Ashvini Jojra, 59, a radical altruist from RS Pura sector along the international border with Pakistan, is set to retire from Jammu and Kashmir’s agriculture department. His story began with demonetisation, which seemed to bother him the least. “I had only Rs 1,500 at home,” he says, adding, “The pandemic was a reality check that revealed the vulnerable nature of human existence.” While the region doesn’t have any government educational institute for children with special needs, Jojra has been tirelessly working for them, besides serving the marginalised sections of society.
This matchmaker has arranged over 3,000 marriages of girls from impoverished families. “We have not received even a single complaint of domestic violence or a failed marriage,” he says, elaborating on how senior government functionaries are also roped in. “Their presence sends out a strong message that the girls are not destitute.” According to him, the marriage expenditure is arranged through contributions, and the requisite goods are often arranged on credit. He credits his parents for his social work besides his wife and daughters who have always stood by him.
Jojra says that the entire social work is going on under the canopy of Serving All Humanity Yearningly Over the Globe (Sehyog India), of which he is the founder-president. He has also been the president of Special Olympics Bharat J&K chapter since 2007.
He proudly states how a child, who would roam around in village lanes naked before joining Sehyog India, has made a mark in the special Olympics. “Our special athlete Paramjeet Singh has been selected for next year’s Special World Winter Games to be held in Kazan, Russia,” he informs. Ironically, the institute had to be closed and the rented building vacated during the pandemic, which had aggravated its financial problems. Now the staff of the institute pays visits to the students at their homes regularly.
Jojra, whose efforts have been duly acknowledged by the J&K government through a state award, wants to establish north India’s biggest rehabilitation centre for special children in RS Pura. Despite several requests to the government over the past 15 years, he has not been able to secure a small piece of land for this purpose. “I’m sure I’ll be able to work with renewed zeal post-retirement!” A poet at heart, Jojra remarks, “Death would be a celebration, if one is loyal to life!”
(This appeared in the print edition as "Committed To The Cause")
Liked the story? Do you or your friends have a similar story to share about 'ordinary' Indians making a difference to the community? Write to us. If your story is as compelling, we'll feature it online. Click here to submit.