This blog is in collaboration with Alys Daniels-Creasy, a star blogger with stupendous following. Her blog alysjournals presents refreshingly creative posts on mental health, bullet journalling, society, travel, poetry, photography and veganism.
Whenever I watch news on television or read the newspaper, I feel as if am getting pulled in a quagmire of negativity. The war in Syria, the Korean crisis( thankfully seems to have subsided for now), resurgence of the cold war kind of situation between the US and Russia, shootings in schools in the US or some insane fanatics ramming vehicles into pedestrians in Europe and many other such instances give us a feeling of being on a highway to hell.
Closer back home in India, the strife in a northern state, the Naxal menace in southern states, politicians hitting new lows everyday by perpetuating scams, spreading hatred, mistrust you name it. Recently, there have been horrific instances of crimes committed against children. On top of that the rains playing truant for the few years have wreaked havoc with the farmers.
Being bombarded by such depressing news day in and day out, seems like nothing is right with this world.The negativity breeds more negativity and spreads like a disease. People start losing faith in the system and the society. A pall of gloom descends on the everyday life. This ultimately affects a persons well being.
Turns out that the media (print, television and social media) is mostly churning out negative news and events with some doctoring to make that shock impact expecting to boost TRPs. But there is the other side of the coin, the good, the constructive, the positive, the hopeful. This side somehow does not get adequately highlighted.
But for once am proved wrong and am I glad to be wrong! I came across a few examples on the social media and television that are putting the sunshine back in our lives. Let me quote a few examples to showcase how positivity spreads like wildfire and slowly engulfs everyone.
Omkar Nath Sharma – ‘Medicine Baba’
Omkar Nath Sharma was a blood bank technician at one of the hospitals in Noida near New Delhi. His life changed forever when he witnessed collapse of an under construction metro bridge which killed 2 laborers and badly injured many other. The under equipped public hospitals could not give the necessary treatment to the injured. They were referred to a private hospital but the poor laborers could not afford the cost of the treatment and medicines. Subsequently some of them died for want of treatment and medicines.
A deeply grieved Omkar Nath decided to start his own supply chain of medicines. But he could not afford the medicines himself. So he started going door to door asking people to donate unused medicines. Initially people did not trust him. But soon the trickle started. People recognized the good intention and the cause and started donating unused medicines. He started cataloguing every medicine based on the name, manufacturer expiry date etc. He distributed the medicines free to the poor and continues to do so even today.
The positivity has caught on and citizens have installed collection boxes in colleges and temples where others can drop medicines they don’t need. Omkar Nath distributes medicines worth ₹ 400,000 – 600,000 every month. What makes the struggle even more impressive is that he himself is physically challenged and lives in a modest rented room with his wife and a mentally challenged son.
Even today, he walks 5-6km everyday in different localities requesting people to donate unused medicines. He makes no money out of this but it is the passion to do good for the society, the positivity that fuels this superhuman effort.
Chronic Drought and People driven Non-Government Organizations
The western state of Maharashtra in India, over the last few years has been facing severe chronic drought year after year. Wilful wastage of water, failure to conserve rain water, rampant use of bore wells, Government’s failed irrigation projects due to corruption and an attitude of desperation and neglect has resulted in this epic natural plus man made calamity. The brunt of this was borne by thousands of villages and the the most vulnerable part of the society therein, the poor farmers.
Successive droughts and availing of loans had got them into a vicious circle which they could not get out of. Consequently, hundreds of them committed suicide leaving behind widows and children to fend for themselves. The situation had become so grim that people had to walk kilometers to get half a bucket of water or climb down some treacherous well to get few bowls of muddy water.
Finally some people took notice and decided not to depend on Government or an external agency to help. Let me quote two notable examples here though there are many others who are doing equally commendable job.
Founded by film star Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao, the foundation has a passionate and dedicate team from all walks of life. They found out that man and not nature is the culprit. They set out systematically selecting worst affected villages, spreading awareness about watershed management, training people with technical know how and leadership skills and creating training manuals. They also created an android app and awareness films.
They effectively started bringing the fractured society together, imbibing the belief that together they themselves could turn the situation around. They inspired the rural folk to identify the problem, arrange for funds, land and the required effort and ultimately harvest their own water. For a start they trained 5 persons in each village who in turn would train others.
Gradually, the idea caught on. People started using social media apps like Whatspp to spread awareness, crowd source funds and encourage other people to volunteer. Each village now started building earthen check dams called bandharas and other structures to harvest rain water. The hard work started paying off. The water started accumulating in the bandharas and the rain harvesting structures. Villages that regularly faced water shortage and were known for fights among themselves for water now had 24×7 water.
Positivity being contagious spread like wildfire. Neighboring villages started replicating the model and now they even have a competition among the villages to harvest maximum amount of water. The domino effect has resulted in villages now having sufficient quantity of water. There is now a strong sense of involvement and ownership which has helped reduce social maladies like crime and alcoholism.
As per Paani Foundation’s estimate, the villages participating in the last water cup competition created a water storage capacity of 1,368 crore litres that is equivalent to 1,368,000 tankers of water, or Rs 272 crore worth of water savings.
The sense of attachment to the cause and the community is so strong that a family that had just lost a member did ‘shramdaan’ or voluntary labour the next day for the watershed management effort as a mark of respect for the departed soul. Now we even have families from the cities visiting villages on weekends and voluntarily helping with creation of the watershed works which is amazing. Nothing highlights the power of positivity better than this example.
In 2015, moved by the plight of the villagers during the drought, Nana Patekar and Makarand Anaspure started helping out affected individuals at a personal level by monetary help, providing clothes, blankets and medical kits etc. However, they soon realized that the solution had to be long term and the scope of the work had to be increased. They immediately set up the NAAM foundation.
As the word spread about the good work, donations started pouring in from all quarters. The foundation collected ₹ 8000000 on day one and then on, it has never looked back. The avalanche of help and volunteers enabled the foundation to expand its operations which included adopting affected villages, training people, providing education, helping widows, initiate river rejuvenation, group farming and construction of houses for the needy.
The foundation has taken up complete responsibility of few villages as a pilot for total transformation. In these villages, with the involvement of local people it has taken up water conservation projects to make them self sufficient, garbage management, sanitary infrastructure like better toilets and drainage, tree plantation, de-addiction, forming women self help groups and local communities to monitor the progress.
This has fostered a universal sense of belonging and a sense of responsibility towards their own lives and that of the village, willingness to help each other, lesser dependence on external organizations all resulting in improving the quality of life and well being. This has now become a massive movement which is self sustaining and spreading to the remaining villages.
There are many more such examples which continue doing amazing work which I would have loved to mention but for space constraints.
However the bottom line is, even a small amount of positive work, positive emotion or positive intention has a force multiplier effect. Positivity is the manifestation of the human spirit in the face of adverse conditions which if nurtured properly can surmount any difficulty. It flows in every possible direction bringing in that feeling of well being not only to the individual but also the society.
I believe it is high time we start focusing more on the positive aspects of life and society and let the positive energy spread through good thoughts and deeds. Let it do it’s stuff, wonderful stuff.
When you think positive, good things happen.