by- Suvidha Bhatnagar
“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”- J.R.R. Tolkien
Wildlife SOS has been diligently working for years in order to control poaching and illegal trade in India by reforming tribals that depend on wildlife for food, or as a source of income and livelihoods and by educating there children and empowering womenfolk as second income earners. Wildlife SOS encouraged the Kalandar community to voluntarily and peacefully surrender their bears with an aim to effectively support community development to help bring disadvantaged tribal communities to the mainstream.
One such example is the story of Zahir Khan Kalandar, a middle aged man from Naya Basera, Kalandar Basti, Bhopal. Wildlife SOS has been helping Zahir and his family since last six years . He has been working as a daily wage labourer and did not have a stable source of income until Wildlife SOS in the year 2008 helped him with a permanent solution. Wildlife SOS helped Zahir Khan Kalandar put in place a portable shop worth Rs. 5,000 to sell plastic items on his bicycle. His father is suffering from Asthma and after recieving livelihood support from Wildlife SOS, he was able to take care of his family. Zahir Khan has three children and they are being provided education as Wildlife SOS is paying not just the fees but also for the stationary, books and uniform.
Till 2012, Zahir Khan improvised on his plastic selling shop and started earning better until he was diagnosed with mouth cancer last year. He has undergone multiple chemotherapy sessions and has been getting worse over the course of time. He has been drinking only soya water since the last one year and has lost the will to live. The family’s condition is pitiable as there is no earning member in the family and they are dependent on the one-time meal provided by the neighbors sometimes. Zahir Khan’s wife is illiterate and is unable to contribute financially to the family.
Ms. Rakhee Sharma, our Kalandar Community Rehabilitation Coordinator has very skillfully dealt with this issue by offering a livelihood package to Zahir Khan’s family that doesn’t require any kind of physical labor. She tried to research within the local community where the Kalanadar family resides and came up with an idea of setting up a cycle shop for Zahir. Wildlife SOS has provided seven cycles worth Rs 7,300 to Zahir Khan Kalandar. These cycles are given for rent to the neighborhood children and has turned out to be a source of permanent income for Zahir Khan’s family. Zahir Khan, being very ill and unsure of his life, is now content to see a secure life for his family even in his absence in the future as this is something even his wife and father can do.