By Team Kalamwali in Stories » True Story
Updated 10:40 IST May 09, 2020

Views » 1498 | 4 min read

Mashal, which means Torch, has been named rightly so. Not only for brightening up places that have struggled to come out of the darkness and see some light, but also for lighting up the path which commoners like us can follow. Incepted nearly 30 years ago, Mashal, founded by Sharad Mahajan, is an NGO that is dedicated to better lives of slum dwellers across cities. The team of Mashal, under the expert guidance of Sharad Mahajan and Board Members, Ashok Kulkarni and Neeta Chalke, has remained devoted to their journey of making the cities free of slums by improving the lives of those living in them.

It takes great courage and optimism, to step out of a comfortable world, to step in to a world filled with underprivileged lives and to work with them, so that they can turn their lives into something better for good. The saying, “Give a man fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime” defines Mashal’s actions. Going beyond putting food on the plates of those going hungry, the team of Mashal has created and offered life changing aid and opportunities to them. Making available, affordable Slum Housing, Sanitation, Education, Jobs, Livelihood, good Governance and Slum Mapping has been Mashal’s agenda and scope of work for every day that they have worked tirelessly. Mashal’s efforts of all these years cannot be quantified, having changed lives of thousands for the better, right from the grassroot level. In fact, Mashal has also created the first Slum Atlas of Pune.

So, as soon as the lockdown was announced, without wasting a moment, the team at Mashal got together, and leapt right into planning their relief work. Most slum dwellers had lost their source of income, and needed immediate help and attention. With the systems already in place, they decided to start helping with COOKED FOOD PACKETS AND RATIONS. They say, good karma, attracts good karma. Mr. Bansal, a humanitarian, reached out to Mashal, offering his premise- a Radha Krishna TEMPLE, where individuals from different backgrounds, castes, creeds, beliefs and even nationalities got together to collect, sort, pack and dispatch hundreds of food packets on a daily basis. Mr. Bansal even helped with food supplies along with many others who, through generous donations, made this drive possible.

28,000 PACKETS OF COOKED MEALS, 6,500 PACKETS OF RATION have been distributed, with an additional 4,000 PACKETS OF RATION underway. These ration packets weighed 13 kilos each and consisted of
ATTA- 5 kilos
RICE- 3 kilos
TUR DAL- 2 kilos
SUGAR- 1 kilos
SALT- 1 kilo
TEA- 200 grams
OIL- 500 ml
MASALA- 1 packet.

The beneficiaries of this campaign have been DAILY WAGE EARNERS, MIGRANTS, RAG PICKERS, SEX WORKERS, HOMELSS PEOPLE, OLD AGE HOMES AND ORPHANAGES. Every beneficiary has been documented as over 40 volunteers across Pune have personally been in charge of distributing supplies. To name a few who have been active on the field, caring little about their own safety are, Sharad’s son, Anoop Mahajan, Ganesh, Gopal, Vishnu, Mandar and Madhuri. A big shoutout to local Politicians like Siddharth Shirole and ex Bureaucrats like Mr. Ratnakar Gaikwad for their help with right permissions etc.

We all wish to give back to the society. But only a few of us are able to do it. The team at Mashal are creating a society of those who no longer blame their circumstances, for the life they live, but work to improve it with the help they receive. We, at Kalamwali salute Sharad Mahajan and everyone at Mashal for their altruistic work during the lockdown. To read more about Mashal and help them in their compassionate journey, visit https://mashal.org.in/

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