NEARLY A month ago, the members of two groups — Ramanbaug Yuva Manch and Yuwa Vadya Pathak (a dhol-tasha troupe) — were contacted by city-based NGO Jnana Prabhodini Foundation with a request to volunteer for an initiative carried out by the foundation in the village Gelgane, 70 kms off Pune.
As many as 50 members from both the groups instantly agreed to participate. It has been three weeks now that that the members have been visiting the village every Sunday and spending almost 7-8 hours helping the Gelgane villagers construct two wells.
Pradyumna Vaidya, the head of Ramanbaug Yuwa Manch, said the volunteers of Jnana Prabhodini instruct us every Sunday about the work to be done on that particular day. So far, the work of blasting has been carried out almost 24 ft down. “We need to go further 5 ft down. After every blasting, a large number of stones get collected that we need to remove and unload to a different place. The present work is tough, then comes construction of the well, which won’t take as much time. The group has been actively working on it,” said Vaidya. The members are various professionals from different fields. He added that the ongoing work will continue till May 15 after which construction of well will begin.
“It is very easy to sit on a computer, log on to Facebook or Twitter and blame the government. We need to understand that we too can make a difference in our own ways. I could seen the happiness in the eyes of villagers. They treated us like gods,” said Vaidya.
Sagar Shinde, another member of the group, added that the members leave from Pune around 6 am on Sundays and reach Gelgane by 8 am. The 50 members also collected Rs 200 each and used the amount to hire JCB to lift bigger rocks.
About their experience, Vaidya said, “It is a different thing to do office work in an air-conditioned setting. After working in the village, I realised it requires tremendous energy to do physical work and people who generally do this kind of labour, get minimal pay. I look forward to Sundays so that I can head to Gelgane and offer help.”
Aakash Chowkase, the youth wing coordinator at Jnana Prabodhini, said that the amount of work is huge and requires maximum participation from people. He said that currently, the foundation is carrying out construction of wells in three villages — Gelgane, Matpilavare and Guhini. “We have five more Sundays left to finish work. Right now, the farmers are free to help us with the construction of wells but after five weeks, they will get busy with farming. Thus, we want to finish it as soon as possible. If we get more manpower, instead of sending workforce from Pune every Sunday, we can send them every third day. We also need to create a water reservoir,” he said. So far, the foundation has 50 people through public appeal but there is an urgent need for more participation, he added.