Jai Sharma, founder of the youth-driven organisation, Just Open Yourself (JOY), is fostering 100 children who have lost their parents due to Covid 19. The youth social activist is currently working with 34 children and aims to take care of them till they become self-reliant.
Jai Sharma of Dehradun was a student of mechanical engineering when he found his calling in working for society and decided to pursue Bachelors in Social Work (B.S.W). He worked with various non-governmental organisations and was a part of different campaigns, including a relief initiative after the Kedarnath tragedy. This stint at relief work inspired him to take up social service and establish his organisation, Just Open Yourself (JOY), at the age of 21.
Jai, along with his team of youth-driven social activists, has been working tirelessly during the Covid 19 pandemic. He was involved in supplying oxygen cylinders to the needy and distributing ration to those who lost their livelihood. Soon, Jai started receiving calls from various parts of the city about children who had lost their parents due to the virus and could not afford their education which inspired him to take up their cause.
While he was still trying to figure out finances, Jai decided to start fostering three children for the time being and support their education, ration, and other logistics. The immense support and financial backing from friends and family helped him extend his support to 34 children. He plans to take care of 100 such children in future.
Jai and his fellow teammates have also extended their helping hands to children who did not lose their parents during the pandemic but did not have enough resources to continue their education or even afford three meals a day. Good networking and supportive media helped them to get in touch with families who required their assistance. The team prepares questionnaires, conducts interviews, and physically visits families to verify cases that require assistance. This is followed by Jai sponsoring education, ration, facilities, stationery, books, newspapers, etc, for the children. Recently, the youth activist has also paired up with a company in the United States of America, to avail 100 electronic tablets for children to access online education.
When asked about the state of mind of these unfortunate children, Jai explains, “Most of the children are not open to talking after the tragic loss of their parents. Hence I usually approach their guardians or relatives.” He also talks about the frequent breakdowns many children have when they think about their circumstances and how difficult it can be to comfort them. He also talks about the pressure that rests upon these children to provide for their families financially.
Initially, when Jai rolled out the scheme to fund school fees for children whose families could not afford to do so due to a financial crunch, he came across many cases of deceit and trickery as well. Today his major challenge is arranging funds for these children as not many people have come forward to help him and his team financially. He has decided to spread the word through different public-funding platforms such as Ketto in the hope of overcoming this challenge.
JOY has been actively working with the Uttarakhand government in reaching out to children who have lost their parents in the pandemic. Jai and his team have also agreed to share the 100 tablets he will receive from the company with the Government to help unfortunate children listed in the Government’s database. His team will also share stationery kits, books, etc, with the government and help extend his support to various needy children. Jai’s message to the youth is to channelise their energy into something positive for society and the environment. He encourages youngsters to devote at least a day or a few hours a week to societal service in any field they like. “An empowered youth can surely create a better tomorrow,” says Jai.