They used up their savings to pull through the lockdown and now that tourism is slowly but surely picking up they want to be ready.
Who are we helping ?
Prakash ji and Sarojini ji live in their family home in a small village called Maral located on the way to Neelkanth from Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh. Along with their two sons, daughter in law and two beautiful grandchildren, they also share responsibilities to care for his aging parents. The sons earn as freelance drivers and the tea shop business put together is just enough for the family to get by. During the many months of lockdown all the sources of income were compromised. The restrictions in rural locations have been heavy and medical care far in between. As the state opened up for the economy and sanity, they are open for business. But it is dense, slow and unpredictable. With growing needs of the family a humble expansion was on the cards for 2020. It's not just about more mouths to feed but also the future of his grandchildren. The present tea shop, built about 7 years back, is a huge growth from where he started, the life he, his wife and his sons have seen in the growing years. The pandemic had other plans though. Their meager savings literally saved the day during lockdown but it can't hold them anymore.
Prakash ji has learnt much from life. He understands that things will find a new normal and better days are not far. He has the insight to know this is the right time to work on the expansion. But with savings gone, loan is the option. However it means that the only property, that is shared with the extended family, will be mortgaged and at the present interest rates it will be years before he gets any return on investment. I happened to make acquaintance with him at a time when he was looking for advice and suggestions.
Who am I ?
I am Kavya, a Bangalore based dancer midst a spiritual journey in the Himalayas since March 2020. I am moved to help Prakash Chand ji and his wife Sarojini Devi ji expand their quaint road-side tea shop.
What are the details of the project?
Prakashji’s tea shop is about 10’ x 30’ right on the only road to the famed Neelkanth MahaDev Temple which attracts local, national and international tourists. It is one of those cosy stalls you like to pit stop at on your long drives. Adjoining the present setup he would like to build two cottages and a bathroom that pilgrims and visitors can rent.
Break-up of the costs incurred for built - up area 160 sq.ft
Retaining Wall - 10,000
BrickWork - 20,000
Cement - 10,000
Utilities - 10,000
Labour - 20,000
Prakash ji is looking for help with a sum of Rs. 70,000 (1000USD) and the rest he hopes to manage himself as his contribution to the efforts of raising funds.
What you can do and Why contribute ?
You give 2/3rd - Prakashji puts 1/3rd
The built up cost is about Rs600/sq.ft. If you can spare Rs400/sq.ft. then Prakash ji will have to fend for only Rs200/sq.ft. A minimum contribution of Rs 400 is what we are looking at and then pass the word to a friend. If we can find 175 CONTRIBUTIONS through our NETWORK of family and friends, TOGETHER we have helped a SMALL BUSINESS survive and also feed a family for life. Large chains and big brands will have multiple ways to recuperate, expand and survive. If the pandemic has changed the hearts of the corporate world leaders is yet to be seen. More than ever during CO-VID 19 we, the general populace have understood why it is essential to help small businesses like that of Prakashji, who doesn't even own an android phone and doesn't understand the concept of online presence. They are the worst affected and especially those in the tourism sector. If we the educated Urban lot don’t show him that the country has his back then who will ? Your Sq.ft contribution will go a long way in supporting Prakash ji and his family.
Why do I want to help him ?
I had been working from one spot for so long that desperation for a change of atmosphere had set in. And this little place with nothing but Maggie, tea and monkeys did the magic. Prakash ji’s demeanor is warm and welcoming. On my first visit itself he offered me some lunch that he was making for the family and it was divine. Very simple menu but the love with which it was shared made it extraordinary. This became my frequent stop over on my mountain escapades and I noticed how humbly does his best to host every customer to their satisfaction. His needs are simple and the expansion is about adapting to changing time. When with hope in his eyes Prakash Ji consulted me I was moved. Having spent all his life in his village and a shop that needs him all the time it is through his customers he learns the way of the outside world.
Personally all of 2020 has been about embodying my learnings of Yoga. Seva or service is a path towards spiritual growth. Opportunities to serve present themselves in many ways and I see this as one for me. How can I be available to what the universe has brought to me is the question I'm answering right now.