"My baby was born a day before the fire broke out," said Rahul Bapurao Kharat, who lost his fruit juice business to the fire tragedy.
After a massive fire broke out on December 7, in Kandivali’s Damu Nagar area, a slum of over 2000 homes were destroyed. The blazing fire led to explosion of multiple cooking gas cylinders and charred every single object that came in its way, including bricks.
Twenty-seven-year-old Rahul Kharat, who is the sole bread earner of the family, now sits at home with no income or means to earn a livelihood. "I was so happy when I got the machine. I even took a picture of it. You want to see?" said an excited Rahul, who soon began to weep when he looked at his broken juice machine.
After the tragedy struck the family, Rahul had to sell parts of the broken machine to get some food grains. "Everything was burnt; I sold the motor to the scrap dealer, to get rice and daal. Now we are surviving on whatever the government giving. But they are not going to provide medical help for my baby, are they? The Vaccines? Everything is left," said a teary-eyed Rahul, who has not even named his child yet.
"I didn’t have a penny when I came to Mumbai three years back from Jaadna, Aurangabad. After selling fruits on the streets, I managed to save some money and now everything is gone. I don't want to name the child now," said Rahul. After a moment of silence, Rahul added saying, "For you people it's such a small thing right? But only I know what this machine has cost me. Saving 50-50 everyday. Sacrificing my wife's wishes. My own wishes," said Rahul.
Rahul now sits at home and survives on the help that people from all over the city have poured in over the weeks but somehow it isn't enough. His wife and new born child have gone to another family's house while Rahul puts things together. "I really don't want much. Just want my business to start again so I can give my family whatever I promised them of once having," he said.
Many youngsters like Rahul, who built small businesses with their sheer hard work and determination lost their livelihood in the fire and are looking for ways to restart their lives. Bridge, a Mumbai-based not-for-profit organization that is working towards rehabilitation of the Kandivali Fire survivors, will take utilize the funds raised to upskill men and youth in the area and help them set up their businesses again.
How will the funds be utilized?
He plans to purchase 3 juicers worth Rs 86,000 each; a full supply of fresh fruits for 3 months worth Rs 60,000 for 3 months to stabilize his business; a shelf-cart and refrigerator worth Rs 40,000 for storage. Remaining portion of ~Rs 40,000 would go towards paying for medication and vaccines for his newborn children
Bridge India, a partner of DNA Iamin - the hyperlocal news network will ensure purchase and rightful utilization of the above items.