Growing up amid extreme poverty and daily struggle, he studied and became an engineer — got a job and began to live a good life in Pune, India. At the time, he soon began to hear of droughts in his hometown as well as the increasing number of farmer suicides. Heartbroken, he wanted to do something, So he began by donating 10% of his salary to help farmers, Ashok Deshmane being the son of a farmer in India. He also started giving tuition to less fortunate kids in Pune district for free. But when the kids had to leave, he realized how much more he needed to do to help them out.
In 2015, he started his NGO called Snehwan. Through this project, he decided to adopt kids belonging to families where a farmer had died by suicide. Soon, he found many of these families were in huge debt and the kids had no where else to go. “I was working as an IT professional. I left the job and founded Snehwan, a non-governmental organisation in 2015. My aim is to educate the children of drought affected farmers,” said Ashok Deshmane.
Ashok and his team have been working hard to teach the children everything, starting from basic things. After four years, the students can now use computers, paint and practice yoga. They are also learning music. ‘Seeing our work to reach out to deprives students, Dr Ravindra Kulkarni from Pimpri-Chinchwad donated two acres of land in Alandi to our organisation’, says Ashok.
Deshmane got married in November 2016, and his wife Archana was more than happy to know about his cause and contribute to it. She cooks meals regularly for the one large family they have and is like a mother to them. “I got inspired by Baba Amte, one of the most known social activists in Maharashtra. I felt if I had the will I would find the way. I began working night shifts, and for 8 months I continued to work towards setting up this shelter. A friend of mine gave away his old house of 4 rooms for the children to live in, and I got Snehwan registered. However, the night shifts began affecting my health”, Ashok recalls, by August 2016, he quit his full-time job and dedicated himself to give quality education to the farmer’s children.