Whoever meets the boy surely is filled with a sense of purpose. This instantly brings a lot of joy

From Homeless to Employed

Shivoo: Why do you come to this house so often ?

Bhaskar took me to a boy and introduced me to him

Boy: hello uncle how are you?

Shivoo: Fine, how about you?

Boy: <Smiles> Super !

Despite him unable to sit, he made an effort to give me a smile !

Bhaskar: The boy you just met is Rakshit. He is 9yr old now. He was found in a dustbin in Mysore with a huge infected abscess on his back. Once the abscess was treated in RVM Foundation hospital at Bannerghata road Bangalore, the doctors realized that Rakshit needed multiple spine surgeries, as he was born with a rare deformity. Today he is waiting for his last surgery and then will be placed through legal adoption.

Whoever meets the boy surely is filled with a sense of purpose. This instantly brings a lot of joy. This itself, is the best gift I can get for coming here to this home. ….

In conversation with Bhaskar – Ex-army, Entrepreneur and philanthropist

How did you get started on your Philanthropy Journey?

I served with the army from the commando group. Most of my posting has been in the war zone. During my service, it was difficult for me to work on any philanthropic activity on my own, as I would have to report back and also be posted in some remote parts of India, where connectivity could be a challenge. Once I finished my service with the Army, I decided that I would like to start something on my own, which will help me give back to the society. I have set up a security services company called Supreme Care Services. We are an experienced service provider in the industry. We deal with corporate security guards, residential security guards, armed guards, industrial security guards, personal bodyguards, executive protection services, bouncer security services, escort security services. We ensure that our customers receive high quality and timely service. For the last 8 years I have also set-up a home which houses people who are battling depression. Currently I have given employment to over 1200 people as part of my security agency. We work closely and motivate the inmates in my home for the depressed, and at least 6 to 8 people from the home are now able to lead a normal life by working in our security services company.

What we also do for the government agencies is help them track people on the missing list. All my field officers are always on the move. We typically know all the people in the vicinity where my staff is posted. If we get a message from the police, that a certain person is missing, and is from eh area where I have my staff deployed, we see how we can get any additional information on the missing person. Currently this service of mine is offered across Karnataka.

Also apart from the agency and the home for the depressed, I am also part of the RVM foundation transit home. This home provides loving care and vital services to homeless, abandoned, abused, trafficked, physical and mentally challenged people across all ages. This home currently houses over 125 people across all age groups, male, female and children. The home, has a dedicated team of administrative staff, doctors, nurses and a physiotherapist. Vocational training like jewelry making, bead stringing to help residents start living a normal life. My agency works with this home in providing cleaning, security and maintenance service.

The home is extremely clean and very orderly. The residents of the home are also encouraged to keep the keep the surroundings clean. They help with cleaning the dishes after a meal, wash clothes and water the plants. The home also encourages their residents to follow the religion of their choice.

The home has a well-manicured garden. When one walks into the home, they can see how self-sufficient the home is. When we started working with the home, we realized that the home had a majority of old aged people and children. This meant, that the home needed large quantities of milk. I have helped solve those problem, by procuring 2 cows for the home. The milk obtained from the cows are used for consumption at the home. The home also has a small bio-gas unit. This serves as additional energy source. The whole home has solar panel on its roof. There by creating a sustainable home. All energy requirements are drawn from the solar power generated.

In addition, I supply over 100 loaves of bread every week for this home.

When one walks into the home, they can see how self-sufficient the home is.

I support a dozen men and secure jobs for them. I have realized, people were trapped in the system and wanted to change their lives

Please tell about the successes on this journey?

My personal mantra is never to be afraid to be a voice for change. After I retired from the armed forces, I too restless to stand on the sidelines, and I saw this opportunity by working with this homeless shelters and for people who were suffering from depression. When I worked with my support group, we all agreed that one of the main ingredients for someone to get back to self-sufficiency is to have a job. So I started a mandate on how I can get people back on their feet, lead a dignified and normal life.

My vision is to tap my friends from business and create a professional job opportunities that would serve all of these individual homes and place residents in careers. I support a dozen men and secure jobs for them. I have realized, people were trapped in the system and wanted to change their lives. With the right support would bootstrap their way to success.

The success of our initiatives today rests largely with the staff. They are smart, passionate, and open to changing their tactics. They have done amazing things when it comes to life transformation and have leveraged private philanthropy and social enterprise revenue. This revenue mix allows the staff to be agile and adjust the program to suit the needs of the people we serve and produce impressive results year after year. It has taken some time to evolve. The good thing is that now that we have a good system that can be replicated in other cities or by other organizations, maybe it won’t take others as much time to create true impact.

According to a 2011 World Health Organisation (WHO) report, one in seven people in India, or 15% of the population, is depressed. A 2012 WHO report said India accounted for the highest number of suicides in the world. Experts say mental health issues, like depression, are among the biggest triggers for suicide in India. “According to various estimates, 13-15% of the Indian population suffers from common mental health disorders, yet 90% of these people go untreated,” says Manoj Chandran, chief executive officer of White Swan Foundation, a not-for-profit that works on mental health awareness in a recent interview. People suffering from a CMD may continue to lead a normal though sub-optimal life. We have a doctor Arjun (name changed), who was mentally depressed and was admitted in the home I work with closely. He has been admitted there for the last 9 years. I realized, that one therapy to get these people to be a part of the system, is to treat them like normal people and encourage them to be involved in some job or occupation so that they feel they belong. Today Arjun leads a normal life. Works in one of the apartment complexes where I have provided security services a supervisor. Also for all the support staff if they want some medicines for a normal cold or fever, Arjun writes prescription. This itself if heartening when you see Arjun.

What are your future plans?

At the RVM Foundation Transit home we are looking to add another 100 beds. This will need some fund raising. We are looking to work with corporates and individuals who can contribute towards giving ‘dignity in leading a life’ to the homeless. This initiative will ensure safe, dignified, permanent and affordable housing, with wraparound supportive services that will guarantee that homeless don’t have to live a life of shame or pity.

Also every year I employ 3 people from the home which has residents who are mentally depressed. I look to increase this number to 5. We are also looking at creating programs which can advance public awareness, influence public policies, and catalyze services (in other areas) to ensure people with mental depression can be rehabilitated back into society.

What is your advice to someone who wants to join the cause?

All the initiatives I am part of, we are looking at volunteers who are willing to help us either by working with us, or financially supporting our initiatives or both. We are excited to share the lessons learned on this project with other foundations and philanthropists around the country. For further information please feel free to contact me at supremecareservice[at]gmail[dot]com or contact[at]yourphilanthropystory[dot]in