Perhaps you’ve heard of crowdfunding — GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo — they are all platforms where people can put up a personal cause or project for public assistance. The concept behind crowdfunding is to allow donors to choose a cause that speaks to them—something they believe in that will directly receive their money. People have used crowdfunding for thousands of reasons: medical bills, rebuilding life after a fire, or to fund a specific project. In the 21st century, word of mouth (or the click of a link) is a powerful way to spread your cause to millions of people in a short amount of time.
And one senior in India is using it to make a huge difference for her peers.
The woman in question is Saroja Banappa. At 86, Saroja is no stranger to raising funds for worthy causes. She has led dozens of platforms over the past twenty-five years, setting her sights on real problems that need real solutions. Back in 1995, Saroja set up the Sri Shankari Balaga, with just over a dozen female volunteers, as a source of help for women and children living in distress. From there she branched out, creating another foundation in nearby Malleshwaram specifically to assist seniors between the ages of 60-91.
“Many people, particularly women, were searching for a home. They had either been abandoned by their families or had nobody else to turn to,” Saroja says.
This need for housing has grown, and so has her project. She is now working with a plot of land that would provide more than two dozen dormitories, with room enough to separate the facility into a living space for men and women. Right now, the project has teeth, but no legs, due to the cost of construction.
That’s where crowdfunding comes in. Using a platform called Milaap, Saroja is collecting the necessary funds from the public, and her efforts are gaining big attention. The story on her page comes with heartwarming testimonials from people who have already benefitted from Saroja’s hard work and kindness.
Taking care of elderly in the twilight of their lives is one of the toughest problems confronting Indian society. While we all know this fact, it shook me when my own grandmother needed external care. But thanks to Smt. Saroja Banappa, who welcomed my grandmother with open arms.
And the focus of her mission isn’t just on housing. She’s also dedicated to providing a community, whose members will have emotional and physical support in battling things like loneliness, fear, and prior neglect. By giving them a space not only to live, but to heal, the real winners will be the residents of Saroja’s new facility. With one such building already in place, and the promise of a much larger, more diverse structure, she has already managed to raise almost three quarters of the money necessary to reach their goal, with almost a month left to go. It’s safe to say that construction will begin on the newest property under Saroja’s leadership and will likely be one of many to further her good works in years to come!