Adhik Kadam- A Man Who Proved That Humanity Has No Boundaries
This is the story of a farmer from Maharashtra that provides homes to thousands of orphans in Kashmir.
Borders are political boundaries. They separate countries, states, cities, and towns. The ideal situation would be if all humans lived peacefully in harmony within their borders.
But the reality is the opposite. The chase for power and control leads to hatred and wars between countries. This power play ultimately affects innocent people, especially in the border areas.
In India, the border issues never seem to get resolved, which has led to thousands of children becoming orphans… for no fault of theirs. A study states that there are nearly 3 lakh estimated orphans in Jammu and Kashmir due to the conflict.
Who is responsible for taking care of these orphans? Usually, left to fend for themselves and if they survive, most often, are so filled with hatred, that they become easy targets for those who want to misguide them and use them for further disaster.
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One man who rose above caste, creed, religion and borders and reached out to these orphans in Jammu and Kashmir was Adhik Kadam.
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Adhik Kadam is an Indian social entrepreneur and Change Maker. He is on a peacebuilding and peacekeeping mission, working in the conflict zones of Jammu and Kashmir
Yes, a non-Kashmiri, a non-Muslim, a non-Kashmiri Pandit, a person with no links with the border states, a simple son of a farmer in Maharashtra, decided to devote his entire life to saving these orphans and giving them a better future.
Adhik created a space for these precious children where they feel safe, a space with no boundaries or prejudices. Wishing, someday, the world can be similar. He started a foundation with this vision- Borderless World Foundation (BWF).
Borderless World Foundation (BWF) is a registered non-profit, non-governmental organization, working in Jammu and Kashmir, along the conflict-affected border region between India, Pakistan & China.
BWF works toward a vision of “One Great Human Family”(Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam). They conduct diverse activities, including disaster relief and emergency medical support for the community and rescuing hundreds of children left orphaned by the ongoing conflict. They not only provide safe shelter but also love, support, health care and education to help them grow into a generation of peacemakers.
Adhik was born in 1977, in Shrigonda, near Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. His parents, Sadashiv and Vimal Kadam are still farmers. His father moved to Pune so that Adhik could get better education opportunities. Adhik was more of a sportsperson and always wanted to play for his country. Unfortunately, he could not continue with his love for wrestling, which led him to focus on his political science career.
Whatever Adhik took up, it had to be with 100% dedication. In college, he became friends with some Kashmiri students and, being a political science student, the issues about Kashmir always attracted him. He joined a 15 days research tour to Kashmir. Fate had its games to play. The others returned but Adhik stayed back for nearly 3 months.
At age 17, these experiences were the turning point for this young teenager. Adhik experienced every possible unfortunate horrifying incident one can expect in a terrorist-stricken border state. From being picked by the forces to seeing a real bomb blast incident with dead bodies strewn around, before his eyes. He saw infants getting orphaned and young girls becoming widows, all because of hatred and issues between two political nations, fighting over borderline differences, resulting in fear, chaos, a sense of alienation & socio-economic stagnation.
Early in his career, Adhik Kadam worked for many Non-Profit Organizations as a Volunteer. During the Kargil War, he worked at the forefront, especially for the migrants who left their homes in restraints due to forced war in Kargil, Batalik and Drass Sector. Later he worked on the project “Children Affected by Armed conflict in Jammu & Kashmir funded by UNICEF.
In 1997, Adhik Kadam surveyed most of the 369 villages in the district of Kupwara. They found that there were close to twenty-four thousand orphans in the district alone, most of whom were girl children. There were shelters for orphan boys, but there were none for girls.
Adhik returned to Pune only to give his exams but would return to Kashmir, to get deeper into solving the social and economic problems of the grief-stricken. He completed his post-graduation in Political science. After his post-grad, his base became Kashmir. His Janma bhumi is Maharashtra but his karm bhumi is Jammu Kashmir. He lived like a hermit, with no fixed income, home or family. Over time, his network increased due to his reaching-out initiatives.
It was time to give his efforts a formal structure if he needed to progress. Borderless World Foundation was founded in 2002 by Adhik Kadam and Bharati Mamani in Pune, India.
Establishing a Ngo in Kashmir was a herculean task, especially to build trust amongst the locals. Adhik was often picked up by the forces on both sides, both assuming he was working as a spy for the other. But, when they would verify the work he did, they would let him go.
Adhik admits, “that once you see so much terror and pain, the fear of death vanishes and then you reach a state of becoming immune to such experiences.”
Many also accused him of picking up orphan girls for trafficking or having ulterior motives. But with time, Adhik won the confidence of the local families.
Adhik is an extremely spiritual person and his belief resonates with what Spencer W Kimbell says- ” “I am not afraid of death. What I am afraid of is that I will meet the Saviour and He will say, ‘You could have done better’’.
Taking advice from great leaders like Gandhiji – “An Eye for an Eye will leave the whole world blind”, Adhik realized that the young generation, whose parents are killed in front of them, would grow with hatred and revenge which would further poison their minds and this, in turn, would create a vicious circle of terrorism. To break this detrimental cycle, he decided to adopt the orphan girl children (he calls them God’s Children), nurture them and inculcate the feeling of nationalism and humanism. He also made them realize that if we sow hate, we will reap violence. He started igniting their minds by taking care of their basic needs, educational needs, and spiritual needs.
Thus, he is focusing on the most vulnerable but most powerful section of society, the woman. When a girl gets educated and is financially stable, when she gets married and builds a family, she in turn influences the whole family with her values and thought process. This, over time, will support positive community growth and thus the national value system. This is the philosophy he works on.
Adhik shares,” These are the seeds which he is sowing for a peace establishment.” He believes that it is a “Sadhana”- which must continue for decades. Though it is a long-term process it’s the only way where we can build on the sense of peace in the fragmented and broken community of Jammu & Kashmir, he insists.
BWF focus areas are Health Care, Education, Rehabilitation of Orphans & Widows, Women Empowerment, Migrants & Refugees, and Empowerment through Employment.
It has been more than 20 years that Adhik has been working to uplift this community and rehabilitate them. Through his hard work, sacrifice and determination, he has succeeded in garnering productive donations and CSR funds through corporate and foreign funding. This has helped him to establish various initiatives. He has also received support from the local govt bodies and Indian Army, which took years to harness.
He established Project FAH – Facilitate and accomplish with Humanity. Due to the impact of wars, ruined villages and people moving into camps, issues like drug abuse, gambling, domestic violence, marital discord etc. became rampant. This project helps to give an environment which is free from such negative influences and is conducive to their overall development.
Project Bassera E Tabbassum has set up shelters in Kupwara, Anantnag, Budgam, Srinagar, and Jammu, with the help of CSR partners.
BeT provides shelter to most orphan girls and cares for their mental and physical health and education. More than 200 girls occupy the 5 homes. They are empowered through support in higher education by collaborating with many other universities and also Education Exposure Tours. More than 700 girls (through BWF nurturing) are educated and empowered in the span of the last 5 years.
Women Development center: ‘Rah-E-Niswan’ means ‘women’s way’.
BWF believes in creating livelihood for women in conflict regions and making them financially independent and self-sufficient by creating skill development centers in Bandipora and Baramulla. Many younger girls take courses in computerized embroidery, making sanitary napkins, stitching, knitting, and various computer courses, photography etc. Many have already become young entrepreneurs and are winning awards for their talent.
Health Care Initiatives.
They have arranged screening and surveillance camps to detect Non-communicable diseases such as women’s cancer screening, Hypertension, and diabetes. They arranged more than 500 medical camps in the last 20 years, encouraging more than 1100+ doctors from Maharashtra to cater their clinical expertise with the help of various rotary clubs.
Cure for Pellet Victims-
Adhik put in efforts in helping to regain the vision of 1270 youngsters out of 1400 who got affected by a gun pallet attack and had the potential to lose their vision permanently if unattended. He arranged a team of 13 top eye surgeons from Mumbai and southern India to carry out these complicated surgeries. If not treated, these affected youths would have given birth to further hatred and violence in future.
Disaster relief :
BWF has also provided disaster management support in case of natural disasters in more the 450 villages. The BWF team has been a first responder in wake of many natural disasters, including the floods in 2014, by organizing fully equipped ambulances and medical supplies.
The BWF team organized the deployment of 21 ALS ambulances to the remotest of remote places in collaboration with BSF and the Indian Army and operations are run by government hospitals. This initiative is catering to the health of more than 3 lakh population across 10 districts.
Udaan –Wings of Hope-
Udaan School and Rehabilitation Centre is a School for people with Special Needs in Drugmulla, Kupwara District of Jammu and Kashmir. It was started by the Indian Army in 2010 and now handed over to BWF in September 2019.
They are working for their physical and psychological recovery, further if possible, the social reintegration of these children. As per a survey conducted by the Handicapped Association of Kashmir, there are more than 38000 disabilities in Kupwara District.
Apart from the above achievements, Adhik also received recognition and appreciation on various national and international platforms.
He has given inspirational talks at Various Rotary Platforms, rotary clubs, Tata Institute of Social Sciences¸ TED (conference), TEDx RajarambapuIT, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Princeton University, Rotary International Clubs, etc.
He was recommended for national awards a few times, but he refused as he did not want to lose focus on his work. On a rare occasion, Adhik spent 49 mins sharing details about his work with President APJ Abdul Kalam in Delhi. Adhik is also awarded honorary Rotary membership by the Rotary Club of Pune South.
Awards and recognition
2009- CSO Partners Outstanding Annual Report Awards for transparency, accountability and best documentation process in the NGO sector in India.
2010- Mother Teresa Awards
2011- 2012-Youth Icon by Maharashtra times.
Yuvan Mesh award by Indradhanu Foundation, The Spirit of Mastek award.
In 2016 he received the ICA Awards and Savitri Sanman awards.
2017- The NBC award.
2020- Humanity Hero Award (Rotary, Kolkata).
Adhik has been an inspiration, big brother and father to thousands of orphan girls who now have hope and a home. He is responsible for bringing light into the lives of the new generation of Kashmiri children and there is now a positive ray of life in the future of Kashmir.
“The bravest and most noble are not those who take up arms, but those who are decent despite everything; who improve what it is in their power to improve, but do not imagine themselves to be saviors. In their humble struggle is true heroism.” ~ Theodore Dalrymple
Adhik is truly a hero, an unsung hero who will be the angle of change in Kashmir.
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