Diwali, the festival of lights, as opposed to its humble origins has become a highly commercialised holiday in recent years. We associate the day with extravagant displays of wealth and overindulgence which leave a hefty impact on our environment. However, the ethos of Diwali is rooted in community and brotherhood. Exchanging moments of love and joy with our family members is great but what if we extended this spirit to the larger community?
At this time of the year, many sections of our society are still struggling to maintain a basic livelihood and through the smallest of donations, we can help change that little by little. This Diwali, indulge in the joy of sharing and experience the beauty of the festival beyond the facade. Here’s a list of different organisations around India where you can donate or even volunteer.
Classroom hunger is a real problem in countries like India and most schools struggle to put together nourishing mid-day meals, leaving children underfed and starving. By donating to the Akshaya Patra foundation you can make a difference this Diwali, as the proceeds will be utilised to provide the children with both a nutritious breakfast and lunch. Furthermore, this effort will also help bring a significant population of underprivileged minors back to schools.
HelpAge is a leading charity in India working with and for disadvantaged elderly for nearly four decades. A large population of senior citizens are left impoverished and debilitated due to their living conditions and your donations can help bring some relief to the elderly. Focused on healthcare, livelihood and disaster response; the organisations’ programmes directly benefit the senior population with required aid.
The name Seva Kitchen quite literally, draws on the traditional value of selfless giving –– a desire to serve or do ‘seva’. Although it started off by making meals accessible to relatives of patients in the hospital, Seva Kitchen continues to cover a broader ambit of addressing hunger needs. They do not have a bank account and hence only accept donations in kind. When you donate the organisation crowdsources material, food and milk as per your wish and the food/material is delivered to the hospitals where Seva Kitchen serves.
Goonj ‘Not Just a Piece of Cloth’
Poor women, especially in rural areas, struggle to get a clean piece of cloth to manage their period every month. Living in a culture of shame and silence, they end up using poor substitutes like rags and ash, or worse; they use nothing. By donating to this program, you can help women and girls in underprivileged communities get access to reusable cloth pads to manage their periods.
The majority of the underprivileged patients admitted to Government hospitals are those who come from nearby states and are often poor. In several cases, family members decide to stay hungry to save money in order to afford medical services. Once you donate to their programme, Uday Foundation serves free, but wholesome, food to families of underprivileged patients in the Govt. Hospitals. This act of service extends to children who come from far-off places to Delhi hospitals, often for longer treatments.
These organisation are also a great place to volunteer where you can invest your free time in community service. Organisations like Goonj, Teach for India, HelpAge and Robin Hood Army arrange programmes that are helping transform lives around the country. If you’re looking to volunteer this festive season, do check out their websites for more information.