At the age of 21, when everyone is trying hard to make a career and earn money, Anmol Kwatra from Ludhiana has completed his BBA but compromised his dream to be a businessman. Anmol hails from a business family, but he has never got time away from his social work. He has been passionate about helping the needy from his childhood times. He started helping the people six years back but now he has an NGO called ‘We do not accept money or things’ which he entirely runs himself. His parents have been very supportive in whatever he does.
He was apprehensive about starting an NGO in the beginning because of the popular perceptions among the people that NGOs have become business oriented. Nobody has the will or passion to work for the needy in reality. He was worried how it will work. But he did an initial study and started ‘We do not accept money or things’ three months back. The NGO does not accept any money directly nor does not get engage in any fund raising. The NGO helps in connecting the donors and the needy. If the donor wants to help, he/she has to meet the needy and donate the money. They have donors all across the country even from abroad. Though he works alone, the organization has around 20,000-25000 registered members. Since he does not accept any funding, he pays expenses from his pocket.
‘We do not accept money or things’ mainly focus cases that deals with children up to the age of 13. But the doors are always opened for other cases. There have been many exceptional cases where Anmol has helped beyond the children focus approach.
Though he already has a broadcast list of donors on Whatsapp, he uploads videos of the needy on the Facebook page of ‘we do not accept money or things’ which also act as a medium to connect the donors with the needy.
Day to day challenges
Once Anmol gets the case, he visits the person to inspect the genuineness of the case. Most of the time out of 100 cases, 95 cases are fraud. Hundreds of people pretend to be poor and needy to extract money. Therefore, it is very important for him to analyze and undergo background checks of the concerned people in order to ascertain that money goes to the right hands. He inspects all the cases within 24 hours.After he is thorough with the checks, he arranges meeting for the donors and the needy within 24-48 hours.
Another challenge he faces is that whenever a case comes to him and he tries to reach out to the donors, the donors are sometimes not available due some reasons. With some donors, even after finalizing the schedules, they do not turn up. Therefore, in some urgent cases, it is very challenging to arrange the required money. If he does not get donors or runs short of the target amount, he pays from his pocket and arranges the money somehow.
“ I receive around 2000-2500 calls daily from across the country. That comprises of nearly 200 cases daily. But it is disappointing that we are unable to help every cases due to lack of resources and geographical barriers. In some cases, I have made a list of donors from other states and arrange to connect them with the needy. If a case comes from Ludhiana, I personally check everything. But if the case comes from outside Ludhiana, I select the most trustworthy donor and give the responsibility to analyze the case.”
Non Resident Indians (NRIs) staying abroad are very active donors and they are very willing to help in whichever way possible. The only issue is the geographical barrier. Since the organization believes the presence of the donor at the time of donating the money, sometimes even if they are willing to help, it becomes helpless. But for those who have relatives in Punjab, they direct their relatives to visit the places, meet the needy and donate the amount. Within India itself, the support and love he has got has been overwhelming. From an individual donor, the minimum the NGO has collected is Rs 10 and the maximum is Rs 51,000.
Anmol has seen many heartbreaking and stressful cases, but he recalls one beautiful experience. He said, “ There was a lady admitted at the Ludhiana’s Civil Hospital. She was about to deliver a baby. But her husband was a heavy drinker and drug addict. He left his wife at the hospital. The lady, right after delivery (she even had stitches) moved to another hospital with her baby due to short of money. She stayed there for 2 months because earlier she used to stay at a rented house and she did not have money to bear all the expenses. This case was reported to me. I went to check and was really touched. I collected around Rs 2.5 lakhs and relieved the mother and child from the troubles they were facing. When the hospital discharged the mother and the baby, the mother named her baby ‘Anmol’. This was the most beautiful moment.”
Wingmancare- another initiative to connect the donors away from Punjab
Anmol said that there are two groups of people who wants to help- One who has money and do not have time and the other group who do not have money but have time. Therefore, he thought of merging these two groups and work something productive. That is how the idea of www.wingmancare.com came about.
“ Wingmancare is a website that provides 50-70% discounts to all the stationery items. People who stays in Ludhiana can place the order and get it delivered at their homes for personal consumption or to donate to the schools.But specially for those who stays outside Punjab, it will act as a good platform to donate to the needy kids without visiting the places. I have asked those who do not have money to join me and help in reaching the donated items to the schools. The order now can be placed from all over the world.” Anmol decided initially that wingmancare will only cater to the government schools but he has made all the items accessible even to the private schools now”
The precarious condition of Government School
Anmol has visited almost around 250-300 schools and he talked about the pathetic condition of the government schools. He said, “ The condition of the government schools is miserable. I don’t know where the fund goes. The schools do not have proper classrooms, children sit on the floors, no proper sanitation and drinking water facilities. We have connected with the donors to donate benches, water filter etc to these schools.”
“Nobody visits government schools to interact with the students. I visit the schools on the bahana(excuse) of distribution of stationery items. Otherwise, if I just ask the school authority they will not allow me. Most of the students are not happy and they are depressed. They do not have people to talk to. For example, when I visited a school, a kid cried. He explained his problem to me that his father earns Rs 300 on wage and spend half the amount in drinking. When his father comes back homes, he beats his wife and kids. The kid is in depression and has nobody to share with. We should start interacting more with the students.” In this six years of service, he has helped almost 20,000 children”
No interaction with media before
Anmol expressed, “Media ask for money for coverage. All newspapers and news channels have called me up but they will always ask something in return. In Punjab its all about money. We are doing so good but no media is helping us. You can see our Facebook page, no prominent media has shared our page nor any of the videos which we have posted. If they start sharing the videos, we can get more donors and help the people. It is useless to pay the media for coverage because I can use the money to help the kids. Facebook is helping us. So many blessings come from Facebook. If there was no Facebook, I would not have been able to help any people.”
Reactions from local politicians and does he wish to join politics
He said, “The local politicians are trying to push me down because I am helping people and I have received love and support from many people. There are people who have been in politics for 40-50 years but they do not work for people like how we do. I don’t want to join politics immediately . But sometimes I think whenever I go to any hospital where I want to help, I want some power since many a times the hospital officials, the security guards, general people and the police misbehave with me. I thought many a times that politics will give me some power. But on the bright side, I have the power from people now- the love and support of the people I have received is enough for me at the moment.”
Message to the youth
“People tell me 21 years is not the age to do such things. But in 6 years, I have done something which I have wanted to do and which people will remember me. Therefore, I always say do something remarkable which is selfless when you are alive for which you will remembered in peoples’ hearts forever”, said Anmol.