Mangalore, May 25, 2013: People living in cities are, as a rule, largely suspicious of the world and everybody in it. We employ an anonymity in our dealings with the world, have little wish to associate with our neighbours, look at beggar on the street and quickly assume it’s a seam. We may be right, but the principle of helping out a fellow human being is lost too. That’s what Raghuram Kote did as he described his life growing up in a small village in Karnataka, where community living was the only way of doing things. Kote, who now runs NGO that raises funds for people from low income groups who need medical care, describes his growing years, saying “I grew up in a community where people are known to help each other. Something happens to one person and everybody gets involved.” To a city person, this sounds quite painful, but one must admit, it has its advantage.
If you take a quick look at the Right To Live website with requests for artificial limbs that cost no more than Rs 7,000, which most people could pay without a second thought, it might make you think for a moment about how many people out there have so little. The other characteristic that caught one’s eye was just how transparent the whole procedure looked. As a rule, Right To Live gives 100 % of its funds to the patients, while normal procedure for most NGOs would be to claim a sizeable chunk for administrative causes. “Now people know where their donations are going.” Kote explained.
For Kote, who lived in his native village till he turned 15, finished an engineering degree and moved to the US as an IT professional. Right To Live became a conglomeration of all that he knew best. “It is one of my quotients,” he said.
Every time Kote returned to his village, this time as a successful entrepreneur, the villagers would flock to him-he had become their ticket to a better world. “Most of the time, it was asking for jobs.” All this got him thinking. It was two years ago, however, that they found their trigger. Kote, who was the founder of an IT organization employing about a thousand people, met a young boy with a kidney problem. ”We sent out a request to all our employees and because this was genuine, about 600 people contributed almost immediately, we collected Rs 3 lakh in a week,” he recalls.
It got him thinking. His father had instilled in him a strong spirit of service. His IT skills gave him the perfect platform and transparency was the key. “ People are so very suspicious of each other. But deep down, we all want to play the good cop,” he said, laughing. That’s how the idea of Right To Live came into being. A poor person will go from home to home, maybe get three lines mentioned in the newspaper, this will do just, but more efficiently, he reasoned. “We don’t think twice spending Rs 200 on popcorn in a movie theatre, I say buy someone else some popcorn too. If a thousand people do that, it amounts to quite a sum.”
Collaboration between NGOs also came to play a vital role. When Shilpa was sent to Right To Live from the Sumanahalli Foundation, she needed money for artificial limbs. All that she needed was about Rs 20,000, which is far from being an impossible sum. “ We started collecting very quickly and raised money, but in the meantime came across an NGO giving out free limbs,” said Kote. The sum she needed had been raised through donations, however, so Right To Live bought her a three-wheel scooter instead, to make her fully mobile. This sort of collaboration and also references that come from hospitals mean the rigorous background check is taken care of.
During summer, when business in hospital is lean, they seek hospitals who are willing to do work at nominal rates. Donations go entirely to the patients, while administrative costs are taken care of by Kote and his partners.
“Crowd donation,” Kote calls it. The mechanism is simple and transparent and proves, at the end of the day, that people are more willing than we think, to lend a helping hand.n
By Darshana Ramdev | Deccan Chronicle