A homemaker is a woman who takes all the responsibilities of family. She manages her family, takes cares of her children, cooks for the family, buys goods that the family needs for everyday life, in addition to these things housekeeping, cleaning and maintaining the home are also part of her daily routine.Therefore, it becomes very difficult for a home maker to become a social worker with her household work.
But Nibedita Bhanja, who lives in Bhubaneswar and who is a home maker, proved that the passion to work for the people can make everything possible. She faced all the hardship but managed her family along with social work and became a social activist.
How did you start your journey as a social activist?
I was inclined to do something for the people work from my childhood days. As a child, I have seen my mother teaching around 50 students of class X free of cost. However, it was very difficult for her to buy books for them and to teach so many children. At one point of time, she even sold some of her jewelries for teaching those students. Not only her students were grateful towards her but others also lauded her for her efforts. That drove me to do something for others.
However, I did not have favorable circumstances to cherish my dream to work for the people.Following my graduation from a college at Puri, the family fixed my marriage in 1994. After marriage, I was having an additional responsibility towards the family of my in-laws as my mother-in-law had already died and everyone there were dependent on me, I had to keep the family together. I became more busy in family life after having kids. As my children started growing up, things started settling and I found time to invest in other activities.
In between 2014 and 2016, I associated myself with two organizations where I was engaged in various social activities. In 2000, my husband registered an organization ‘Helpmate’, through which he was trying to help people within his reach. Along with helping him, I also worked with few other organization. While working with them, I realized that I could also run a social organization on my own.
I started my journey during the Pathotsav. I got a major support back then, to promote my organization and grab the attention of the people towards the various works I was associated with. Through several awareness drive, I could reach out to a large number of people.Currently, we have 77 members in our organization. The ‘Helpmate’ work towards upliftment of the specially-abled children and handicaps.
Over the years, I have worked for the aged people, the autistic and the mentally challenged children. That has changed my perception towards such children.In 2017, I started working for the deaf, dumb and visually impaired students. I provided 17 students with the audiovisual study material specially made for them. Since, then we have been providing it to at least 20 children every year.Moreover, we are conducting awareness drives on cancer, AIDS, De-addiction on different platforms, sensitization programme on Dengue in slum areas.Even at present, we are working towards covid awareness. We are counselling people on how to survive with the virus, the precautions they can take to keep themselves safe.
What is your source of Funding?
We usually contribute among ourselves for most of the initiatives. This apart, we publish a magazine ‘Bandhuta’ once a year for which we collect advertisements. We use the proceeds from it for various social activities. Fortunately we never had to seek help from any political party. Also, all the members working with us are selfless and supportive. Funding has never been a major hindrance. We save enough to keep our activities going.
What has been one of your happiest moment during your journey as a social activist?
During the Raksha Bandhan we had been to a blind school. I was happy seeing the attachment of the children with us and it gave me immense joy to celebrate the day with them.I also cherish the days when we went to distribute food packets to the needy people during the peak period of Corona. During cyclone Fani also we went to distribute relief materials to the affected people. Helping them cope up with the losses gave me a feeling of fulfilment.
What would be your message to people those who want to engage them in social work?
I would only like to say that God often gives us more than we ask for. We should be conscious enough to help others in need with that extra we get.For Covid I would like to urge upon people not to panic. We can survive along with it with a little awareness and proper precautions.