In a country of over a billion, more than 20% of the population lives below the poverty line. The smallest state in the country, Goa, has the third lowest percentage of people living below the poverty line. While there is any number of NGOs struggling to help the poor, one stands out more than others at this time. Street Providence in Saligao, North Goa is making creating a name for itself for all the right reasons. In a year, it seems to have done more for the underprivileged compared to others.
Donald Fernandes, the man behind Street Providence
It’s not easy taking up a cause like this one yet Donald Fernandes is doing his best to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. An unassuming, God-fearing man, he introduces himself as a simple salesman – a salesman who allowed Divine Providence to touch his heart and inspire him. And in just a few months, the NGO has become one of the most prolific in aiding the homeless and hungry in Goa. It’s a blessing for those suffering and has alleviated their pain in a number of ways.
Donald has an interesting achievement under his belt. He is in the Limca Book of Records, with a World Record for cycling for 40 kilometers while playing the violin in 1996. He attempted another world record for playing the guitar and harmonica while riding a motorbike. But this did not see fruition due to other things going on in his life at the time. Donald is also a hardworking man, one who cannot sit by and watch others suffer.
The journey to Street Providence
Like a lot of people, Donald struggled at finding that elusive thing that would make him truly happy in life. It took almost 5 years and 3 job changes to create the shining light that became Street Providence.
In 2013, after he and his wife were blessed with a little girl, they began cooking out of their own kitchen for a group of 50 poor people in their vicinity. All out of gratitude to God for the gift they had received. They would awaken at 6.30 am and cook the food. It would then be taken at about 8 or 8.30 am to the poor, allowing Donald and his wife to get back to their own work.
His good work continued to grow. He bought an ambulance in 2015 and used it to ferry the poor who could not afford transport to hospitals. The year after that he installed a tap in his own compound in Sangolda, which offered filtered water freely to the underprivileged to quench their thirst. And while he continued to provide food to the poor, it was still not enough to satisfy him.
Hardworking people at Street Providence
2017 was an important year for Street Providence. It’s the year Donald started the food bank to complement the work he was already doing. This included the installation of a fridge. They used social media to get people to donate leftover food, packed in food grade plastic. Donald says, “It took six months to stabilize, to move the idea forward, to explain the concept to people.”
Since then the NGO has grown by leaps and bounds. Not only does Street Providence provide food but they even try to rehabilitate the poor people they see in the vicinity. From June 2017, they even began collecting homeless men they saw on the street, gave them a shave, a haircut, a bath, warm food and rudimentary medical treatment. After all this, these men would be dropped back to wherever they had been picked up.
Today, Street Providence has a large number of trustees and volunteers, each doing their bit to make a tiny part of the world a better place. The NGO is now a registered charitable trust that continues to make a difference in the lives of so many of the less fortunate. And you too can be a part of the good work.
Be inspired to do your bit
There are a number of projects with which you can assist with or donate supplies to (the virtual blood bank, medicine bank, clothes bank and so on). There is also a scheme bank that has volunteers aiding the poor and illiterate to work their way through the legal jargon to avail of various government schemes. The awesome people at Street Providence can be contacted on WhatsApp (8380097564) or you can just be inspired by their hardwork and do the same by checking out their Facebook page with the same name.
Read more about all the NGO has done and continues to do, at Prutha.com.
Information credit – Prutha.com