'Make a sacrifice for others’ happiness; God will surely reward you..'. Such remarks are read in the stories of Saints and Sufis. However, some people around us are silently walking this talk. Javed Shaikh, a young man from Pune, Maharashtra, is one of them.
Javed's work has changed the lives of many people and inspired others to be changemakers.
Pune is a bustling city that shines in the night under the impact of electricity. However, some bastis in this city continue to remain enveloped in the darkness and inconspicuous. Those living in the brightness of electricity often tend to overlook the dark houses and huts.
While most tend to ignore these dark spots, Javed Shaikh was drawn to them.
Javed lives in the Yerwada area of Pune. In his locality when he spotted human dwellings without electricity, he knocked at the doors and inquired why the inmates lived in darkness. Their reply invariably was: “We have no money to get an electricity connection; the connection has been removed due to non-payment of bill."
Javed Shaikh gifting a solar panel to a beneficiery
It made him sad; the helplessness of poor people was overwhelming. He decided to use his knowledge to help them. He thought of using solar energy to get these people rid of the cycle of paying electricity bills.
Growing up in Pune, the 34-year-old Javed had grown up with frequent power disruptions due to shedding by electricity suppliers. He graduated from the Sinhagad College of Engineering, Pune.
Philanthropy was always part of his family's culture and therefore he too was keen to contribute to making a difference in society.
As against the tendency to seek a job after completing studies and setting down, Javed started his business like his uncle Sadiq Sheikh whom he always admired.
Javed lives with his mother, wife, and elder sister. Like Javed, his sister Wazia also wanted to do social service. Therefore, both the siblings set up the 'Yusuf Foundation' in memory of their father. The Foundation was set up in 2020 during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the idea that the Foundation must start with fulfilling the basic needs of the people, he paid attention to the missing electricity in the lives of the poor.
He started researching low-cost options for providing electricity and zeroed in on solar energy. He thought that if solar panels were installed at the roof of each house, the poor could get electricity and also rid of the recurring bills.
Javed started from his neighborhood. To begin with, he chose families where either the male head was missing or non-working due to unemployment or disability.
Initially, the foundation installed solar panels on the houses of 10 families.
The solar panels were selected to provide continuous power for eight hours on a single charge. The inmates of the houses could use electric bulbs, run fans, and also charge their mobiles with it.
Javed Shaikh and his sister serving people
When the first solar panel lit a bulb in front of a big crowd, people instantly called Javed “Allah ka banda: (Allah’s man). However, his help is not for people of a specific religion. Poverty is the sole criterion for the foundation to provide solar panels to the people.
Yusuf Foundation took another initiative to fill the potholes on the main roads, which are dangerous and have resulted in many accidents.The problem of potholes becomes even more deadly during the rainy season. The Yusuf Foundation filled potholes on many busy roads of Pune with the help of modern technology 'cold mix'. This saved many lives. His initiative was greatly appreciated.
On the plans of the Yusuf Foundation, Javed told Awaz-the Voice that he would like to work on the environment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yusuf Foundation distributed essential items like facial masks, food, and water in large quantities to the needy. It also organised a competition for orphans in the Azam Campus College in collaboration with the Center of Arts, Pune.
Javed is responsible for raising funds for such programs.
Javed keeps a part of his income from business aside from social work. The families believe in giving back to society and thanking the Almighty by helping others.