For them it's a bridge too close

For them it's a bridge too close

For them it's a bridge too close

It’s a different kind of bridge. It comprises only women and aims at “bridging” the gap between people and their environment and different communities. And like any other bridge that starts with a single pillar, this “Bridge” too began with a handful of women--all friends--and later on the numbers grew steadily.

Like many others of her ilk, 45-year-old Neelam Agarwal, a resident of the Taj city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh, too could have gone about her daily chores of keeping the house, taking care of the family and at times, going to kitty parties.

She, however, chose to do something very different. Something that not only provided her satisfaction but also served society.  And it was this urge within Neelam that gave birth to the idea of the “Women Bridge”.

“It is a group of women from the city, which is connected through the social media network and it shares a common ideology--to do something constructive for society,” says Neelam.

The group is actively engaged in creating awareness on conservation of birds, which are on the verge of extinction, and providing help to the needy and deprived sections of society. “We do not seek help from anyone. It’s a principle that every member of the group follows in letter and spirit. We spend our own money, which is not much. It is essentially pooling of resources,” Neelam, who initiated the idea about the project,  told Deccan Herald.

The Women Bridge distributes specially designed nests for sparrows, which have become rare these days, provides the poor and needy with the clothes as well as books. “We also organised an exhibition in Agra where different types of specially designed nests for the sparrows were displayed. The response was very encouraging. We were able to find a large number of buyers for the nests,” she said.

It all started about a year back, when Neelam’s only daughter Dhavni Agarwal, got married and left the house to live with her husband.

Wife of a government employee, Neelam suddenly started feeling bored. “I spent  first few days after my daughter left  in crying. She is the only child and I missed her badly,” Neelam said.

“Suddenly I realised that I have nothing to do. My husband was posted at Mathura, about 50 km away and there was not much to do at home,” she added. During those days she thought of doing something constructive for society through collective efforts.

“It all started with me and my four other friends. We came together and formed a group. We named it Women Bridge. I made all four of them administrators of the group and asked them to add as many members as they could,” she said.

The numbers gradually swelled and when Neelam decided to convene a meeting of the group, she was surprised to find around 200 members. “It was a pleasant surprise,” she remarked.

“We decided to do little things to help the needy and deprived people. I asked the members to donate woollen clothes, which they had discarded because their children were now grown-ups,” she said.

 “Soon we had woollen clothes in different sizes and shapes and then we decided to distribute them among the construction labourers, maids and other poor sections of society. We were able to give them the clothes they could not afford and needed badly to ward off the cold,” Neelam said.

“We then moved on for conservation of the sparrows. I arranged specially designed nests from Nashik. They were in different shapes, designs and sizes. I asked the members to hang at least one of them somewhere in their house so that the sparrows can live there,” she said.

The response was “terrific”.  “Not only the members, others also contacted us for the nests,” she added.

The group collected books from members and distributed them to the needy children. “It is so simple. Otherwise, we sell textbooks and used notebooks as scrap when our children move to higher classes. Books are so costly these days that not many, even the lower middle class people, can afford to buy them,” Neelam said.

She has been felicitated by several organisations in the city for her constructive work. “I feel great, when I find that our work has benefitted the needy and deprived ones,” she said.

She knows that society needs much more and there is very little she and her group is doing. “Yes, it may not be much but then little drops make an ocean. We will continue to do whatever we can for society,” she added.

The Women Bridge now has 300 members and the strength is growing. “More members mean more work. Members are joining on their own volition,” Neelam said.

Neelam’s daughter is pleasantly surprised at her mother’s transformation. “She feels that her marriage proved lucky for me,” Neelam said.