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Empowering Lives: The Badlav Story Part 3 (in English)

Badlav's first success came when Sharad helped 2 beggars get their rickshaws. Sharad rented the rickshaws by depositing 500 INR from his savings, as a security deposit with the vendor. Once people saw pulling rickshaws as a way to earn money respectfully and sustainably, more people followed suit. Observing how these 2 people earn their livelihood, other beggars started approaching Sharad for help. This brought a wave of change as a desire to become self-reliant was ignited among the beggars. Gradually, Badlav expanded and started helping 9 beggars. Slowly, they started earning enough money to purchase a mobile phone. Surprised, this urged even more beggars to approach Sharad. They were content despite making only 50-60 INR daily than the 70-80 INR through begging as this money was hard-earned by themselves. However, there was still another challenge that the beggars faced. Since they had no place to live, they often had their possessions and money stolen at night. Furthermore, they had to live on footpaths, which led to frequent health problems.

Despite these challenges, Sharad continued working relentlessly and found a solution. According to Sharad, a beggar couldn't just approach a shelter home for a roof. He had to be arrested by the police, charged with begging and only when the magistrate adjudicated him to be put into these shelter homes as a punishment, could they stay there. Moreover, the shelter homes were being used as a jail for the offence of begging. He managed to help more than 400 beggars to take possession of government shelters under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Four beggars have joined Sharad in this movement by spreading awareness among other beggars through street plays. The journey started by Sharad had become a chain, where beggars he had previously helped before are helping to rehabilitate other beggars.

Sharad has always advocated ‘learning the work’ and not that of earning money. He connected the beggars with his existing network of people who operated juice stalls, chai dhabas and other micro-businesses as a means of living. This initiative enabled the beggars to become skilled, earn some money and be capable of running their micro-businesses.

“Sharad Bhai is like a God to me. My parents were vegetable sellers. I have always seen them work hard to earn. How could I beg? But I was helpless. I pray every day for the well-being of Sharad Bhai”, said Shravan, who is now self-reliant. Sharad believes that he merely does the work of a facilitator and should not be credited for all the work. He believes that the credit goes equally to his beggar friends, his family, his partners and his partner organisations.


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