On September 18, 2016, four militants attacked an Indian Army headquarters in Uri, Kashmir. Reported as one of the “deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir”, the event stirred up intense discussions on the Internet. To 16-year-old Gaurishi, the lack of sympathy for the dead soldiers' families was shocking.
No matter how you looked at it, these were people who had lost their loved ones. Especially the families of the lower cadre – often lost their breadwinner. Gaurishi decided to help these families in their time of sorrow and despair.
A way opens up for the truly inspired
That same month, Gaurishi needed a social service project for her school. “Instead of doing something for causes like cancer, or children's welfare – which get enough support, I decided to help the families of martyrs who often need a lot more support than the existing Army compensation,” says Gaurishi.
Gaurishi (second from right) with her school classmates
She got an appointment at the Army headquarters in Delhi. As a national organisation, however, their requirements were far too stringent for Gaurishi. “When we got to Delhi and met the people in charge they asked us to prepare a thorough proposal that was a bit too much for a school-kid,” says Sabeen, Gaurishi's mother.
They came back unsuccessful, but Gaurishi did not give up. She and her mother reached out to everyone in their network of friends about serving martyrs' families. They connected her to Capt. Ratnaparkhi in the Zilla Sainik Parishad and the project took off.
The needs of each Army widow are different
Capt. Ratnaparkhi connected Gaurishi to widows of Army personnel who needed immediate financial support. Sumati Yadav, 75, a widow at 33, urgently needed funds for her son's treatment. At 75, Surekhaben wants to work, but she didn't have any skills. Another is a sheltered child bride who needed some support in deciding what to do next. It was clear that these women needed more than just monetary support.
Sumati Yadav, whose son is fighting a terminal illness and needed an urgent surgery
With Capt. Ratnaparkhi's mentorship, Gaurishi was able to shape up the 'Mission Army Widow Empowerment (AWE)'. Besides the immediate financial help, the project was to establish a platform where these women could reach out to organisations that could help them with legal assisstance, skill development, livelihood, etc.
For funds, she started a campaign on Milaap. With her mother's help, Gaurishi reached out to her network raising over 5 lakhs. This while balancing her busy school schedule. It was not an easy task. “More than anything else, I learnt that to really achieve something you need to commit to it completely. Sometimes, I fell behind on schoolwork – but my teachers were understanding,” she says.
The way forward for Mission AWE
“We hope to help more women through the project. Even though Gaurishi might need to focus on her studies, we still intends to actively carry on the work we started,” says Sabeen.
As Gaurishi demonstrates – nothing is too hard if one is determined. Start your own campaign and fundraise for a cause that matters to you today.Read More on how crowdfunding works iIndia.