Mumbai : Diwali and gifts go hand in hand. But few care for the plight of poor neglected tribals, who spend their nights in darkness, as they don’t have a light connection.

Finally, a group of right minded citizens from Mumbai have brought a new meaning to the lives of nearly 150 tribal families at Awarpada, a tribal hamlet of Wankas village near Dahanu.

On Sunday, the Mitra Foundation, a non-profit organization, distributed solar lamps to the 125 tribal families at Wankas and also celebrated Diwali with them.

These solar lamps are handy and can be charged even at a low 30 degrees Celsius temperature. Easy to handle, the lamps not only illuminate homes but are also portable and can be carried outdoors in the dead of the night.

Ahead of the loud Diwali festivities in Mumbai, these benefactors of the tribals, along with their family members, descended on this nondescript tribal hamlet.

‘’We could never celebrate Diwali due to poverty. But for the first time, our children lit crackers and celebrated the festival,’’ Sunil Hadal, a tribal of Awarpada said.

“In last so many years, nobody has come and danced with our children. These people have made such a difference to our lives,’’ said Vansi, an old and tearful lady. The tribals in turn organized the traditional “Tarpa” dance in which Mumbaikars enthusiastically participated.

 “We celebrate Diwali with our families. Our aim is that people from Mumbai should come forward and share their joy with tribals”, said Keshav Upadhye, Chairman, Mitra Foundation.

Suresh Hawre, promoter of Hawre Developers, who sponsored this event, said, “We do not construct mere walls. Creating homes and happiness is our priority. With this motive, we support various social causes and hence we are supporting the unique initiative”.

Leading legal expert Anita Bafna, who practices at the Supreme Court, said, “My Diwali celebrations begin with sharing the joy with these tribal children”. Anita was part of the Diwali celebrations at this tribal hamlet last year, too.  The NGO is working at Wankas, Awarpada, for the last one year. The non-profit organization focuses on providing water and health-care to the tribals.  It regularly organizes medical camps and has significantly contributed to the betterment of water supply in this hamlet.

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