Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Niswarth Story

Niswarth (Hindi word; meaning - unselfish) is the name of the organisation started in Bagracote Tea Garden, Jalpaiguri District, by the Manager Harsh Kumar and his wife, Neelam. The aim of the organisation is 'providing employment and a social standing to the underprivileged in our society.' The focus is on disabled people.

Neelam passed away a year ago, on the 29th of February. A little over two years before that, she had suffered a stroke. Life changed drastically for both Neelam and Harsh. They fought hard against the effects of the stroke, which affected her movements and her speech.

Neelam Kumar
Neelam was a cheerful and lively person, full of fun. All of us who knew her found it tough to reconcile to what had happened. Harsh and Neelam were a devoted couple, and their son and daughter, who live abroad, made frequent trips home, providing help and moral support. Her strong nature and the family's love helped; Neelam improved tremendously.

Harsh learnt and read everything he could about stroke related disabilities. At such a time, the couple's thoughts turned to those who didn't have the means to help themselves. And that was how they started 'Niswarth', in 2007. In May 2007, members of Niswarth started a scheme providing employment to the disabled - the production of incense sticks.

Soon after Neelam passed away, in March 2008, Harsh donated Rs. 4 lakh to Niswarth. Duncans Industries allocated land and a building for the organisation in Bagracote Tea Garden.
Harsh Kumar
In July 2008, Niswarth held a Blood Donation and Disability camp. Identity cards were organised for hundreds of disabled people. At a camp in December 2008, hearing aids, wheelchairs, tricycles, crutches and disability cards were distributed to 176 beneficiaries. In January 2009, an eye camp was organised in collaboration with the Lions Club of Siliguri.
Harsh started talking to his friends in other tea gardens about hosting such camps.

In February, Anandapur T.E*., Kumlai T.E. , Leesh River T.E. and Nowera Nuddy T.E. in Dam Dim Subdistrict, and Moraghat T.E. in Binnaguri Subdistrict organised eye camps.
Early on the morning of the 16th February, a team of doctors, nurses and technicians, headed by Dr. Agarwal of Siliguri, set up camp in the garden hospital in Moraghat. Over 250 people got free eye check ups. Forty were diagnosed as cases for cataract surgery, and were taken to Siliguri the same evening by the team's Lions Club bus. Their stay, surgery, and treatment was all taken care of at the Lions Club Hospital.
'Thank you' from Moraghat Tea Estate to Dr. Agarwal and team

The patients returned to the garden after two days. An optician came in from Birpara town to collect prescriptions and take measurements for spectacles, which were made available at discounted prices. Two children, deaf and mute since birth, were taken to visit the Niswarth centre at Bagracote the next day. They could be sponsored to attend a special school in Gangtok, if their parents wish to send them.

Next up on Niswarth's calendar is a Disability camp at Birpara Tea Garden on 1 March, 2009, for the gardens in Dalgaon Subdistrict. Niswarth will also sponsor deaf and mute children between the ages of 5 and 12 at special schools from March onwards.

Niswarth is a registered charity. If you wish to make a donation, or help in any way, please visit

*T.E. - Tea Estate


Marilyn Miller said...

What a wonderful thing to do on a tea estate.

Anil P said...

An inspiring initiative.

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

wow, so wonderful!! Agreed with anil, it such an inspiring initiative!! All the very best for them, for assisting people who need help! :-) Best wishes from me, and ill go through the website.

Kamini said...

What a wonderful and inspiring tale, born of sorrow. Thanks for sharing this.