The ongoing drought and water scarcity in Latur has seen NGOs and good Samaritans rising to the occasion to help the people in distress. Among them are a group of professionals from Pune, who have not only adopted 10 villages in Latur but are also looking to generate alternate sources of income for the women in these villages on a long term basis.
It was the vast media reportage about the ongoing drought in Latur that made Raj Sekhon and his friends move out of their comfort zone and try to do their bit in order to help the people of Latur.
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Consisting mainly of software professionals, the group initially drove down to Latur in mid-April to meet the collector Pandurang Pol to understand the ground reality and how they could help. Pol mentioned about villages which are in dire need of tankers to supply water. Sekhon said that the group decided to adopt these villages and help them in solving their water scarcity.
The group initially started with two villages, and later adopted eight more, ensuring regular water tankers to these villages. Other than Sekhon, the group consists of Nelaam Sekhon, Prashant Wagh, Mrunal Diware, Sanyam Diware, Pradyna Wagh, Bhavana Fender, Tushar Fender, Amita Gupta, Christo Fernandes, Anand Parabh and Inamul Haque.
Post their first visit, the professionals reached out to their friends and family to crowd-source funds needed to carry out their humanitarian efforts. Sekhon said that they have raised more than Rs 3 lakh till now. “We have ensured that 86 tankers are plying to the villages on a daily basis. Around 14 tankers cater to animals in the villages,” Sekhon said. Interestingly, none in the group have any roots either in Latur or Marathwada.
Other than ensuring water supply, the group also surveyed village schools and other facilities to understand how they could help in betterment of the villages. Almost every weekend, the volunteers drive 500 kms to Latur and take a first-hand stock of the situation on ground zero.
For Sekhon, this would be the second time he is involved in an effort like this. Back in 2012, he had helped organised a similar movement to help villages in Beed to tide over the drought. He has also been to tribal villages in Palghar to celebrate Diwali with children there with gifts and sweets.
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In order to take their involvement to the next level, an all-girls team from the group would be travelling to Latur this weekend to explore various employment generation avenues for women in these villages. “The team would engage and understand ways to help the women generate income on their own,” Sekhon added.