Published: 24th July 2018
Meet 19-year-old Immanuel Pathare, who is defogging slums in Hubballi to keep kids safe from dengue
Now, Immanuel Pathare wants help to drive away mosquitoes from the other nearby districts as well
Come monsoons and the mosquito menace begins. These pesky insects begin breeding rampantly in puddles left by the rain, thereby increasing in number and invariably, increasing the risk of people catching dengue. And while mosquito repellants and swatters might prove to be insufficient, mosquito foggers seem to do the trick (well at least the third or fourth time's the charm). For those of you unfamiliar with mosquito foggers, they are giant, rifle-like machines that dispense a fog-like gas of insecticide that kills mosquitoes. So what prompted a 19-year-old student in Hubballi to equip himself with one of these mosquito foggers? We ask the man in question, Immanuel Pathare himself.
Pathare wears an industrial mask and earbuds while fogging. He used to wear gloves, but abandoned them because they didn't help with grip. Another point to note is that the 55-kg Fog Man lifts a 40-kg fogger almost every day
Born in Mysuru and brought up in Hubballi, Pathare is a second year B Com student at Fatima Degree College and was also a part of the Deshpande Foundation's Leaders Accelerating Development (LEAD) programme. Last year, as the rain clouds unleashed their wrath on Hubballi, dengue went on the rise. It was when one of his sister's classmates passed away due to the disease that he started to think, "What if this had happened to my own sister? Once this thought took root in my mind, I wanted to do something so that I could control the situation around me," Pathare recalls. And take control, he did.
Convincing people becomes a challenge because I still look like a child. Some people promptly 'advise' me to go back to studying
Immanuel Pathare, Fog Man
Pathare used the spare fogger that belonged to the foundation to take matters into his own hands, literally! But this was only after he had approached the local corporation officials who said that securing a fogger would take up to ten months. Pathare still shudders while imagining the number of lives that would have been lost by then. So after checking with the health inspector about the composition of the gas, Pathare proceeded to fog 65 areas last year including Keshwapur, Chanakyapuri, Kalmeshwar Nagar and others, all by himself. But there was only so much the foundation could fund. "So we started charging people for the gas and fuel alone," shares Pathare, who has earned the name Fog Man for his initiative.
A lot of the areas have appreciated Pathare's efforts and the number of mosquitoes has indeed come down. Pathare charges Rs 300 for 50 houses and Rs 600 for 100 houses
This year too, Hubballi's Fog Man wants to reach out to not only those areas that can afford it, but also slums that are in dire need of it. "I want to go wherever people call, irrespective of whether they can pay or not," says Pathare. So to raise funds, he has started a crowdfunding campaign on Milaap. This year, he plans to not only eliminate the mosquito menace from the district of Hubballi, but from Dharwad as well, which will benefit more than eight lakh people. "There are other people who are replicating the same model in other districts. I will be visiting them once a month to check on their progress," he says rather passionately.
To check out his campaign, click on milaap.org/fundraisers/