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Kaushik Das: story of a Social Entrepreneur
"Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry."
integrated with normal society. As “Outlook India” commented, Kaushik Das's unique venture for the less fortunate blends with Gandhian simplicity, a tea taster's specialized and professional management skills.
The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People awarded Mr Das with the “Shell Helen Keller Award” in the year 2000 for his tireless and inspiring work for the disabled. Mr Das is also instrumental in starting “ the umbrella advocacy group” called Pragati - Confederation for the Disabled in Assam, which brings together N.G.O.s and individuals as its members.
Since Atma Nirbhar was designed to provide intensive support to its beneficiaries, Mr Das was not satisfied merely with a small number of beneficiaries. Being the social entrepreneur that he is,he started the Punya project in 1998 to further help residents of social welfare institutions in a more compassionate and humane level. In his own words, “Most people living in residential social welfare institutions feel very lonely and depressed because they feel cut-off / isolated from active society environment, confined within the four walls of their institutions . It is a sad reality that after a while even their own relatives stop visiting them. Herein, Kaushik Das and volunteers from his organization would visit these institutions spending quality time with its residents, carrying delicious snacks and sharing with the them. These visits would always be anticipated with much enthusiasm, as it was done at a very personal level, honoring the privacy and sentiments of these thriving individuals. By consciously avoiding any fanfare and sheltering them from intrusive flimsy media glare, the volunteers give their full focus and attention on the needs and necessities of these residents. The wants were mostly educational writing materials, school bags, school uniforms, clothes, footwear, recreational materials etc and the volunteers tried to mobilize and channelize such items from the ‘giving’ public.
“Punya” first changed its name to “Reaching Out”, and in 2008, became “Spreading Sunshine”. The primary objective of ‘Spreading Sunshine’ is to build ‘bridges’ between the civil society, and pockets of societal neglect and marginalized people. It is to improve the quality of life of the disadvantaged and marginalized people living in residential social welfare institutions, by providing them with ‘outside assistance’, mobilized from the giving public. Through this program many residential social welfare institutions have received school bags, notebooks, clothes, footwear, furniture, fans etc. In the states of Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland, over 13 residential institutions and more than 850 residents have benefitted from this project. This project has also received support from Assam Foundation of North America (AFNA) among others.