Sunday, February 24, 2013
A POSITIVE 'WEAPON' TO COMBAT SOCIETY'S ILLS
"Please don't throw the leftovers after a party or a function. Just send an SMS, I will make arrangements to collect it," says Sujay, a BBM student.
Anybody seeing Sujay for the first time would definitely mistake him to be just another teenager, hanging out at his favourite adda chit-chatting about latest movies, current fashion trend, etc. But appearances can be deceptive. For V. Sujay, a BBM student of Marimallappa's College in city, is mature for his age and seems to have a deeper grasp of life than just pursuing sensory pleasures.
Accompanied by B. Kendaraj, Sujay has formed a Trust 'Asthra' at his home and on every Sunday, they visit one Ashram in city, provide food and clothes to inmates and spend some time with them. The main intention of the Trust is to look after destitute aged people out of the savings accrued from their pocket money.
Sujay who has experience working for "People's for People" organisation since 10 years, says, "Since I was a child, my pa-rents celebrated my birthdays in Old Age Homes and Orphanages. Deeply inspired by this, I thought of doing some service on my own and started this Trust. My desire is to start an Ashram meant exclusively for the aged and small children who are blind by birth."
"Don't throw away excess food or the leftovers after a party or a function. Just send me an SMS and I will make arrangements to collect this food from your place and distribute it to near by orphanages," appeals Sujay.
Sujay is also taking care of four aged persons who have been provided shelter in a house near Ramaswamy Circle. Not only are they provided with daily food, but their other needs too are taken care of.
The word 'Asthra' derived from Sanskrit means 'weapon.' Asthra in its positive connotation is a tool to combat evil. Inspired by this and keeping in view the society's current obligation towards the underprivile-ged, physically & mentally challenged youth, Sujay, under the guidance of his mentor, decided to put into practice the creation of a collection of "Weapons of Mass Reformation" and called it Asthra. It is an acronym for:
A - Association for
S - Social
T - Transformation through
H - Help
R - Rehabilitation and
Since its inception in Aug. 22, 2009 with just two members, ASTHRA, now about a year old, has grown into a 25-member strong team.
"As the name suggests, our main thrust, apart from offering our services to the needy, is to create awareness amongst students and youth and instill in them the spirit of social service. The team members comprise of people of all ages, coming from diverse backgrounds, ranging from students to young entrepreneurs to IT professionals. This way, our organisation has gone beyond the segregation of people based on status, profession, gender or caste. It is open to everyone who aspire to make this land a better place for the underprivileged, who find themselves alienated from society.
"The social service activities at ASTHRA are held regularly on every weekends between 9 am and 11.30 am. Each member is encouraged to bring his friends and other members of his family to do service, so that the spirit of social service is instilled among all. Since its inception, there has never been a Sunday without ASTHRA offering its service for the underprivileged," says a proud Sujay.
The service activities involve a group of members visiting various organisations in city that take care of the mentally or physically challenged children and aged people. The organisers have maintained a comprehensive list of all these places along with their location and purpose for ready reference in a database. The list is also available on request to anyone who is interes-ted to offer services on their own.
"The main purpose of ASTHRA during these visits is to make the inmates at these places "feel loved" and to let them know that today's society has not forgotten them. This is achieved by spending time with them, making them laugh by sharing jokes and listening to their stories. The volunteers encourage the inmates to sing, dance or share whatever they feel, including their personal grievances and sorrows.
We have come to realise that what is mainly lacking is their longing for company, an understanding partner or a friend. This discourages them more than their physical disabilities. During our meetings, we try to overcome this barrier of indifference between the society and these unfortunate brethren, by interacting with them open-heartedly and showering them with love and affection that they long for," observes Sujay philosophically.
He however adds immediately, "ASTHRA's visits to organisa-tions are aimed at entertaining the residents in more ways than one. Since we believe more in action than just kind words, we try to find ways in which their grievances can be best addressed."
"The decision on which organisation to visit for the week is made unanimously and depending on the place we visit, we carry with us what we feel would be in the best interest of the inmates. For example, if we decide to visit a blind school or an orphanage, we carry biscuits, chocolates, toys and other such similar things for children. Whereas, visiting an Old Age Home or an Ashram for the underprivileged we carry plenty of fruits, medicines and any other material our members or their guests would like to donate.
"Guests are qualified to become members of ASTHRA only after a sincere display of dedication and sincerity towards service by regularly participating in at least five activities. The responsibility of providing financial support to our organisation is borne by the members on their own. All heartfelt donations are accepted in any form without attaching much importance to the amounts donated. Apart from this, there has never been an attempt to 'collect funds' from any non-member," Sujay clarified.
"ASTHRA has been constantly striving to improvise its activi- ties based on the feedback we have received from our visit to the various places we have visited so far," he added.
"Although registered, ASTHRA has not been publicised by any media and is not under any particular patronage. The only rules guiding our organisation is the love, affection and sincerity of our members towards the well-being of the society and their conviction towards service. In case one needs to know more about ASTHRA and their activities, they can be visit the group online at Orkut or Facebook or contact Sujay on Mob: 99645-86226.