Homeless in Sydney


Dipen Dhruv – Sleepless on Sydney Streets

By Neena Badhwar


Dipen Dhruv, CEO of Leapfrog Consulting – a management consulting company focusing on organizations that are going through technological transformation was not the CEO for one night but a homeless person on the streets of Sydney.

Dipen Dhruv participated in St Vinnies Sleepout campaign on June 16 to fundraise for the homeless people in Australia. At other times Dipen is busy sailing on the Sydney harbour on Saturdays enjoying the beautiful harbour of Sydney city in a ‘lucky country ‘called Australia, says Dipen Dhruv, a 45-year old father of two, “There are many who are not so lucky as according to data there are now more than 200,000 homeless people on streets today. The night was an eye opener for me.”

“We were about 200 CEOs sleeping at Luna park where we were given a soup bowl and a piece of bread and some cardboards and asked to find a corner to sleep in. We even collected some newspapers as the night was pretty cold. Though I did take a sleeping bag and was well covered yet I could not help but feeling empathy for people who sleep 365 days on the streets. For me it was just one night. Yet I felt humbled thinking of young kids, families and youth who live on the streets of Sydney with no home.”

“Its St Vinnies that tries to put them up in shelters and at least one decent meal for the day, ” said Dipen.

So what were his thoughts on the night, “The night for me was not just sleeping out but also an awareness of why so many people go homeless in a rich country like Australia. There were talks by few homeless people who told us their stories. I learnt that how people shun them as they said that it would be good if someone said ‘hello’ and recognize the fact that they are human too. I shared my night with a Martin Paul Partner MD of ”˜More Strategic’. We talked a lot as it was difficult to go to sleep.”

“Even the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott came. I felt privileged to be introduced and was impressed by how a potential PM of Australia came and shook hands with us. When we joked with him whether he would like to join in in the Sleepout he actually came back to sleep and I guess that he was also given some cardboards.”

“We also had a panel discussion with various CEOs who talked about the problem, what to do and how to resolve it.”

“Late at night I got talking to the CEO of St Vinnies about the homelessness in Australia and that homeless people here were much better off than the ones in India. And we discussed how we could take such a campaign to India where I know that the richest of the rich live. Take Mukesh Ambani’s house in Mumbai for example, does he care that underneath his 2 billion dollar home there could be many who sleep on the footpaths. And does he care I wondered”¦”

“I want to bring this awareness in people in India. So we discussed who to contact and how to go about it in India.” Said Dipen.

“I want people not to look above at people who are better off than them but to look down and see how the homeless people have ended up in such a state. My key goals of this exercise were to see the people at Vinnies and how I can take such a concept to India.”

Dipen said that the CEOs Vinnies   Seepout campaign raised 4 million dollars that night with NSW CEOs contributing 1.5 million dollars. Says Dipen, “I pitched to my colleagues and friends to sponsor me and they did. I must say that awareness of such a campaign by Vinnies is lot less in the Indian community. It would be good if they contributed not just to this campaign but also to homeless people in India and became aware of what it is being a homeless person.”

Dipen Dhruv, CEO Leapfrog Consulting

So what did he learn, “I learnt that although people in Australia became homeless due to the breakdown of social structure, the breakdown of the family. Exactly how the Vinnies ad on homeless people depicts. These people can be from good homes but soon as the bread winner looses his job and finds himself in dire circumstances, children end up in foster homes and before they realize they are on the streets.”

“I observed that as compared to Australia where the problem can be solved because they are homeless due to the breakdown of the family’s social structure in India it can take much longer because of the very poor condition of the people who are illiterate with a mindset which has them in an environment that’s not helpful and don’t have hope as the society looks down upon them. In Australia people can be helped whereas in India it can take years to lift people out of the spiral of poverty and homelessness.”

Vinnies sleepout campaign included CEOs of Commonwealth Bank, Virgin Australia whose CEO John Borghotti was sponsored with a donation of $20,000 by Sir Richard Branson whereas Dipen only managed to collect $1300. But said Dipen, “I really felt good to be part of this campaign having missed out last year.   My daughter Anika was quite impressed and I had to take an iphone video as she insisted to see me sleeping out on a cold wintry night.”

Did you know?

*There are more than 105,000 Australians homeless every night, including 7,500 families.

*More than 12,000 Australian children under the age of 12 have no home.

*A further 22,000 young people aged 12 to 18 are homeless, most of them

estranged from their families.

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