Abhay Deol recently came across Butterflies, an NGO that works with street children, on the net. And was intrigued by their concept of a Children’s Khazana that urged these kids to bank their earnings in a safe place.
“The manager of the bank is a 12-year-old Delhi girl from among them who urges her friends to save up and invest for the future,” says the actor-cum-social activist who did an event with them in Delhi, is planning one in Mumbai and using Facebook to spread awareness about the group’s initiatives that includes a mobile school that drives to the kids.
Abhay’s also working with an international media and human rights NGO, Video Volunteers, which trains farmers, housewives and daily wage labourers and the like to shoot and edit a video on any issue affecting their lives.
At the end of the month, during a one-day festival, these films are screened to build public opinion. “Some of them have also been shown to local authorities to get a policy chance or permission for a much-needed road,” he points out. “My favourite video is the one made by a woman working in the fields who successfully campaigning to get wages equal to men for her female co-workers. It’s all about empowering people.”
Abhay points out that even though many of these people are from small town amd don’t have fancy degrees, they have the requisite training, are well-spoken and feisty. “Some day, I’d like to see them as local reporters on TV,” he says.
Meanwhile, he continues to campaign for compost bins as his contribution to Al Gore’s Climate Project. “They cost a family of four just R 1,500, with an additional R 50- R 100 a month on maintenance. They’re dirt cheap and at the end of the day, the trash is turned into black fertilizer. So far, I’ve only gifted them to family and my actor friend Imran Khan. But maybe I’ll buy 30 more and distribute at my next premiere,” he smiles.
Abhay’s also enlisted with Wildlife SOS, an animal rescue organisation, but admits he’s not done anything for it yet. He says, “Imran has rescued some strays and wants to start a shelter. If he does, I’ll send my animals to his place too.”