Mr. Barua, the founder of Bavada Devi Memorial Philanthropic Trust (SENEH), used to be part of the Airforce. Bavada Devi was his mother and ‘SENEH’ translates to mother’s love in Assamese. His work took him to many places and he had seen the whole of India by the early 90s. In 1999, he took voluntary retirement and started a business of his own in Delhi. However, he always felt that he owed something to society.
In the year 2004, Assam (especially the rural areas) were badly affected by floods. He immediately flew to Assam with the intention of carrying out relief work for these people. In one of the interior parts of Assam, he saw a shack which was barely supported by two sticks. However, he could see some life there. He immediately approached that shack and to his surprise he saw an old lady sitting near the bed of her son who was crippled. “I can’t forget the look on that old lady’s face. Her pale face was completely blank. Her son was a daily wage worker and he fell from a tree while working and broke his spine. They didn’t have money to pay for further treatment, so that’s how he got crippled for life. I gave her some food and moved onto a different village. We could find hundreds of people like this. I realized that I should start working here. With a few of my relatives, I started a trust and got the organization registered. I bought a plot and built a home,” adds Barua.
He further talked about how difficult it was for him to bring in likeminded people as they never thought this was good work. He used to go to the streets himself in search of homeless people if any. He had good contacts which helped him get access to medicines when required. Slowly, he began to expand and reach out to people from other villages, and other people started helping as well.
Located on a foot hill with high stone mountains (some of the stones are as huge as a three-bedroom flat! They stand on each other clinging and balancing as if they are all sisters.) in front with a lot of green trees, SENEH is definitely a paradise for these women who were once homeless.
As I went in, I was greeted by few women who were aged above 70. I could hear the laughter of women sitting in the verandah and chatting. They looked absolutely normal but looks can be deceptive. They had been through traumatic events once upon a time.
“We didn’t have funds initially. I used whatever money I had saved to run the organization. Soon, expenses began increasing which is when I approached funding agencies. Their donations helped me reach out to more people and provide better facilities.”
Barua also wants to start another centre in Jorhat where he was born. He also wants to adopt a village and help them in their development. Apart from SENEH, he also helps schools by providing computers, school supplies, etc.