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Sunday Special » People

Posted at: Jan 8, 2017, 12:41 AM; last updated: Jan 8, 2017, 12:41 AM (IST)

Show some warmth

Jasmine Singh in Chandigarh
Big cities can be cruel for those without homes. Extreme weather tests residents’ sensitivity and govt’s reliability. The Tribune team goes along with good samaritans as well as with migrants to gauge the warmth in our hearts
Show some warmth
Volunteers donate blankets to the homeless in Chandigarh. Photo: S. Chandan
Sammy Kashyap (25) is like many others in his group, both in his feelings and expression. They were told to make ‘The cold doesn’t kill, but the lack of clothing does’ as their WhatsApp Status. They thought to make it happen for the lives of hundreds who shiver in corners of streets in Chandigarh and Punjab. They pooled in money to buy blankets and distributed them among the needy in winter nights.

“We don’t chalk out a plan. We just drive around Punjab and Chandigarh, near hospitals, religious places, bus stops, railway stations and bus stands. We leave blankets for those who don’t have one. Maybe they can have a good night’s sleep.” There are others like him.

A survey by a Delhi-based NGO says that many homeless people sleeping on the roadside cover themselves with gunny bags, old plastics. Poor clothing material and absence of safe drinking water cause fever, cold and other diseases. Vicky Verma of Royal Group in Zirakpur decided to do more than just post and share the survey on his Facebook page. “In UP alone, many have already died of cold. This is just the beginning of a chilly winter in North,” says Vicky. He goes out with his group distributing blankets and quilts to the needy and homeless. 

This group drives out everyday around 10 pm, looking for the needy. “Money is raised collectively by volunteers. We distribute around 15-20 blankets every day. All the boys of this group are working. Each night, they all take time out to drive around the city looking for ‘genuinely’ needy people. “We know there are many who’d hoard our stuff,” says Vicky. 

Nishi Singh, an NGO worker from Surajpur, said: “You don’t get pure cotton yarns these days. This means good, old cotton rajais are not available. Instead, you get ultra-light fleece or electric blankets. And do you think, these light blankets are any good to those who sleep out?” 

In one such outing, they found Meena, old, abandoned and helpless, near Sector 14-15, Chandigarh. Many called her ‘mad’. She says her sons live in Delhi and are “very rich.” “When a volunteer gave her a warm blanket, she cried and hugged him,” says Sammy. Similarly, they also found Ram Sakha, near Sai Baba temple, Sector 29. “He begged for food and blanket. He did not even remember where he has come from. For him, we are a godsend,” says Vicky.

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