Vikash Das’s shelter for the tribal’s – Vat Vrikshya!!

Vikash-Das’s-shelter-for-the-tribal’s---Vat-Vrikshya

Vikash Das a bangalore based System Engineer created Vat Vrikshya that helps the Odisha tribe with occupations without negotiating with their culture and traditions. So far he has managed to help around 300 families in the tribal region.
Vat Vrikshya is a Sanskrit word for the Banyan Tree – the national tree of India and it is believed to be one of the sacrosanct trees herein India. Banyan Tree is also known to give shelter to all small and big living organisms. That’s why Vikash named his NGO Vat Vrikshya – literally meaning – shelter to all the tribes of India.

Currently Vat Vrikshya is working with the tribal women who have been abandoned, found in remote tribal small villages, forced to head the family financially, to join hands with the conventional women of the society. Vat Vrikshya’s thought process is to empower the women because they are the only resource of revolution.

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Vikash Das has a Master degree from the Manipal University in Software Design & Engineering along with a Bachelors degree in Information Science and Engineering. He is also actively involved in blogging and runs a blog called “India speaks now” with few others.

What exactly is the role of Vat Vrikshya?

They offer sustainable employment opening in various ways, analyze and fight for the tribal rights, inculcate an optimistic attitude and self-belief in them, provide training on skill development, assist women to take proper care of their health both sexual and reproductive, help marketing the tribal products, conserve tribal traditions and inheritance, provide loan facilities to them, explore, support & associate with tribal related issues. Although they don’t have a brick and motor set up, they continue to have meetings under the Banyan Tree!!

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Approach:

Vat Vrikshya has a four rule approach to develop the tribes –
Investigate their needs and Evaluate – using a SWOT analysis, they start working for the tribes by scrutinizing their transitions, customs, needs, likes, dislikes, skills, issues etc. Based on this, they come up with their first project. This project is then tested, arranged and standardized before going big bang with it.

Create networks & partners – tribal women are then associated with known women entrepreneurs from other tribal villages. Doing this, it’s possible to connect a stronger bond within tribal villages, towns and markets. Vat Vrikshya provides a donation of 2000 to each woman and get them connected with women organization and/or NGO’s so as to help them initiate their trade. It doesn’t end here, the team at Vat Vrikshya continues to mentor and observe them till they are properly established.
Educate & market – besides providing them with financial aid, they also bestow skill development training to these tribal women that includes promoting products/ business, branding and packaging etc.

Precision and contribution: – each and every tribal woman is compulsorily made a part of the Vat Vrikshya so as to sustain their faith and lucidity. They are made to schedule the training programs, keep a record of the funds that are available. Vat Vrikshya also targets on dealing with profits which are again used for the betterment of the tribal’s.
How did it all start?

It all starts from Vikash’s childhood memoirs. He was never permitted to play with the tribal kids let alone touch them. Then one day while he was enjoying his summer break in his hometown, he saw a tribal woman with her grandson outside a temple begging for food. She was abused and asked not to enter the temple. This made a great impact on Vikash and he kept on wondering why were the tribal’s treated so badly.

However he continued with life, completed his education, worked with HCL followed by IBM. He was absolutely content with his life and his accomplishments but somewhere at the back of his mind was the plight of tribal kept hovering his mind. These thoughts made him think what’s the real meaning of life, what is the reason of his living. There was fire in his heart to do something for the society rather than just sitting in an AC cabin, working for a MNC.

And that’s when he thought that he will do something for the tribal’s. He quit his job and started living like a poor man for around two months in a tribal village. This is how he understood what were their qualms, their culture, unemployment, health, hygiene, deserted from the real world, no government support, no loans, nothing.

This trial also allowed him to comprehend what hunger is and how heart-breaking is their lives are. It made him come to conclusion that material possession is never a big thing. Be thankful to god for what we have.

He wanted to create the change- And that’s how Vat Vikrhsyta was born, he was just 25 years of age then.
It wasn’t an easy task- it’s always been a case when someone goes out of the way to change the world, family and friends are never supportive. But later they started supporting after understanding his though process. But his actual fight was to achieve the confidence and trust of the tribal’s. It did take him a very longtime to earn their trust but now is a different story. The tribes are completely dependent upon on him and pursue his dream.

So what’s next for Vat Vrikshya?

Vat Vrikshya has been successful in inculcating a sense of confidence and moral boost within the tribal women. They do not even take any donations from people that make them stand out and genuine. These women have managed to double their profits which indirectly increased their standard of living due to the additional income. Additionally, it has given them the freedom of been by themselves without been dependent on the loan-givers.

Vat Vrikhsya’s key highlight was to cut the agents in the artisans business thereby getting the right value for their products. Moreover with the opportunities at home, these tribal’s do not have to migrate in search of jobs. Furthermore, Vat Vrikshya has given these tribal’s to look beyond income from agriculture resulting in fewer cases on famines and hunger.

With money in their hands and employment generating skills, tribal women are slowly and steadily raising to the occasion of voicing out their concerns with respect to social and reproductive rights. Vat Vrikshya is about to launch a research lab for the tribal’s with the state Government which will also get more students to work in this area. Future looks bright for Vat Vrikshya they are looking at expansion and collaborating with corporate. They will also look at safeguarding the tribal customs as they are getting extinct.


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