How many times have you seen kids at traffic signals wiping your windshields, at railway stations selling insignificant things, at little chai shops wiping the tables, outside restaurants and shops looking beyond those glass doors with a lustful yet hopeless expression in their eyes? How many times have you wished you didn’t have to witness that? That even they had the means to earn and have lives worth living? And how many times have we actually taken time off our busy lives and made any effort whatsoever to help them?
Exactly. That is why, when you come across a bunch of people who actually, selflessly, continually work for the upliftment of the economically underprivileged by employment generation, you cannot help but get awed and inspired. Handmade Hope is a platform provided to destitute children, youth, women from slums and HIV positives, who create self-initiated products and sell them to the public in order to earn themselves a respectable living. How this works is very simple: an artist creates a product; trains the others and teaches them how to make it. The others all work together as a team in order to make more of the products and thus, “every artisan associated with the product puts in a part of himself in creating it.” The volunteers think of designs and ideas and they are brought to life and form with the efforts of the people working on them.
(Handmade Hope products)
When I visited Handmade Hope, Vadodara, I was greeted with a warm smile and twinkling eyes by Mukesh, a twenty year old chap who earns his living by making products and selling them. He is the sole income generator and supports a family of six. He displayed all his products in front of me eagerly with the dimpled smile intact on his face. This whole idea was conceived in the mind of an enthusiastic, warm, zealous individual who also happens to be the Vice President of an NGO called YUVA Unstoppable: Rushabh Gandhi. He supplies all the raw materials to Mukesh, who in turn converts them into amazing, artistic products. They make all sorts of things including paper bags, notebooks, wall frames, bookmarks, greeting cards, envelopes, cloth bags and more. Not only are they unique and attractive, but they are made of recycled or waste material. You can read the story of how it all started here. Rushabh does not only manage Handmade Hope in Vadodara, but also plays a pivotal role in handling the YUVA operations.
YUVA is run by 60,000 young people over thirty cities in India. They are against child labour and environmental pollution. Their motto is “Young people are not useless, but used less.” What a great way to provide opportunities to children so that they can use their talents in doing things worth doing. What a great way to foster a spirit of unity, kindness and compassion in the hearts and minds of the youth of our country. It seriously makes you stop in your hectic lifestyles and think. What are you doing for your country, or your city, or your society? But what is more important is not what you’re doing, but what you can do for them. Gives us all something to think about, doesn’t it? It’s time to rekindle the flame of hope in the lives of the ones who are less fortunate than us. It’s time to make a wish, take a chance and make a change. It’s time to reach out. It’s time.