There are war veterans and then there are the widows and the children of the soldiers who have died in action. But what about those widows and families where the soldier dies not while in action but due to other causes like a snake bite or road accident or illness? How are these widows taken care of?
And that is what Colonel Vembu Shankar does through his Project Sambandh, which helps families of Army personnel who die in non-battle scenarios. This project is actually a one-man, 1,000-day philanthropic programme. Colonel Vembu traverses the country, making pit-stops in booming metropolises and villages that have fallen off the map, to connect with the NOK of Indian Army physical casualties (deaths due to non-operational circumstances). He launched the project on August 15, 2017, and it will be completed by May 11, 2020. He traces families of Indian Army personnel who have died while in service due to accidents, medical conditions, suicide or fratricide over the last 20 years, linking them with stakeholders such as their Army units and the Government.
Such widows usually get insurance, the soldier’s ex-gratia but needs to go to her in-law’s place. This is the address that the Army has with regard to village/tehsil/district. Her children move from a city CBSE school to a local school. The corpus may dry up soon due to wrong investments. After that, she is an unpaid maid in that house. So she moves to the city for a better future for her children; the Army does not have this updated address. This is the gap which Project Sambandh tries to fill to ensure that the childrens’ education is not disrupted and the family has enough to live a life of dignity.
He has compiled a database of 35,000 and has met nearly 27,000. He has earmarked 15 days a month and 30% of his pension for this project.
For details, visit projectsambandh.com or write to theprojectsambandh@ gmail.com