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'Who Cares' caring for the uncared in Darjeeling
Most of us welcomed the New Year attending parties, eating quality food and drinking wine, beer etc. – in short enjoying ourselves. But, a group in Kalimpong, Darjeeling better known as 'Who Cares' reached out to people who sleep on the streets providing them with lunch and a new set of clothes.

It was not for the first time that they have been involved in such acts, as they have been doing so whenever required on a regular basis, ever since Who Cares was formed in 2012. ''Nobody cares about them (street sleepers), but our group wants to help them as much as possible by providing them with basic amenities,'' said Aron Yonzone, founder of the group. More than seven such charitable activities were performed in 2012, while it rose to more than thirty in 2013. The number of such activities is only expected to increase in 2014.

'Who Cares' on field work

Aron had thought about the idea of helping people, who sleep on the streets from 2010 itself. But, it was fully materialised only on 26th July 2012, when he along with some other friends met people who sleep on the street (11 in total) and gave them bath, cut their hair, nails, shaved their beard, provided them with food, new clothes etc. These street people looked different and clean, more importantly, they had smiles on their faces. The group considers such smiles to be precious , may be a reward for their deeds.

Gradually, locals also became aware of the charitable act and started to join the group as volunteers, which is increasing day by day. Presently there are 930 members in the group including volunteers from foreign countries such as Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Germany, Hong Kong, Dubai and the United Kingdom.

Aron had photographed a number of people sleeping on the streets prior to forming the group and had saved it in a folder titled, 'Who Cares,' in his desktop, hence the name of the group. ''The street people do not receive any kind of love from anyone as we hear stories about them throwing stones at people as well. But nobody took up the initiative of helping them become a better person. '' There are a number of such people in the district of Darjeeling, but very few takers. It is at this juncture that the group comes into play.

Who Cares on field dutyWhen the group approached them on the streets, neither were they being stoned nor abused, but rather welcomed with open arms, which were longing for love and nothing else. On a regular field visit, around more than 50 volunteers gather and head over to such location. The volunteers see their condition and deal with them accordingly. If their clothes are dirty, they provide them with new clothes and the old clothes are disposed, as they become very dirty while sleeping on the streets. All the food, clothes, blankets etc are provided from their own pockets, as they do not have a sponsor as such.

Volunteers pay a sum of Rs 10 every month. Even foreign volunteer pay whatever amount they can and transfer the money to the group's account. There are a number of people in the group who are well placed in the society, so they do give a decent amount, which all goes in maintaining people from the street. Aron said, ''There is no hierarchy in the group at all. Everyone is the same, irrespective of being a founder or the social status of the person.''

'Who Cares' Group MembersThere are suggestions from various quarters asking the group to be registered as an NGO and also come up with a common house for such people. The group is working towards it. Aron said, ''We are planning to register as an NGO this year. After which, our main objective would be to establish a home for people who sleep on the street, which might be in the next few years.'' They are planning to have a home, which can house around 100 people.

Aron would not have taken up this issue, if proper and equal treatment were meted out to them, and questions everyone – are we really civilised? He said, ''The world boasts itself of being civilised, comprising of conscious citizens. But are we civilised? We talk about greener environment, saving different endangered species, but we do not care about people living next door, who are poor and are dying of hunger and cold. Now, where has our conscious gone?''

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