By Vybhavi Adiga, III Sem, Jain College.
Youth For Parivarthan (YFP) is a Bangalore-based NGO which was established in June 2015, seven months after the launch of ‘Swachh Bharath Abhiyan’. The NGO aims at addressing the cultural, social and health issues of the society. However, the main focus of Team YFP is ‘spot-fixing’- cleaning the premises of the city by clearing the garbage dumped on the pavements and taking off the posters stuck on the walls, followed by minor masonry work and painting Warli art on the walls. This was an initiative taken by Amith Amarnath and his friends in order to break through the ignorance amongst people and hence change their attitude towards a community’s health and hygiene.
The idea of initiating YFP ignited in Amith’s mind because of an incident that occurred near his residence. A park in his locality had garbage all around it. The facilities of the park were futile since no one could enter the park due to its unaesthetic ambience. Everyone only complained about the garbage and the stench. Nevertheless, no one tried to bring about any change in the area. But Amith’s approach towards this was different. “One does not need an inspiration to begin social work. All we need to do is understand our responsibilities towards the country”, says Amith, the founder and director of YFP. The mottos they follow are: “Stop complaining, start acting”, “Awake! Arise! Stop not until your goal is reached” by Swami Vivekananda and “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” by MK Gandhi.
The team of volunteers has ‘spot-fixed’ more than 72 areas in the city, mostly in South Bangalore. Initially, the volunteers’ family members were unhappy about the spot-fixing that they were up to, since cleaning roads and pavements is stereotypically an embarrassing ‘low-level’ job for people from the middle class to do. Additionally, the general public was unsure of YFP’s ability to continue maintaining the cleanliness of fixed spots in the long run. Despite continued skepticism from most people, YFP worked passionately to reach its goal. “When we first approached the BBMP, they weren’t convinced with our idea and were uncertain if they had to help us. However, once YFP began gaining popularity amongst the public for their work, the BBMP Mayor supported us and was extremely happy with our work.” says Amith. “Similarly, everyone’s response turned negative to positive”, he added. “We have never had the necessity to advertise. Volunteers join either out of responsibility or out of curiosity.”
“Most of the times all of us pooled in our own pocket-money to buy paints and brushes. But now we have others funding us as well, like the BBMP”, says Amith.
Most residents of fixed spots have been happy with the work done by YFP. Their act has relieved the areas from an unhygienic environment. Although many residents tried to involve in keeping the area garbage-free, several others continued to be negligent. There have been several instances where the posters have been stuck again on the walls of fixed spots and garbage has been thrown out of the waste-baskets that were set up. “The reformed places can become self-regulating in terms of cleanliness only if people start caring about our efforts”, says a volunteer. Despite this indifference, YFP’s volunteers have reworked several spot fixes in order to restore the cleanliness with an undying spirit and have emerged out successful.
“The most touching and memorable incident was when a 92-year old man joined the spot-fixing near Banashankari BDA complex and worked energetically until evening. It was an inspiration to YFP”, says Amith. YFP is expanding at a quick pace and is bringing together the citizens of Bengaluru to bring about a change in the city. They have several projects at hand and aim to cover wider regions of the city. “My journey at YFP has helped me become more responsible. YFP has taught me the importance of voicing our opinions”, he says.