Charity begins on the footpath

A young man in his twenties used to stand on the footpath opposite the famous Tata Cancer Hospital at Mumbai and stare at the crowd in front of him – fear plainly written on the faces of the patients standing at death’s door; their  relatives with equally grim faces running around… These sights disturbed him greatly.

Most of the patients were poor people from distant towns. They had no idea whom to meet, or what to do. They had no money for medicines, not even food. The young man, heavily depressed, would return home. ‘Something should be done for these people,’ he would think. He was haunted by the thought day and night. 

At last he found a way –

He rented out his own hotel that was doing good business and raised some money. From these funds he started a charitable activity right opposite Tata Cancer Hospital, on the pavement next to Kondaji Building. He himself had no idea that the activity would continue to flourish even after the passage of 27 years. The activity consisted of providing free meals for cancer patients and their relatives. Many people in the vicinity approved of this activity. Beginning with fifty, the number of beneficiaries soon rose to hundred, two hundred, three hundred. As the numbers of patients increased, so did the number of helping hands. 

As years rolled by, the activity continued; undeterred by the change of seasons, come winter, summer or even the dreaded monsoon of Mumbai. The number of beneficiaries soon reached 700. 

Mr. Harakhchand Sawla, for that was the name of the pioneer, did not stop here. He started supplying free medicines to the needy. In fact, he started a medicine bank, enlisting voluntary services of three doctors and three pharmacists. A toys bank was opened for kids suffering from cancer.

The ‘Jeevan Jyot’ trust founded by Mr. Savla now runs more than 60 humanitarian projects. Mr. Savla, now 57-years-old, works with the same vigour, calmness and serenity as when he started at the age of 20. He is the managing trustee of the trust which has expanded to 12 different centres across the country, including Mumbai, Jalgoan and Calcutta. He says that his wife has been a pillar of strength and support at all times in all his activities: his vision of social work, balance home and business.


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