due to the sensitivity of their kind, although they are a part of our very society. Hence, this led to the founding of ‘WHO Cares?’
They not only focus on the one-time recovery of their subjects, but rather, their long-term self-sustainability. Reaching out to the destitutes and gaining their trust was initially difficult. Now that they have achieved it, the organisation has affected nearly 150-200 lives, tending to each about 690 times till date, while attracting increasing interests from the local people as the ranks of their volunteers and donors have proliferated.
From bathing and clipping the nails of destitutes and providing clothes for them, to taking care of their health and ensuring their long-term self-sustainability, they’ve done it all. They’ve been successful in removing the vagabonds of Darjeeling from the streets and providing them shelter homes where they’re properly taken care of. Being completely self-funded and depending solely on donations, they regularly organize cultural programmes, print calendars and sell raffle-sheets to not only collect funds for their noble cause but also to popularize it.
In fact, they’ve been so successful that the destitutes, themselves have begun to come to their small office asking for help. Especially in the biting cold of the Darjeeling winter, destitutes coming to ask for a jacket or a blanket or simply a cup of tea is a common sight. “Who Cares?” has rapidly developed into a family for the destitutes, someone to reach out to for help during rough times, and they pride themselves on that!
The founder believes that each destitute has a story which we should respect. He says, “We seek to locate, interrogate and interact with them. We’re greatly aware of the vulnerability of this particular group, and we strive to develop bonds with them. It is they who deserve BPL cards, weekly rations and government care. Yet, except for a few, who cares?” Earning their trust while also making the locals believe in their endeavours is a daunting task, and the paucity of funds has restrained them from large-scale action.
Their ultimate goal is to set up their own shelter home wherein the underprivileged are provided with mental and health care and also trained and counselled so as to be independent in the future.