One of the most respected and effective NGOs of Darjeeling, MARG (Mankind in Action for Rural Growth) was born from the simple vision of a man, Mr. Nirnay John Chettri to do something good for his society. He left his well-paying job in Delhi where he’d been working for 11 years with nothing but the determination to give back to his hometown of Darjeeling by bettering the various wrongs that inflict it. Initially, returning to his roots to start a brand new venture, solely dependent on the benevolence of relatives and friends was difficult, but what can deter a zealous mind?
MARG was registered as a national NGO in 2006, with the participation of co-founders from 7 other states of India. At its inception, it had as its aim the education of underprivileged children from the rural areas. It started out with the humble step of financially sponsoring 9 children from nearby rural areas. Then it progressed on to supporting students from Darjeeling itself, from sponsoring their education to advocating the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in the government schools.
However, a problem that soon surfaced from handling such children, was the number of missing cases among them, not only from the rural areas but from proper Darjeeling itself. In 2010, MARG started working against trafficking of women by taking on a project in which they recovered 9 girls from ‘proper’ Darjeeling who had been taken to Bangalore and become victims of commercial sexual violence. Now that it has substantial experience under its belt, the initiative taken by this NGO against human trafficking has been astounding.
Today, MARG is one of the 13 members of the ‘All India Network to End Human Trafficking.’ It has not only been successful in spreading awareness amongst the residents of Darjeeling about human trafficking but also in sensitising the local press in such matters and removing the stigma attached to the trafficking victims. In the words of its founder, “Today, MARG can proudly say that it is capable of locating and recovering anyone who has been trafficked to any part of the country, as it has links with local NGOs from various areas and also the trust of the police and the support of the people.” They have been so successful that girls have been recovered mid-way from trains and buses.
The NGO has started SAT (Students against Trafficking) clubs in almost every school of Darjeeling in which students, having been made aware themselves, take their own steps to further their fight against trafficking. Its annual fundraising marathon on International Girl Child Day witnessed 1100 participants in 2015, who all ran in support of this organisation. Moreover, the registered missing cases in the district crime bureau have shot up from 420 in 2010 to 923 in 2012. This in itself indicates how awareness has helped in the increase of reporting cases.
In 2016, MARG will form the DAT (Drivers against Trafficking) YAT (Youth against Trafficking) and other such clubs to involve every group of people in their mission. It will continue its fight against child sexual abuse, women’s physical exploitation and human trafficking while simultaneously sponsoring new children. Moreover, MARG will now focus on post-rescue of the victims, counselling and providing services to them in a rescue home which they hope to set up.
Website: Marg Ngo