It is past 10:00 PM on a cold, wintry night in Delhi as a busy day is slowly coming to an end. Office goers and shopkeepers can be seen wrapping up their businesses and reaching out to the relative comfort of their homes. Winters in the NCR region have always been bone-chilling with temperatures plummeting into single degree Celsius during the nights. It’s that time of the year when the more than 25 million Delhites are forced to weather the foggy mornings, cold afternoons and chilly evenings. For the poor living in the capital however, the months of December and January pose a much stiffer challenge.
An estimated one percent of the population in Delhi dwell on the pavements with the majority being those who have come to the capital in the hope of making a decent living. In a city short on land and sky-rocketing real estate prices, the migrants without proper accommodation are then forced to settle down on the roadside and brave the cold winds.With the temperatures falling gradually with every passing year, more and more people are succumbing to these harsh winters. Government statistics reveal that winter cold ranks second in India in the most dangerous natural disasters outranking even floods. Reports had suggested that on an average, eight people died every night in Delhi during the last winter despite the best efforts of the civic authorities. According to the Zonal Integrated Police Network under the Union Ministry, 33518 homeless people have died between January 2004 and October 2015.
With the mission to assist the poor suffering on the roads of Delhi, a group of youngsters had come together in 2015 to form “Project Sleep Well”, a not-for-profit initiative in partnership with Centre for Holistic Development (CHD) and New Opportunities for Women (NOW). Project Sleep Well aims to provide sleeping bags to the impoverished and help them survive the adverse weather conditions in Delhi, all year round, whether summer, winter or the monsoon. The short-term plan of the organisation is to provide immediate relief from the harsh conditions of sleeping on the roadside. As part of the long-term vision, the organisation is also working towards training homeless people without regular income in the skill of sewing, stitching and tailoring thus providing employment as well.
Distribute sleeping bags over the usual blankets for the following reasons:
- Blankets are heavy and cumbersome to carry around. A homeless person does not have a cupboard or a loft where he/she can store the blanket.
- Even if a person has a blanket, it fails to insulate him from underneath (homeless persons usually sleep on hard, rough surfaces)
- Winds manage to seep through the gaps in the blanket.
- On a cold Delhi winter night one needs at least 2-3 blankets to keep warm.
- The blankets become wet and cold when the dew settles in during winter- completely defeating the purpose of the blanket.
The organisation feels a sleeping bag that costs almost the same price as a blanket is a much better solution to providing immediate relief to the homeless from the cold winter nights. Currently, Project Sleep Well is seeking for volunteers and donors who could help them reach out to more street dwellers and has already raised over Rs.90,000 last year and are aiming to raise close to 5 lakhs this year from various contributors.
An opportunity to directly impact the life of someone and give them few crumbs of comfort…
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