Small acts of kindness go a long way in bringing a big change. Taking a cue, the good Samaritans in Amritsar are ensuring that a few acts serve as a gesture to bring some happiness into the lives of the downtrodden.
Voice of Amritsar (VOA), a city NGO, in its latest campaign, has initiated a donation and distribution network, where they collect household items, clothes, and other day-to-day use items and distribute them among the slum dwellers in the city. The Joy of Giving campaign, as Seenu Arora, the president of VOA, calls it, began its activities from the slum near Chahal Road gurdwara, distributing clothes to children and women. A brainchild of Seenu and his team of volunteers, including Mandeep Singh and Dr Rakesh Sharma, VOA aims to gradually cover all the slum dwellings in the city with donated clothes, medicines, and household items. They also want to hold cleanliness awareness camps in these slums. “The idea is to begin a process where citizens of the city connect through such acts of kindness. The things we ask people to donate are not very expensive but they could really help or bring some joy to those who need them more than us,” says Seenu.
A few weeks ago, the Army cantonment initiated the concept of ‘Wall of Kindness’, an open space for donating unused or old clothes. With some racks and hangers in place for storage of these clothes, the ‘Wall of Kindness’ became an open space to find clothes, shoes and other items for the needy. Based on the concept of open sharing and collaborating, the ‘Wall of Kindness’ has been set up in several cities. The officials also kept a handyman to ensure that the clothes and things donated were safe and sorted out.
The challenge of sustainability
Pearl Jasra, who initiated a campaign called Annapurna, where she collaborated with local caterers and hotel chains to donate surplus food to the needy, says the biggest challenge in pursuing these small acts of kindness is the sustainability factor. “The initial response is very good, but over a period of time, the donor and volunteer support decreases, lesser people come forward to donate stuff and eventually it dwindles away. One has to constantly knock doors to keep the aid coming.” Agrees Seenu. “The fact that the donated stuff reaches the people it is meant for, without any glitch, is very important. Many times, campaigns die down because of lack of support and planning. We aim to consistently work towards ensuring that we segregate and distribute enough for every slum dwelling in the city.” The Wall of Kindness too had to face some minor issues relating to people robbing clothes or even putting up torn clothes that are of no use to anyone.