In a democratic nation, it is not just up to the leaders to up hold the tenets of democracy and equality. As fellow human beings, we must take it upon ourselves to do what we can, to help who we can. This was the thought that stuck firmly in Shanker Adawal’s mind one fine day in 2002. He was faced with a situation where those who were dispossessed, were not even aware of their basic rights as human beings. In all his years, he had never seen a situation that made him fully aware of the stark difference been the haves and have nots.
Thus started Manvadhikar Samajik Manch (MASM), a non-profit geared specifically to help the marginalized sections of society receive access to various basic amenities, including legal aid, medical camps, vocational training, rehabilitation & resettlement and rural entrepreneurship programmes. At MASM, people have access to information and prevention of diseases, with a special cell specifically looking out for women’s health needs. “Women tend to prioritise other things above their own health. We are here to help them understand that looking after themselves is the most important thing they should be focusing on.” Shanker Adawal also stressed on the need for a safe space for women, where they can come together and unburden themselves from all that is weighing them down. This happens in the form of counselling sessions, the Awaj Uthao campaign for women’s safety, weekly health check-ups, and opportunities to socialise and connect through nukkad nataks.
Apart from vocational training, MASM also understands that there are those with business acumen who would like to start an initiative of their own. Hence, the rural entrepreurship programme was introduced in 2004 in Dallupura Village, Gazipur Village, Nandnagri and Gokulpuri village of East Delhi for the purpose of understanding business strategy and distribution for candle making. A total of 30 youths were able to successfully start up their own venture. Through all these, MASM was able to highlight the disadvantaged and how they have been able to persevere through it all and stand up on their own two feet. Human Touch, a magazine created by MASM aims to do exactly this. Till date, 178 issues have been published, and a countless number of people’s achievements have been highlighted.