“Never doubt that a group of ordinary people can bring about change. Infact, that’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead’s famous words are more than apt for the MP-based PJSVS. Born out of the goodwill of 9 friends, who wanted to give back to society, their good acts have become a full-fledged formal NGO today.
It all started back in 2000, when 9 school-friends had moved on to different colleges in Indore. Conscious of the fact they were fortunate to get good educations, the topic of giving back to society formed a common discussion when they met up. So to put some action behind their words, they started celebrating birthdays, anniversaries etc. differently – by taking slum children to the zoo or by spending quality time with them or by distributing blankets to street dwellers in the cold months etc. Mr. Praveen Gokhale, who is one of the active founding members of Pahal today recalls, “We used to meet at the Khajrana temple every Wednesday. Without fail, the conversation somehow veered to helping the poor. We were all of the opinion that we needed to ‘initiate something’ in that direction…so when the time came to give a formal name to our good deeds, we thought of ‘Pahal, which means ‘initiation.’ ” Pahal Jan Sahyog Vikas Sansthan thus stands for “An initiative to help people in need.”
When the 9 friends entered the working world, it became more and more difficult to dedicate time to Pahal. So they hired a resource to carry out administrative duties, with all of them pitching in a few hours a week as well as money, as required. But this did not work out. As Mr. Gokhale says, “an outsider had no heart for the cause.” This made them realise that one of them needed to step in full time to keep the activities which they had started going; else abandon the same. At that time, Mr. Gokhale, an Electrical Engineer, was working with the Railways. While he stepped up to manage administrative affairs, another friend, Sandhya, stepped in to manage fundraising.
It’s been three years since Mr. Gokhale has taken over the reigns of Pahal. During this period the organisation has grown. To keep the home fires burning, Mr. Gokhale conducts trainings on social issues for NGOs, on a consultancy basis. He has also consulted Indore’s Electricity Board in the past. This allows him to dedicate 1 week in the month full time to Pahal.
From random acts of kindness, the organisation today works in the areas of education, the disabled and the environment.