Be the Cause

Pravin’s smile

Note: Shirish, a dedicated Manav Sadhna volunteer and friend of ours wrote this story. Some of the travelers to India worked on Pravin’s house for one day while we were there. This is such an beautiful, touching story about the power of helping one another and how it effects can ripple out. I am posting it for Shirish.

Pravin now seventeen is one of many Manav Sadhna kids He came, with curiosity, to our non formal school at Tekra centre six years ago. We never saw him smile or be happy like the other kids. We went to see his home. His dad was very ill with TB and alcoholism. He has three younger sisters, mom and grand mother. The entire family depended on the then 12-13 year old Pravin to survive. The hut, his home, had no roof and one wall was missing. Every year during monsoon season all the water ran through the house, like a river. Now we understood why he never smiled like other kids. He would walk 15 km every day to earn 40-50 rupees from polishing boots. In the evening he would look for more work to earn more money. His eighty year old grandma and sick mom also walk miles every day to rag pick (find recyclable papers and plastic) through the garbage on the street. Based on how much they all earn they would then decide to buy medicine, oil, salt, wood, flour and if there was enough may be vegetables every day for their one and only meal.

We quickly realized that education was the last thing on his mind. He wanted to see his Dad get better and make more money so his pregnant mom could rest and so his old grandma did not have to work so hard. So we got him a job at a printing press and gave him a bicycle. We started TB treatment for his father with the condition that he would quit drinking. His dad started walking around now. We saw Pravin smile a little for the first time. But the daily cash was needed and some days Pravin could not go to work. So the job did not last. His father died because both of his lungs were 100% gone. The family was immediately helped with six months grocery for the short term.

We started the ICDS nutrition project at Manav Sadhna where we needed a delivery of fresh food to the centers in Tekra. So we loaned 3500 rupees to Pravin to purchase a paddle rickshaw ( a kind of cart usually with a bicycle attached to pedal the cart around) and employed him and his friend to deliver this food to eighteen centers for three hours a day. Now he earns 1700 rupees a month from this job and with his friend distributes food to the one thousand very poor kids . Evenings he makes other trips using the rickshaw and makes more money. His mom is healthy now. He is an extremely hardworking honest and fun young men now. It is so nice to see him smiling and playing around with other kids all the time now. His sister Umiya, mother and grandma also are seen in very relaxed and lighter moments now.

This December as one of the Manav Sadhna project, Pravin’s house project became possible. With total love, dedication and service from many volunteers his house was renovated and made pakka (complete). With a proper kitchen and sanitation facility. Last week some of our gifted artists went and decorateed his house with more love. Now it is a new and beautiful home. It is impossible to describe the moment and experience of family entering in the home after a small ceremony. The love, smiles and happiness was pouring from every one present at this very simple puma and prayer.

Pravin recently came to one of us and took us to a very old man pushing the cart for miles every day selling the clay pots. He pointed out that their tires are shot so he would have to work very, very hard to push his cart. The older man is so old and weak Pravin said, “How can WE help him?” Some money was given to him to help the old men for new tires for his cart. The very next day Pravin was back with change and the biggest smile you can imagine on his face –“All four tires are fixed. The cart runs so smooth now and the old man is so happy”.

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