This Dhanbad-based NGO aims to uplift the coal miners and tribal communities

Nand Care Foundation — founded by Deepak Kumar — works towards the betterment of coal miners and tribal communities in and around Dhanbad. In fact, the not-for-profit also provides education to the coal mine worker’s children.

Two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it changed our lives forever. Especially for people at the base of the economic pyramid, the journey was harsh.  

As the government declared a nationwide lockdown, several hundred coal miners found themselves out of work as the mines too shut down. These daily wages meant their families ate and slept better, and their children could attend schools for a low fee. 

However, the unprecedented nature of the situation forced many coal miner families to go without food for several days.

Since 2015, Nand Care Foundation — founded by Deepak Kumar (26) — is working for the betterment of coal miners and tribal communities in and around Dhanbad, Jharkhand. In fact, the not-for-profit also provides education to the coal mine worker’s children. 

The NGO had raised over Rs 3.86 crore, with the support of the Donatekart platform, to provide grocery kits to thousands of coal miners and tribals, which had a huge impact on the community. It also assisted several coal miners to survive the second wave.

“Thousands of families in and around Dhanbad rely on coal mining for a living. Even though it's dangerous, it's their only source of income. They lift heavy weights and scale great heights, and their wages are insufficient to feed themselves and their children. They were all sleeping on an empty stomach amidst the second wave,” says Deepak.

Plight of coal workers

Being in the coal-mining region, Dhanbad residents often complain of persistent coughs, headaches, and health conditions, including tuberculosis, asthma, and other respiratory diseases caused due to the nature of their job. 

They put their lives in danger every day in a job riddled with explosions, landslides, and collapsing mines. Despite all of their efforts, selling coal is a monumental task. 

Every day, families walk long distances to be able to sell some coal for a pittance. There is no reprieve for coal miners. Hunger, on the other hand, remains their greatest challenge. Their fight to get even a single meal per day was amplified during the second wave.

“They’re so helpless and hungry that they don’t even ask us for vegetables or dal anymore. All they say is give us some rice so we can make it the next day. Their plight is truly heartbreaking. We want to do everything we can to help them. But we can’t do it alone,” Deepak says.

Pandemic times

Along with his sister Divya Gupta and friend Shaniv Tiwari, Deepak first floated the Nand Care Foundation, which educated poor kids of illegal coal miners in the outskirts of Dhanbad.  Today, with the support of about 1,000 volunteers, the NGO caters to 98 panchayats in Dhanbad.

During the lockdown, when schools had closed, the NGO decided to visit neighbouring villages and help the tribal communities. “Since March 2020, during our meal distribution drive, we are seeing the pathetic condition of the tribals,” Deepak says. 

Seeing the serious livelihood issues of the villagers, it decided to raise funds and distribute food grains to the community. Nand Care relies on donations and funds from crowdsourcing platforms, such as Donatekart, and has received financial assistance from big companies. According to Deepak, about 80 percent of its donations come from Donatekart alone.

So far, Nand Care has distributed 10 lakh meals to the poor in and around Dhanbad. Amidst the pandemic, it distributed grocery kits among 10,000 families in the coal miners community and tribal community. 

Besides, the NGO distributed a one-time ration kit and cash to tide over the emergency.

He adds, “It is easy to blame the government for everything, but I think the government cannot reach everywhere. If we do our bit for society, I think no one will sleep hungry, and no kid will be deprived of milk.”

Edited by Suman Singh


Updates from around the world