Helping Those who have nobody

Near Vasant Kunj’s ‘Green Avenue’, shielding residences of Delhi’s super elite, Veeresh Malik discovers one man’s mission to save the destitute

The people at the tea stall, where I stopped to ask for directions, give me an indication—everybody knows where The Earth Saviour’s Foundation (TESF) is located.

As I park my car next to brilliantly manicured green lawns, I notice some temporary shelters housing about four dozen elderly people and a couple of hundred young children in school uniforms, on the other side under tents—it is all about the circle of life. Suddenly it strikes you—the balance between the young and evolving next to the old and fading away. These are abandoned, destitute, mentally-challenged elderly people rescued from the mean streets of life who will, in all probability, leave the premises only on their final journey. The young children, some of them also rescued from the same mean streets, will hopefully move on to make something of their lives. Both sets are bound by an important element they find at the shelter—respect. And that is what makes TESF different.

There is something so natural about this simple balance of the young and the old that TESF’s other activities, more on the ‘environmental’ side, also fit into a natural whole. In a brief four years of operations, TESF has grown phenomenally; its website lists a series of activities—from rescuing destitute women, to anti-noise pollution to working towards controlling fire-crackers to responding to the needs of providing decent funerals to unclaimed dead to promoting electric cremations, TESF seems to have taken multi-tasking forward in a sector which often gets stuck on one specific function.

Ravi Kalra, the man behind this pro-humanity drive, has certainly had a chequered life. Son of a police officer, he cut his own path, teaching martial arts to the uniformed forces. He then dabbled in a variety of businesses in which he reportedly did well, but a major turning point came when it all collapsed. Recovering from this setback, he revived his martial arts into a successful venture, but again, decided to hand it over to his brother and focus on trying to give something back to society.

Initially, he worked on rescuing the elderly abandoned in and around Delhi. Some of the stories he relates—of elderly parents being thrown into the streets, of unwell siblings abandoned outside hospitals, of people incapable of looking after themselves, of handling funerals—are simply mind-boggling. Soon he realised that there was a major problem with street children too and started working on that as well.

Essentially, TESF, set up in 2008, rescues the young and the old from the streets, cleans them up, provides basic medical assistance, gives them food and shelter for the rest of their lives and, eventually, ensures they get a dignified funeral (Mr Kalra also helps cremate hundreds of unclaimed bodies). The children are a mix of street and impoverished neighbourhood children, who are provided day-school facilities till about pre-puberty.

TESF has four ambulances, plenty of computers to put order into their activities and I watched bags full of old clothes being sorted out. TESF was started with Mr Kalra’s personal funds; your donations to it will be eligible for tax exemption under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. However, what Mr Kalra would really want from people is more volunteering. He wishes that people would just come to meet the abandoned elderly since many of them still crave for their family.

Getting like-minded people on board is a challenge, and it is his hope to some time build a ‘pukka’ construction. The basic philosophy is simple—‘do what you can, don't expect to change or improve matters too much, and certainly concentrate on the effort, the results will follow’. If you like the thought, do go out and volunteer. All that is asked of you is friendship and empathy!

The Earth Saviour’s Foundation
34, Green Avenue Road,
(near D Block Church) Vasant Kunj,
New Delhi - 110070
Ravi Kalra: Founder & President 91-9818171695
[email protected]  |  www.earthsaviours.in

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