‘Friends of People’, Striving to be an instrument of service and peace by engaging in constructive programs in villages. They are not limited to any organisations or projects but instead through their presence they build a culture of family and community.
Anil bhai is young and enthusiastic lok mitra living in Vaghajipur village for almost a year now. Since Anil bhai was a young kid, he saw Jaldeep bhai serving as a lok mitra in his village and from that he found his inspiration. He feels that it is because of Jaldeep bhai’s attention and care or kids in his village, many kids including him, chose better paths in their lives.
At very young age, Anil bhai lost his father due to alcohol addiction. He grew up seeing many challenges in his family and similar circumstances in other families of village. Now he works towards spreading awareness on addictions. He is also feels passionate about education and thinks that education plays a major role to bring families out of poverty. He has a big collection of books and offers books to people in his village and inspires them to read books. During his time in Vaghjipur, he has held N.S.S. camp, breast cancer camp and organic farming camp along with regular coaching for students, inspiring people to cultivate hygienic life-style, taking care of the cleanliness of public areas of village and providing fresh water and food for birds, dogs and ants in village. Some of his favorite books are Gandhi ji’s Gram-Swaraj and books written by Babalbhai Mehta. In his free time he likes to cook, travel and read.
Navka ben and Rakesh bhai
Navka ben and Rakesh bhai are couple lok mitra who lives in of Kada village. They are as lok mitra for Kada, Raniyapara and Kharod village. They both have backgrounds of social work and agriculture. They love to interact with people and listen to their stories. Along with their kid Vruj, they regularly visit elderly people in their village and everyday feed birds, fishes, ants and dogs. They take interest in educational activities for kids and run tuitions in their home.
They inspire people to become more aware for addiction free life style and importance of hygiene habits. They dream is to start a Gruh-Udhyog that could help poor women and widows of their village. Navka ben loves to spend time with kids and Rakesh bhai loves to study and experiment new farming techniques.
Bhupat bhai Kamalia – Lilapur, Rahapur, Bharvadvas village
After graduating from Gujarat Vidhyapith and inspired from Gandhi ji’s ideas to work for communities in villages, Bhupat bhai decided to dedicate his life for the upliftment of villages. He has been living in Lilapur village for more than five years now and since then he has worked in multiple areas in Bharvadvas, Lilapur and Rahapur village. Brave and gentle in nature, he has tremendous faith God’s will and sees Jayesh bhai and Gram-shilpi as his inspiration. He loves to work with kids and young people. His efforts towards education have brought lot of awareness in his village youth and with his guidance, many young people have made inspiring shifts in lives and scored better in their academics. In free time, he likes to visit a lake of his village and watch birds, listen inspiring talks, Gujarati songs, learn English and visit Mahadev temple. One of his favorite lines is “Hari hadve hadve halave maru gadu”.(God slowly slowly pushes me further.)
Jayeben Soja, Gadhada and Juna Fudeda village
Jayaben feels that love is the most powerful force in our world and to bring real change in our communities, we must generate more love in our interactions with one another. She believes that mentoring young kids with love has biggest potential to create compassionate and responsible communities everywhere. Thus, big part of her time in village is dedicated for kids. She is also in charge of women’s dairy and strongly feels that dairy industry can bring much needed financial freedom to women in villages.
Currently, she lives with these questions: What is the real meaning of backwardness (in the context of calling certain class of people backward)? & true space of money in our lives and in today’s world? Her inspiration in life comes from Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta and Shri Kabir Das ji’s poetries and bhajans, which she finds to be giving her refuge in the time of confusions or sadness.
Pankaj bhai Mehariya, Punadara Village
Pankaj bhai lives in Punadara village for about five years now. He was inspired by Raghu bhai, who ran free tiffin service for elderly people in slums of Ahmedabad city. Raghu bhai had lost his legs due to polio at a very young age but his faith in life and commitment to help others was contagious to everyone who met him. After meeting Raghu bhai, Pankaj bhai felt to moved that he too decided to offer all of his skills and time for the service of others in need and he felt called to live in a village to do that.
It has been almost five years to this decision and Pankaj bhai’s commitment and efforts are very much visible in Punadara village. He has helped bring library, toilets, street lights, water-tank, smart class, preserving and renovating heritage buildings and temples in village, pensions for over hundred widows and senior citizens, arranged health camps, inspired farmers to practice natural farming, brought local employment opportunities and lot more.
People of Punadara share their deepest of struggles with him. You’ll see him equally participating in people’s joys and sorrows as he has now become a son, a brother and a close friend to people of Punadara village.
If you come to Punadara, he will take you on hikes in forest and walks in fields, visit serene Vatrak river and temples located on its bank, meditate at some peaceful and hidden ashrams around the village or have conversations with elderly people and gain knowledge about farming, natural healing and experience true rural way of living. In his free time, he sings folk songs, reads books and studies natural farming. Along with his wife Kamini and three year old daughter Khushi, he lives a very humble life and works tirelessly towards his dream to make Punadara a prosper and self sustained village community.
Yashaswi Desai – Juna Vasiya ni Muwadi, Punadara
Born and raised in Vadodara, Yashaswi was always passionate about spiritual ecology, biodiversity conservation and sustainable life choices. Daughter of a wild life conservator father, she grew up surrounded by nature and has travelled forests across the country. She has been actively involved in many social causes for almost a decade now and her work for girls’ empowerment has been showcased and awarded in multiple institutes.
Her inspiration to leave a city and more to a village was simple; she wanted to live closer to nature and learn from communities that were directly dependent on nature’s gifts. So, in the beginning of 2020, she moved to Juna Juna Vasiya ni Muwadi in Punadara village with her husband. They now live a slow life on a farm located on the bank of Vatrak river. Yashaswi and her husband, Akshay, spend lot of their time in educational activities with kids, such as reading, writing, math, art and music, along with that, they also introduce and practice silence, prayer and introspection with kids. Along with kids, they experiment natural farming in their front yard. In their short time in village, they have already bonded deeply with their new village community.
Yashaswi loves to go on hikes and never misses to watch a sun set. In her free time, she likes to write, read, dance, cook, play with her dog and meditate.
In conversation with few other Lokmitras