Monday, November 30, 2009

26/11: Looking back, Looking ahead 7

Dilnavaz Bamboat, Pediatric Therapist and Pre-School Educationist, is one of the pillars of India Helps. Always committed to giving her time, her energy to any case, she brings to the team a vibrancy and optimism, tempered with a quirky turn of phrase that spreads cheer. She has worked with Balaji Kharatmal, made home visits to the Ansaris (a family which lost six members at CST) and hand held Purnima Goswami (grandmother of Ahana Mishra, a special child and a non 26/11 case) through Ahana's troubled hospitalisation in Jaslok. Here's what she has to say:

Doesn't time heal all wounds? Not this one. One long year and the misery is alive and fresh, as if November 26, 2008 were yesterday. In the mass funeral that was the date and three days after, our spirits were burned alive and I, for one, am still maimed. What has changed, though, is my ability to sleep at night, knowing that I didn't just criticize, mope and move on. Whether it was picking my way through winding slum alleys to hunt down victims' families or holding a sobbing grandmother while she mourned the fate of her abandoned, disabled grandchild, I used addled head and broken heart to help the best way I knew. The bigger tragedy, often, is not doing one's bit, and thanks to our wonderful team at India Helps, I could plop my teeny drop into the ocean. Life changes when newspaper stories morph into real people with faces and needs and long-lasting ties, and this is a change I will continue to embrace in the days ahead, as I have this past year. So tell me again, whom have YOU helped today?

Dilnavaz Bamboat

Pediatric Therapist

Lavanya Karthik, Environmental planner and writer, was among the first to make home visits to the victims, even before India Helps became a team. She, along with another team member visited the home of Bhanu Narkar with groceries and help. She also visited Balaji Kharatmal and has been checking on his wellbeing periodically.


Balaji Kharatmal

Balaji Kharatmal was injured in the firing at CST station on 26 November 2008. His mother, who was boarding a train with him was killed.

Balaji was taken to JJ hospital, where he was treated for shrapnel wounds . He still has shrapnel throughout his body, which cannot be removed. Formerly an auto driver, he is now employed as a sweeper with the Central Railways.

His immediate dependents included his wife and two children, though he was formerly supporting an extended family of over 11 people.

Balaji received Rs 50,000 in compensation for his injuries, and Rs. 5 lakh for his mother. A Mumbai based NGO stepped in to fund his children's education.

India Helps volunteers gave him about Rs 2000 for immediate cash expenses. He was also taken for a check up with a senior doctor, and helped in filing paperwork to claim additional compensation, and aid from the Taj Trust.

Bhanu Narkar

Employed as a watchman at the Cama Hospital on the night of the 26th, Bhanu Narkar was killed in the firing. He is survived by a wife, two sons and a daughter.

India Helps visited them twice, and helped with cash payments (about Rs 2000) and a month's supply of groceries. Additional support in filing paperwork ad finding employment for the sons was offered, but the Narkars declined. The older son subsequently took over his father's job at Cama, while the younger found a job as a cleaner. The daughter is in school and planned on finishing college.

26/11: Looking Back, Looking Ahead 6

Pune Chapter
Gunjan Parulkar, a software professional, manages India Helps' Pune Chapter. This is what she has to say about 26/11:
The housemaid at my Mom's home was a widow with three young children to look after. She toiled all day to make ends meet. There were times when my Mom not only gave her a shoulder to cry on, but my parents also helped her monetarily. Mom also took the maid's kid's lessons after her office hours to ensure they did not fail their school exams. This was one of our early lessons in social responsibility. There was and has always been this constant drive to help people around me.
When 26/11 happened, my first selfish instinct was to check with friends and family and ensure they were safe. After all, this wasn't the first time my city, country was being attacked. Forgive me for saying this, but it had become an everyday thing. A bomb blast here, a plane hijacked there.
The following two days, everybody on the blogsphere including me spewed anger and hatred. While browsing, I came across Kiran's India Helps, then Mumbai Helps, and wondered if this group will sustain or will it just be initial enthusiasm. Over one year, I have seen that all the members seem to bend over backwards to make a stranger's life better. Being associated to such wonderful people not only makes you feel better but more importantly makes your faith stronger. God bless!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

26/11: Looking Back, Looking Ahead 5

Sayantani Dutta, a lawyer by profession, has been part of the core team members since our inception. She has been hands on in documentation and making home visits to the bereaved. This is what she has to say:

This day last year started on a very ordinary mother was in town, so left work early to spend time with her. Hardly had I reached home that I started getting calls from friends asking me where I was, and whether I was safe. Confused about the reason for this string of calls, I switched on the television to see the madness that had engulfed the part of town I had been in only an hour ago, and where a lot of my friends and loved ones were still stuck. One was stuck in office in Express Towers right next to the Trident, another was stuck in Kalaghoda, a third was in Leopold and a fourth had managed to get away from Leopold just as firing began. Once I was done checking with all my friends, I sat glued in front of the television watching the landmarks in my adopted city burning under seige. Somewhere in the middle of all this, got to know that the managing partner of our firm, a well loved and brilliant lawyer, was inside the Trident and had possibly been killed. This was confirmed the next day.

I was enraged, upset and directionless...didn't know what to do. Then I got to know about about India Helps and how you were collecting money for Sunita Yadav..pitched in. Then I heard about the first meeting, couldn't make it there, but set out with Nihas to meet the people on his list. Don't know what to make of it, but both people I met in this connection were looking to make a quick buck out of the tragedy...I suppose that's not something to be taken to heart, but it did affect me then.

Today, I am proud to be associated with India Helps, and people like Karuna (Waghela) and Balaji (Kharatmal) humble me. It is amazing how they have faced the situation head on and have largely succeded in bringing back a semblance of normalcy into their lives. It is also amazing how a group of people from different positions in life have come together for a common cause, and have actually managed to make a difference in the lives of the people they interacted with.

But amongst all this, it is a little disheartening to see that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Today, one year after the attacks, none of the policy changes have materialised. We, as a people, have not really done much. I for one have not. I did not vote, because I wasn't registered in Maharashtra and the transfer of my voter id card did not happen in time for me to vote. I allowed two people looking to make a quick buck to affect me to an extent that I became cynical about our ability to help and let pass an opportunity to help others who really needed it. For all this I feel guilty...and angered. So the anger has not really ebbed in the past one year.
Sayantani Dutta

(Pic courtesy The Hindu)

Salma Thakray

The name of the deceased is Sunil Ashok Thakray, aged about 30 years and prior to his death on November 26, 2008, he was a vendor, whose stall was located opposite one of the gates of CST station. He was killed in the CST shootout as the militants were leaving the CST premises.

He is survived by his partner Salma Thakray and her two children from a previous marriage, aged 9 and 7 years respectively.

Immediately after Sunil's death, the family situation was fairly grim, with Salma having neither any money nor any source of livelihood. She also had no relatives to fall back upon. Further, as Sunil and Salma had not been legally married, chances of Salma being able to claim compensation of any sort from any of the government agencies or a jo0b on compassionate grounds also seemed fairly bleak. The children were however provided for and were studying in a charitable boarding school in Panvel. Prior to Sunil's death, the couple stayed in a one room hutment in Dombivili, which Salma had to leave as she had no money for the rent after Sunil's death. She was not professionally qualified or educated and was not doing anything when Sunil was alive. She was not employed anywhere and had no regular source of livelihood.

Her immediate requirements were a house, a stable means of livelihood and a mobile phone in order to ensure accessibility. Her long term requirements included a ration card and a bank account to enable her to save for her children.

Prior to India Helps intervention, she'd received Rs. 15,000 from the Railways as funeral expenses.

This case was handled by Sayantani Dutta from India Helps. India Helps was involved primarily in providing her with monetary aid – a team member bought her a mobile phone and a connection in order to ensure that she could be easily contacted. We also provided her with monetary aid in order in order to help her pay the deposit for a house.

26/11: Looking Back, Looking Ahead 4

Sangeeta Irani, India Helps member, is our straight-talking,fund-raising whiz. With over 20 years' experience in communications, this president of an ad firm checks the veracity of India Helps cases by making home and hospital visits, actively raises funds and, in her own words, tries to help victims lead a better life. This is her piece:

It could have been me, no one was safe. These were my first thoughts. As I watched them attack my city, my country, I changed. I was angry and I wanted to do something that proved that those cowards failed. If they thought we would be scared they were wrong. This country, its people will only help each other and come out stronger. That is all.

I started alone in the wards of the JJ hospital, meeting victims and talking to doctors. I soon realized that alone was not enough. This needs people who give time, not just money. Along the way, I found India Helps. We started with 26/11 and have now morphed into something larger. India Helps has only had to post an appeal and people across the world help with money and time.

I met Poonam Singh and her husband Santosh Singh. Poonam was injured with bullets at CST and had lost mobility. I went to a slum at Vikhroli and it was hard. Hard to understand how people lived with so little and were so content. We got Dr. Vaibhav Patil to give generously of his time to give Poonam and conduct physiotherapy at her home. We mobilized financial help so that the family could move to the base of the slum. This means Poonam would not need to climb uphill. Her knee still buckles sometimes, but she walks. Sachin, her son has lost movement in a finger and we are in the process of finding a solution. I am happy when I hear Poonam is walking, or that the Taj Trust is training her.

I have a lot to be grateful for, including a family that does not grudge the time I put in. This one year has taught me that life is unpredictable. However, how we react is up to us. Most of all, I have the satisfaction of knowing - it is possible to actually step out and help. That I have met a bunch of lovely people at India Helps is a bonus.

For me, 26/11 is the day we got angry. It’s the day they failed to shatter our fortitude.

Sangeeta Irani


Case Update

The Singh Family

1. Name of the deceased/ injured, occupation and approximate monthly earnings at the time of the casualty:

Poonam Singh - 34 years old
Sachin Singh – 7 years old

No one died in this case, but they were injured – enough for life to change for the family. Poonam is a housewife and a mother to 4 children. She therefore cooked, cleaned the home, got water, washed clothes and is a mother and a wife. Poonam earns nothing but if anyone else had to do her work it would cost the family.

Sachin is a student.

(ii) Where did the casualty occur:

At CST station. Poonam was with her son and was going to her father's village to attend a function. Both Poonam and Sachin were injured. Sachin heard some noise and ran, Poonam ran to get him. She was hit by bullets and was unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she was immobile and at JJ hospital. Sachin was also at the hospital.

(iii) Dependents (number and details):
Husband Santosh Singh and 4 children, including Sachin

(iv) Details of the situation at that time:

IH met her first at the JJ Hospital on the day she was leaving. She was the last 26/11 case at JJ . It was February and she was not able to walk independently. The doctors told her that with therapy, she would walk eventually . In the interim she would start with a walker, do physiotherapy . Poonam lived in a slum on a slope and walking on a hilly area was a daily affair. The inability to walk meant she could not move out of the 5x5 foot home- not even to the communal toilets.

Her daughter missed school and between the husband and the daughter they managed the home. The daughter missed out on over 3 months of school and thus lost a year in education. At eleven, she also lost her childhood.

Sachin seemed fine but post 26/11 Santosh Singh said his son was rebelling and not listening to them as much as before. He also lost mobility in one finger and has a visible big bump on left hand .

(v) IH contact:

Sangeeta Irani

(vi) Details of help/ support provided by IH:

Donated a Walker, paid a visit to her home at Vikhroli. Networked to get her a doctor who could come to the slum to teach her the required exercises. Godrej Hospital did that twice and then we got Dr. V. Patil who comes once a month and helps the family. India Helps promised to help with increased rent if the family found a home at the base of the slum, as this would help Poonam walk more and hence recover faster.

IH asked and generated support for 11 months of rent and reimbursement for a few medical bills. We are now helping with doctor visits and x-rays for Sachin . We are seeking a second opinion to figure if we can revive the finger. We will also seek guidance for plastic surgery and be with the family through the process.

(vii) Media coverage:

(viii) Present situation:

To assist with the direction of Sachin's treatment; Poonam to continue the physiotherapy; provide monetary help for part payment of rent for a year.

(ix) Status of the case:

Help continuing until Nov. 2010

Part payment of rent for a year for Poonam Singh. To review her case after a year.

Payment for medicines as required .

Surgery and doctor consultation fees, X-rays etc for Sachin.

(x) Future requirements:

For Sachin, surgery as required

Thursday, November 26, 2009

26/11: Looking Back, Looking Ahead 3

Parul Sharma, India Helps core team member is the celebrity author in our team, with her book Bringing Up Vasu out recently. She has been part of the team since the first day we met up, and has provided vital support on the Momina Khatoon case, and the Salma Thackeray case amongst others. Here is what she has to say:

I think I will remember 26/11 and the subsequent days as the darkest I have known in my life. As an Indian who sees tragedies and ill-managed disasters being reported every day from every corner of my country, I thought that somewhere I had developed a thick skin over my conscience. The carnage on 26/11, the unprecedented levels of violence, the systematic way in which innocents were killed, so close to where I was sitting watching my television affected me in a way that I did not think was possible anymore. I mourned the loss of those lives, I wept as the dead bodies were brought out, my heart swelled in pride at the people who laid their lives to protect their fellowmen and a little later when all that was left was a sense of deep loss and grief, I wanted to reach out and help in any way that I could. In other words, I felt as millions of others did.
India Helps was a small representation of those millions, a fragment of the larger whole. Today, I belong to this group with a sense of pride and it has helped me contribute in my own small way to my country and to my fellow Indians.

Parul Sharma

26/11: Looking Back, Looking Ahead 2

Aparna Nair was among the core team of members who met on the very first day the India Helps team came together last December, spending an hour pouring over the list of the dead and injured at CST. Aparna, a lawyer by profession, has been earnestly working with Momina Khatoon over the past year.

This is what she has to say about her journey:

A year has gone by since 26/11, the dreadful day. Every Mumbaikar will always remember this day. It has been engraved into our minds. But 26/11 brought a group of us together who wanted to do something, help those who have suffered.
It has been a year since I met Momina, the wife of the taxi driver whose husband died in the Vile Parle Bomb Blast. From the day I met her till today she has changed a lot. Initially she was a heart broken women who knew she couldn't leave the city to ensure her children get an education. The news of her fourth pregnancy came a week or two later, after her bereavement.
She has emerged stronger over the past year, with each meeting I have had with her. She has learnt how to use the mobile. She knows how to dial and reach me. She has
been speaking boldly to all people who have come to meet her regarding her finances and the help she needs.
Earlier when we would counsel her about the need to stand on her feet and become financially independent, she would brush the topic aside, but today she has taken small steps towards the same. She has started gajra making independently. I think every incident in life makes you stronger and that is what 26/11 did to Momina.
I think 26/11 taught me that I need to thank God for everything I have and learn to value everything we have.
Aparna Nair

(Picture courtesy TOI)

Case Update
Momina Khatoon Sheikh

(i) Name of the deceased/ injured, occupation and approximate monthly earnings at the time of the casualty:
Deceased: Mohammed Umar Abdul Khalid Sheikh, (35) Taxi driver. Earnings approximately Rs 4,000-5,000 per month.

(ii) Where did the casualty occur:
Killed in the taxi explosion in Vile Parle

(iii) Dependents (number and details)
Wife: Momina Khatoon Sheikh (30), Children: Arbaz (7 yrs), Faizal (4) and Afzal (2 yrs) and the baby boy (3 months).

(iv) Details of the situation at that time:
Momina was new to the city, having arrived in Mumbai only 8 months ago. The family stayed in a small room in Govandi with a monthly rent of Rs. 1500. Eldest child had joined school. She was pregnant, without savings and had no immediate means of supporting herself, not being trained in any specific vocation. She needed medical attention as well as moral and financial support. Was dependent upon the money given by people when they visit her and the money received from the Government.
• Housing
• Treatment and medical expenses.
• Education of the children.
• Interim help with daily expenses – rent and groceries.
• Long term solution for expenses and livelihood.

(v) Details of help/ support provided by IH: Hearing of Momina’s plight in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India Helps went to meet Momina to work out her exact and immediate needs. Immediate fund raising efforts were started, through the blog, word of mouth and using the media. It helped her pay for her monthly house rent and groceries, and also proposed and followed up on the status of her case at the Taj Trust. IH provided medical assistance for Momina’s pre and post-natal care in the form of doctor’s visits, regular counselling and follow-up visits.

(vi) Media coverage:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

India Helps Thanks Dr Patil once again....

Update on Poonam Singh

This in from Sangeeta:

Poonam's son, Yash, who is all of three years old refuses to go to her ( We need some one to counsel at the slum because Santosh has one day holiday a week. The kid will not go near Poonam. And Santosh's father is 85 years old he can't take anyone anywhere. I asked him why he did not tell me (about Yash's silence) and he said he assumed I knew it!

Santosh said that Poonam now has learnt to travel by train and changes two trains and travels alone to go to the Taj Training (Poonam Singh is being trained by the Taj Trust for a housekeeping job). He was happy and told me she is much stronger. Yes, her knee may buckle occasionally.

I asked him directly about the medical issues (he has been quoted in the Times of India report saying medical bills are mounting) and he said there are no great bills. Whatever problems they have they go to local doctor.

Edited to add: IH has collected funds directly in Santosh Singh's name for his home rent to enable Poonam Singh move to a lower level home from the hillock they lived in at Vikhroli, and is seeking medical help for their elder son, Sachin who has a finger injury that still needs treatment. We are also looking for counsellors who would be willing to make pro bono visits to Vikhroli to counsel 3 year old Yash.

Update on Momina

This fresh in from Aparna:
Yesterday morning after I read the news (of the extortion threats) in the Mumbai Mirror, I immediately spoke to Momina. She was very surprised to know that I had heard of the news. She was not aware that the news had been published in the papers. She was
mentioning to me that since the first of this month there has been media people doing the rounds of her house. The meetings with these people start at 10 and end only by 5 in the evening.

I asked her that if she has been getting threatening calls since three months how come she did not even mentioned it once, she said she was scared and did not want to tell too many people. She has mentioned it to some person close to her house who has also been lending support to her. So I guess from there it reached the media.

Also her money is still with some chacha (Momina has given the compensation amount she received to a relative who has promised her interest) and she will get the money back this month and she is planning to put it in the bank or invest in some property.

I personally feel there is a lot of communication gap, as in, she is not able to communicate her thoughts properly to people and people also understand differently.

India Helps in the Mumbai Mirror today

On Page 24, in an article on Dr Vaibhav Patil helping Poonam Singh, and on Page 29, in an article on agents of change. Will upload the links as soon as I find them....

India Helps in the news

26/11: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Welcome. Today marks the anniversary of our raison d'etre. Truth be told, we couldn't see this far ahead when we began our individual journeys a year ago to come together as India Helps. We only knew we had to do what needed to be done at the time, put one foot ahead of the other, stayed firm, committed and tenacious, and here we are, still functional, still together and more hopeful than ever.

Beginning today, all the way up to our team's first anniversary on December 3rd, we will share our personal journeys with you--lessons learned, moments recaptured, and our wishes for the months ahead. We invite you to read about the lives that have become much more than "cases" to us and earnestly request your continued support so that Team India Helps remains true to its name and mission.


Kiran Manral's Story (Founder)

I had just tucked the child into bed, and was about to drift off to sleep myself, when I got a message from a friend in Kolkata, "Kiran, stay indoors, stay safe." I jumped up. "What's wrong?" I messaged back. "Switch on the television, Mumbai's under siege," she replied. And I did. And I sat catatonic in front the television set for three continuous days. Unable to tear my eyes off the screen.

I could feel my heart getting numbed. I saw television channels going mad, human desperation stared me in the face, hope died, horror swamped the city. The phone lines were jammed. Friends, their siblings trapped in the Trident, their lives hanging on the line with intermittent SMSes assuring their families that they were still alive and well. The blasts, the sound of gunfire, the visuals of a calm and collected Hemant Karkare putting on his bullet proof vest and checking the small pistol in his hand before going after the terrorists who had just fled CST gave me momentary hope. He seemed like a man who would get the job done. The newsflash that he was killed had me lose all hope. I broke down when I saw the Taj Mahal dome go up in flames. I hugged my son when I saw baby Moshe bawling as he was brought out from Nariman House. A slow rage built up in me as I saw the visuals of the bodies being brought out from CST. The only fault of the victims was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have been me. It could have been mine.

I have never felt as helpless in my life as I did those three days. It was a nightmare that I experienced vicariously, but which has shaken me to the core. I needed to do something. What could I, an ordinary citizen, with no resources, no contacts, and no influence do to help? I could try. I visited Karuna Waghela's home. There was chaos. There was no money for the funeral rites. I went back and sent across some funds. I sent in some groceries. That was the start of India Helps.

I began a blog. I posted details of victims/bereaved and pointed readers/fellow bloggers towards them. I asked kind souls to help out, to send in funds, groceries. People opened their hearts and their souls. People wanted to give more than just a signed cheque. They wanted to visit the victims, to hold their hands in condolence and solidarity. They wanted to offer them a shoulder to cry on. Within a week, I had people write in wanting to be part of the India Helps team. We met. We had a list of CST victims with us. We distributed responsibilities amongst us, a group of strangers, connected only through a collective grief, and went out searching these victims and their next of kin. We went into slums, into areas of the city we had never visited. We offered help. Anyway we could. We were never turned away.

We met all kinds of people. People who genuinely needed help, people who tried to take advantage of our help, people who were milking their tragedy for all it was worth, and those who were resolute and brave and stoic. I was humbled by those, women like Karuna Waghela, who rose from their grief to carve an independent life for themselves. Families like that of Bhanu Narkar, who were gracious in their grief, and reluctant to accept financial help. Children like Ganesh, who were forced to grow up before their time and become the head of the household.

A year down the line, my anger still burns strong. Each time I read about Kasab's trial my heart aches for all those who lost their lives at his hands.

But I have hope. I know that people are not apathetic. That people will rise to help. Whenever needed. And that is the spirit that no terrorist can ever kill.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A story of an unsung hero

The horror of 26/11 was experienced the most keenly by India Helps team member, Suma. Her father was in the Oberoi during the entire terror attack. Read more about his valour here:
We are proud of you, Sir.

Update on Sachin Singh

This update from Sangeeta:

We have an appointment with Dr Pathankar for Sachin (for his hand) at 7 pm on 26/11/2009. Dr Patil has agreed to go with the family. And we move ahead with Sachin a year after it all began.

Edited to add: We at India Helps would like to thank Dr Vaibhav Patil for his unstinting support to the Singh family.

What can you do on the anniversary of 26/11

Abhedya Mumbai
A music concert at the Gateway of India
The non-stop event on November 26, slated to be held from 6 am to 10 pm, is an open-for-all event, with performances ranging from classical to film music. Performances by school children have also been planned during the day, which will be attended by Bollywood celebrities.
The show will begin with classical music performances by legendary maestros performing live, including Shri Hariprasad Chaurasia. This will be followed with recitals and prayers by school choirs. Youth bands from across Mumbai will be seen performing, and in the concluding stage various celebrated artistes from Mumbai will perform live for the occasion. Sonu Nigam, along with a few other artistes, will perform a song that has Nigam has specifically penned and composed for the occasion.
6 am to midnight.

Police Flag March
8am, November 26
Start Point: Oberoi Hotel
End Point: Girgaum Chowpatty

The Bowen Memorial Methodist Church, Apollo Bunder
(Behind Taj Mahal Hotel)
Special Memorial Service at 7 pm on November 26, as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives in the terror attack.
The service will be followed by the lighting of candles in memory of the victims.

Join Celebrate Bandra’s solidarity walk or listen to devotional music by artistes Shyamala Sajnani, Sheila Verma and Amerendu Dhaneshwar on November 26 at 6:30 pm and 7pm respectively, to mark the attacks.

March begins at Bandra Bandstand Fort.

Devotional Concert at Reclamation Promenade, Bandra (W).

Paint your message to the heroes of 26/11 on the wall running along Marine Lines, in an artistic tribute organised by NGOs I Love Mumbai and Giants International. Initiative begins today, November 25at 3 pm.

A Charity Garage Sale is being held at HQs - Mumbai's 1st all-day pub.

The event is being held from 12pm - 7pm, at HQ's - above Cafe Royal, with all proceeds from the sale of volunteered items going to the victims of 26/11.

On Display we have - Clothes, Shoes, Bags, Accessories, books and a lot more!

Date: Thursday, 26th November 2009

Venue: Headquarters, Colaba

Time: 12:00pm to 7:00pm

"Where Were You" - The Street Extempore --- JOIN IN
What are you doing on the anniversary of that gory night? It still generates a chill down my spine when I think of that ominous night. It saddens me to learn that many of us have lived up to the amnesic nature of Mumbai. And it is upon us, few awakened souls, to create an interesting movement for people to participate.

What Is The Tentative Plan??
Along with a few friends of mine, I would be at different terror spots on 26/11. We will do something very simple. Form a circle of 3-4 people, one of the participants would come in the center and speak about what s/he was doing on 26/29 November 2008. Once s/he finishes, s/he points to a random person in the circle and asks "Where Were You?". Now this person, (who could be amongst us or a bystander who teams up) would come to the center circle and speak about her/is experience on 26-29/11.

Would you like to join in too??? We are waiting. Call Harish Iyer on 9833100340 or email him on


Wake Up Bandra

Children and Celebrities will create a Unity Wall on the compound perimeter of Mehboob Studio at Mount Carmel Road, Bandra.


Monday, November 23, 2009

India Helps in the Indian Express...

And I have had a sex change operation for this one...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

India Helps in The New Indian Express

Read it here:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A big thank you...

To Parul Sharma, Shivani Kagti, Gunjan Parulkar, Pravin Nair and all those who have helped out with funds for Poonam Singh's rent.
If anyone has made a direct transfer we dont know about, do mail us at, to let us keep our records updated.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Children's Day at our Pavement Schools

The Computer Science department (headed by Prof Vinita N Gaikwad and her students) of Thakur College, Kandivali East, visited our pavement school on Childrens Day and distributed snacks and gifts to the children. Here are the pictures...

A big thank you from team India Helps!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas Party for our Street Children

We at India Helps are planning a Christmas Party for the children of
our street schools. We invite kind souls to pitch in with gifts, goody
bags and anything they would like to distribute to make the children
Gifts should be giftwrapped and labelled with the name of the person
who has given them. You could hand them across personally on the day of the party (which will be announced soon, once we finalise it), between 8 to 10am at our pavement schools in Goregaon West, or
you could drop them off at our office:
India Helps
1/7 Nityanand CHS,
SN Marg, Andheri East,
Mumbai 69.

Thank you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

For Mumbaikars

Mumbai city will soon get a new Municipal Commissioner, who heads the the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).

The MCGM was established in 1882, and is one of the largest local governments in the world; it serves a population of 18 million people over an area of 500 sq. km. with an Annual Budget of Rs. 19,000 crores. The functioning of MCGM affects the daily lives of every citizen, as it is the policy-making and implementing agency for a wide range of services that include Public Health, Water and Sanitation, Building Proposals, Roads and Footpaths, Trees and Gardens, Zoo, Stray Dogs, Solid Waste Management, Education, Hawkers, Sewage, etc. (See for details)

a) What are the 3 targets to improve Mumbai that you would like to suggest to the new Municipal Commissioner for the next 3 years.
e.g.: ensuring rain water harvesting to meet 20% of Mumbai's water needs.

b) What are the guiding principles that an organisation such as MCGM should adopt: e.g. to tackle corruption or to increase effeciency?

Responses shall be compiled and forwarded to the new Municipal Commissioner.

Inputs and suggestions from individual citizens are essential to help government perform better. It is only when we all think of what we would like our city and country (and therefore society) to be, and start participating in the process to make this change, that we will achieve change at a faster rate.


Vinay - creating cities for citizens

Take a look at this..

Sent in by kbpm, I thought this was a wonderful way to inculcate social consciousness amongst children.

From Kolkata

This came in over the weekend from Mamma Mia, Me a Mamma?

I finally met Santanu Ghose, the man who got in touch with us regarding the dhobi's son, whose name is Ankit, by the way. I have Ankit's medical reports as well as X-rays with me. I have spoken to my friend whose brother is an orthopaedic surgeon and she'll be taking me to meet him sometime next week so that I can get his opinion.

As for Aahana, I'm afraid we need to move the appeals to a bigger level...