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The Invisible Hero of Slum

I don't sleep hungry! Our problems were not bigger than the problems of the needy and hungry families.

People often say facing hardship in life makes him/her more sensitive to others’ suffering. One such example is of a 21-year old young boy named Kameshwar Shah, dwelling in a slum area of Uzan Bazar, Guwahati. He run errands, fish auctions, catering, etc to earn a living for his family of 6. Barely, he gets a daily wage of Rs.100 which he spends mostly on the upliftment of the rootless weeds: children of the slum.

You must have seen the gloomy faces of the slum children dwelling around busy streets undirected. But have you once stopped by them and asked for help? Young Kameshwar did ask them, not once but always. The children in the slum area with their heads hanging low deprived of all the basic amenities of life disturbs him the most.

Kameshwar was in his early adolescent, when he started contacting some NGOs to wipe out alcohol addiction prevailing in his community which led to many other problems such as- domestic violence, child labour, school dropouts, etc. Since then he has been working as a community youth leader for different organizations. H.S passed Kameshwar longed for pursuing a Bachelors degree in Social Work which he couldn’t do due to financial crisis. But he never stopped volunteering. He says-“I realized that having a degree is not important to do social work but what’s important is a strong will and determination to do something for the society.” Life is an ultimate teacher for him and experiences are his degrees.

He initiated an ‘Uzan Bazaar Child Protection Club’ with the motive of utilizing his skills to uplift the lives of the slum children in his locality. Through this club, they spread awareness to parents on the gravity of education, health and hygiene for their children, and also help them to access those needs. They also protect the children suffering from violence, exploitation and abuse. 

The club members hold meetings on weekends where they raise awareness among the children through activities. In Kameshwar’s words-“Whenever we meet, I ask them to speak on what they have learnt in the school throughout the week. I always emphasize them not to go school merely but to learn something new.”

Throughout his journey with different organization, he has gained many experiences. One such organization which has changed his life is ‘WAY-We Are Young Foundation’. Due to his sincere and enthusiastic behavior, he was always invited to participate in the webinars, workshops, etc conducted by WAY where he met different resource persons (both national & international). It helped him immensely in developing his skills which he could later on apply on the ground. He says-“Every time I visit WAY, I learn something new. I am really grateful for their support and inspiration. For me, WAY is like a family now.”

An attempt to ameliorate the pandemic situation

Kameshwar belonged to an economically weak background, he understood the problems of the poor in earning their daily bread during this pandemic and it helped galvanize him to volunteer to help them.

Young Kameshwar donated his earnings to collect fund for corona relief, which he gets by participating in fish auctions held near Uzan Bazar Ghat. WAY responded to his noble work and helped him in raising more fund through online fund raising platforms like Together they have collected a sum of money, using which they have supplied some essential food items such as rice, potato, salt etc to many poverty-stricken families. 

During the relief operation they had faced many problems like there were lack of transportation due to strict lockdown rules and heavy rainfall. Yet, they managed to reach out the needy ones. Kameshwar stated-“Our problems were not bigger than the problems of the needy and hungry families.” 

Be it any social welfare group, it functions only because of people like Kameshwar, who commit and dedicate their time and effort towards a common objective without the consideration of monetary benefits in return.

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