On Thursday evening, The Free Press Journal felicitated 10 'Angels of Mumbai' who have been working selflessly to give back to society in fields ranging from education, hunger alleviation, sports, housing and social welfare programs, among others. There were also two special mentions.
The inspiring event was held at the Free Press House, Nariman Point, and was graced by chief guest Vishwas Nangre Patil (Additional Director General of Police, Anti Corruption Bureau), and guests of honour – actor Saiee Manjrekar, Abhijit Ghorpade (general manager, Marketing & PR, MIDC), PC Baror (divisional general manager, corporate communications, SBI) and Vivek Kamath (CEO, UBI-Social Foundation) – besides many corporate bigwigs and eminent personalities from different walks of life.
The programme commenced with a musical performance by children of 'The Sound Space' NGO.
Angels of Mumbai award winners
The winners were shortlisted from a list of 40 people who have been working as lone warriors or as an organisation to look after the needs of the marginalised.
Some had started work that they always wanted to do but took up during Covid when the marginalised sections were the worst hit. Speaking at the event, senior IPS officer Vishwas Nangre Patil said, “The Bhagwad Gita talks of 'kriya' and 'karma'.
The first is about one's own work, educating children, looking after family and all things that can be qualified as self-centred. Karma is about selfless service. These angels have worked for love, help and service.
They have done selfless deeds and fought for a right and heavenly cause. He complimented FPJ for the constructive and positive change it has been working on since 95 years of its existence and for honouring those into philanthropic activities.
AOM inspires actress Saiee Manjrekar
Saiee Manjrekar said, “It is very inspiring to be present, to be a part of this and hear their stories.”
Bani Das – one of the first winners of the 'Angels of Mumbai' tag for her work towards educating children of sex workers and survivors of human trafficking said, “Society needed to look at children of sex workers as no different from other children. They have the same dreams as others. They should not be treated any differently.”
One of the jury members, Roshni Nuggehalli said, “Diversity of the candidates was among the key things to select the winners. These winners have tried to look at the larger system to understand the problem.
So if people are on the street, they have realised it is due to a lack of education. If they do not have education, they have figured out there is no education because there is no money.” Among the other jury members who participated in shortlisting the angels were Vivek Gilani, Deepa Varadarajan, Roshni Nuggehalli and Nitya Kaushik.
RAWW founder Pawan Sharma felicitated at the event | FPJ
Chief guest Vishwas Nangre Patil felicitates Bani Das, founder of Kranti | FPJ
Social activist Digambar Surlata Bagul felicitated at the event | FPJ
Bani Das & Robin Chaurasia, Founders of Kranti
Bani Das was a single mother in her early 20s when she began working with a non-profit that required her to visit women in prison. Through her work, she met Robin Chaurasia – an Indian-American woman also working as a volunteer in India. In 2010, Robin and Bani set up Kranti.
Deepa Pawar, Founder Director of Anubhuti Trust
Over 22 years, Deepa Pawar has worked with youth, women, communities, colleges and government agencies on issues of gender, health, rights, leadership, sanitation, and more. Since 2018, Deepa has also operated a mental health prog for those who have poor access to healthcare
Abdul Munaf, Founder of Gully Classes Foundation
In 2018, Abdul Munaf started Gully Classes with his friends, where they taught underprivileged kids in a garden and on a street corner. He now runs Gully Classes in Jagruti Nagar in Ghatkopar (West), where 90 students study. Apart from teaching the students, Abdul’s volunteers also conduct extracurricular activities.
Digambar Surlata Bagul, Social Activist
A PhD student at TISS researching social justice policies in higher education and post-matric scholarships in the state, in 2018 Digambar Surlata caused the state government to widen its budget for the Swadhaar scheme, which provides financial assistance for accommodation and food for scheduled caste students.
Sabah Khan, Founder member of Parcham
Parcham is an organisation committed to justice and is the voice of the marginalised. Parcham initiated a football programme to bring Muslim and non-Muslim girls together. Started in Mumbra in 2012, Parcham has trained nearly 1,500 girl footballers in the eastern and western suburbs of Mumbai. It created history when through a signature campaign and lobbying with elected representatives and bureaucrats, they managed to reserve a ground exclusively for women and girls in Mumbra.
Dr Sam Taraporevala, Founder, XRCVC
The brainchild of Dr Sam Taraporevala – the Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC) – was started in 2003 at St Xavier’s College. The XRCVC offers a range of support services to people with disabilities, their caregivers, educators and institutions. Dr Taraporevala, who retired as associate professor and head of the sociology and anthropology departments at the college, has been on key academic committees and disability bodies.
Bilal Khan, Housing Rights Activist
Bilal Khan has been a part of several major movements that involved seeking resolution for homelessness, absence of basic amenities in the city’s vast informal housing and in legal interventions seeking housing rights for all. Khan’s work on housing rights dates back to 2013 when he began to work with the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Aandolan.
Pawan Sharma, Founder of RAWW
Mulund resident Pawan Sharma was in college when he registered RAWW, an animal welfare organisation, in 2012. After conducting several dog and cat rescues, he felt few people could rescue wild animals such as snakes, leopards, jackals, and the occasional pangolin or crocodile that strayed into suburban areas.
Chetan Kamble, Founder of Chakachak Dadar
Chandrakant Kamble, nicknamed Chetan, started Chakachak Dadar in 2017 to help citizens of Dadar tackle municipal problems, helping them to approach officials, lodging complaints and ensuring redressal of grievances. He also assists the local traffic police regularly in keeping arterial roads free of encroachments.
Shweta Chari, Cofounder & CEO, Toybank- Development through Play
Over 18 years, ToybankDevelopment through Play – a project by The Opentree Foundation – has created more than 500 Play2Learn centres, impacting over 62,000 at-risk children in schools and communities across Mumbai and 12 districts of Maharashtra.
Dhammarakshit Randive, Cultural Activist
Inspired by Ambedkarite music, Dhammarakshit Randive knew when he came to Mumbai that he wanted to work as a cultural activist. In 2014, he and a group of theatre artists set up Yalgaar Sanskrutik Manch. The group continues the tradition of Maharashtra’s shahirs, but with strains of experimentation. The group has performed over 300 shows called ‘Jaagar Samtecha Shahiri Jalsa’ across villages, inspired by Ambedkar, Phule, Annabhau Sathe, the Marathi saints and others.
Trivankumar Karnani, Founder-Convenor of Mumbai North-Central District forum
Started in 2015 as a citizens' welfare and grievance redressal platform, the Mumbai North Central District Forum, caters to the entire Parliamentary constituency of northcentral Mumbai. It has grown into a multi-faceted civil society group. working towards participatory governance.
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