This Hyderabad-based 'Good Samaritan' rescues and shelters homeless people through his non-profit
While many of us have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, especially during the second wave, the lockdown and night curfews have been particularly hard on the homeless population, whose already strained access to food, water, and healthcare has become even worse.
This is where AI George Rakesh Babu stepped in to help those in need. But his humanitarian journey started a few years ago.
George would often donate to a Tamilian priest named Ganesh Prabhu, who, despite facing numerous challenges and receiving no support from family or relatives, had been taking care of over 60 orphaned children.
George Rakesh Babu
He was inspired by Ganesh to the extent that he left his regular job to take the priest to the hospital when he fell ill, and care for him. However, upon returning, the priest was not allowed back into the orphanage and was locked out, homeless.
In the meantime, George had managed to shift most of the children to other care homes, but he came to know of Ganesh’s death after he was rendered homeless.
“This came as a shock to me. What was worse was that we even struggled to give him a dignified burial despite his kindness in his lifetime,” George tells SocialStory.
Seeing Ganesh’s circumstances, George wanted to ensure that the same never happens to anyone else, and so, he unofficially started the Good Samaritans Trust in 2008, by opening a free clinic in Hyderabad which provides basic healthcare. He, along with his wife, Sunita George, a special educator, and another trustee, Yesukala, officially founded the Trust in 2011. The clinic turned into a ‘welfare centre’ and is now a full-fledged home for the destitute.
The Trust aims to rescue the destitute and the homeless, and provide them with lifetime healthcare, or help them re-unite with their families, if they can be traced.
Good Samaritans Trust
The Good Samaritans Trust rescues the homeless, who are then cared for based on their needs and illnesses, if any. Then, the team looks at the circumstances that led to their homelessness, and goes on a search to find any members of their family, based on their recollection, if any.
The team also caters to unattended patients in hospitals. These patients come from different states and may not have any family members in their state of residence. George says that most often, they are admitted into government hospitals.
“Since they have no relatives here, our team ensures that we provide them with meals and the necessary post-treatment care that they need,” says George.
“We inform their family of their current health, and one of our social workers drops them back to their hometown,” he adds.
George and his team of rescuers
During any natural calamity or disaster, George and his team ensure that they help out in whichever way possible.
During the lockdown, George says that they raised money for groceries and other essentials like N95 masks, clothes, and other things, and distributed them to the migrant workers and other underprivileged people across Hyderabad, and some places in Odisha.
“Now, with the increasing number of cases, we are raising funds for oxygen concentrators and cylinders, and providing them to those who are unable to afford them,” says George.
One of the recipients was an autorickshaw driver in Hyderabad, who was unable to acquire a hospital bed. So, the Trust helped him with an oxygen concentrator and medication, as well as counselled him about how he can manage the disease with ease at home.
Even after the reverse migration of migrant workers during the lockdown, George shares that some of them spent days together, hoping to get a confirmation in a train that can take them home and ended up spending all their money. So, the Trust provides them with free meals and educates them about how the virus can spread.
As of today, there are about 150 people under the care of the three Good Samaritans Trust homes in Hyderabad, Warangal, and Aler. In the last two months, they helped about 75 people re-unite with their families. So far, they have rescued over 300 people, with the vast majority of them rescued last year as no other organisations were providing shelter to the homeless in fear of the pandemic.
“I didn’t have place to take care of all these people last year, as my homes could accommodate a limited number of people. But seeing my efforts, the government helped me acquire a building where I could care for all these people,” says Rakesh.
Among those who recover from their illness in the homes, some of them even stay back and help the non-profit.
Talking about the funding, Rakesh says that they don’t have any regular tie-ups with any corporate.
“But in recent times, one company made a donation for the distribution of N95 masks. Another company is helping us buy oxygen concentrators in the second wave,” shares George, adding that most of the funds comes from donations and from his own pocket by working as a para-legal volunteer.
Ambulance services are provided to those in need during the pandemic.
While volunteering, he explains his cause to many people, some of whom also make donations. Some of his social worker friends also provide him with in-kind donations as well for his COVID-19 pursuits.
While many people are inspired by George’s work and efforts, he says that this also poses another challenge as many of them do not know the legalities behind rescuing a homeless person. But he is trying to help them understand how they make the effort legally, and whom they can contact to seek help.
“I have trained several people, many of whom have started their own organisations. But a lot of them are inquisitive to know how I manage to get the donations. To them, I only have one answer: work for a good cause, and any kind of support will come to you automatically,” says George.