Piyush Goswami, 30, and Akshatha Shetty, 28, had a comfortable job in their respective fields. But two years ago, they quit their job and sold all they owned to travel across rural India. They wanted to document problems faced by the rural people and contribute in changing their lives. But, they realised it was not enough. With the experience they gathered, they have started a project called ‘Rest of My Family
‘ three months ago to address poverty or lack of electricity or simply inadequate communication between providers like NGOs or government bodies and the needy. Goswami, a freelance photographer, says:
“It’s an attempt to connect, and give others a chance to connect, with our extended human family around the country.”
Their goal was to raise (about Rs 19.40 lakh). The project has already raised Rs.20.40 lakh and will accept donations for another week.
For the next one year, the duo will drive across the country visiting areas they have identified for their projects.
Towards the end, they will partner with NGOs or individuals to focus on the areas of healthcare, sanitation, education, nutrition, child labour, and female infanticide. Sharing a story from their journey, Shetty narrates one, about a boy from Bodinayakanur, Tamil Nadu
. She says:
“We met 14-year-old Mari who worked at a garage and earned about R 100 a day. His mother works in the cardamom fields while his grandmother works in construction. All the men in their family have abandoned them. He left school early to lend his mother a helping hand. Mari is not interested in going to school but has a deep interest in automobiles. Hence, we are talking to automobile companies/state-of-the-art workshops that can absorb him and provide him an opportunity to shine.”
So, what are the challenges they face? The duo mostly makes money from freelance writing and photography assignments. Shetty said that they are living from pay cheque to pay cheque.
“We are certain that as long as our journey is honest and we stay true to our philosophy, we will be able to continue to do what we have been doing. We have come so far only through our dedication and sincerity. And, we will let that decide our future,” says Shetty.
Akshatha Shetty with three generations of a Kalbelia tribe in Pushkar.
They are, however, not alone on their journey. Contributions do pour in. Gautam Kulkarni, a Dubai-based businessman who contributed $5,000 (about Rs 3.25 lakh)
to the campaign, said,”I’ve always wanted to travel around rural India, so I decided to contribute – to make a difference and experience India through this unique project.”