Monday, December 28, 2009

Low cost spine treatment in Mumbai

"LOW COST SPINE CARE" of the SPINE FOUNDATION – extends to the

V N DESAI Municipal Hospital, Santacruz (East)

The spine unit (Previously at KEM hospital of Brihanmumbai Municipal corporation and presently at the Lilavati and Breach Candy hospital), has served the society for over two decades, working in various capacities and at variety of institutions. The focus, however has been on that section of the society who approached the unit with a problem, and the majority of such cases are 'well informed' about the options and their choices and are largely affording.

However, we are all aware that, an even larger section of the society remains unattended, purely for want of resources and sheer unaffordability. The spine problems affecting these "have nots" cause greater disability not only to the individuals but to their families and dependents, who have no other financial support systems. Although they are poor, the treatment options for their spine ailments still need a lot of expertise and prohibitive expenses mainly due to the cost of infrastructure.

The spine unit has decided to bridge this gap and reach out to atleast some of these unfortunate spine cases, who cannot afford these "state of the art" remedies.

The initiative called as the "LOW COST SPINE CARE [LCSC] SCHEME "- is a joint venture of the spine unit and the "spine foundation", which is a charitable organisation aimed at providing aid to spine cases with inadequate resources.

As an extension to this venture (Already running at CSSC an NGO – at Bandra Kurla Complex, and at Tilak Hospital – at BDD chawl Worli), the spine unit is now extending its free services to V N Desai Municipal Hospital, Santa Cruz East.

In the long term, this initiative aims at upgrading the spine care facilities in the peripheral hospitals and avoiding unnecessary referrals to Tertiary hospitals.

Who is eligible to avail of this facility ?

All spine cases needing treatment under the LCSC scheme, and who are not able to afford private clinics, will be seen on Monday/ Friday at V N Desai Municipal Hospital between 1 pm to 2 pm. If further management is required they will be admitted in the same hospital.

Where will these surgeries be performed ?

These surgeries will be performed at the V N Desai Municipal Hospital, Santacruz east, Mumbai.

The surgeries will of course be performed by any one of the experienced spine surgeons of the spine unit, depending on the complexity of the individual case. Requests made by the patients or their referring physicians-for "specific surgeons"-will not be entertained in the LCSC Scheme.

If you are a patient or if you want to refer a patient - How should you avail of this facility ?

[a] Come to OPD at V N Desai Municipal Hospital, Santa cruz east, Mumbai at 1 PM (On Mondays and Fridays), in OPD Number 6 for "primary clinical consultation."

[b] After primary consultation, if required the case will be counselled for surgery and given the earliest possible appointment for surgery.

We are sure that this facility will open up newer options and avenues for the treatment of spine cases with limited or meager resources.

We hope to reach out to more and more of the society, in the years to come and set a "role model" which can be initiated/ duplicated in different parts of our state and our country , thereby serving a larger portion of the population, in the near future !

Let us all work together in making this venture a great success !

Regards from the spine unit.






DR TARAK PATEL 9833990913

DR TUSHAR DEORE 9619834091


Christmas Party for the children from the Street School

This report in from Prachi:

Hey All,

I attended the Christmas Party yesterday and I have to say, it was just wonderful. (I'm trying to give a more formal report here and not just blabber about how much fun I had.

The party was really well-planned with Priyanka having thought of each element. The place was perfect for the group of children, all the children from the pavement schools (above 5 years of age) were invited and you could see how excited they were as they arrived in perfect single-line formations with their respective teachers. I have not seen a more excited yet disciplined bunch.

As the children were seated, the party host took charge. He had the children entertained and listening to him, a few times when he needed help the proud teachers stepped in and took care that the kids were all well-behaved. Once the host started with the games, it was so much fun!All you could hear is music, laughter and claps. The kids were SO responsive and they just had a ball as they all played, won, lost and laughed; I myself couldn't stop grinning. I'm going to send some pictures soon but couldn't wait to send this mail :)

After the party games Magician Mhelly had the kids glued. He put up a really great show with some great tricks and lots of audience interaction. Especially, his trick with the lil magician doll Pappu spraying the kids with 'susu' had the kids rolling with laughter. He mentioned later that he doesn't always get such enthu kids as audience, his job was easier because the crowd was great.

As the magic show reached its finale the chief guest came in, ho-hoing all the way. Kudos to Ruchi, she was a FANTASTIC Santa. The kids all flocked around Santa and danced away, then each one shook hands and received the gift from him. Even while handing out gifts, this very lively Santa teased and entertained the kids, making each one feel special. With the last gift given the music was turned up and all the kids danced away with such vigor. It was just reallllly festive with not one dull moment. The dancing had to be stopped only so that the big chocolate cake could be cut. The Prabodhan canteen had sponsored and prepared the snack packets for everyone and these were handed out with candies, juice and cake. Priyanka the very sweet hostess made sure that there wasn't one person left out (including the one with the very upset tummy). With the party coming to a close the teachers from each of the school had the still excited children file out. I have to say this, for such a big group of SUCH enthusiatic children it was remarkably well-managed affair.

So, if the smiles, the bright eyes and the amount of fun had are anything to go by, this was one hell of a party!!

A BIG THANK YOU: Prabodh Desai for the venue, Prabhodan canteen for the snacks, Dilnavaz, Mr and Mrs Vanmali for the magic show, Ruchi for being Santa, everyone from India Helps and outside who chipped in to contribute for the cake, and gifts, all those who took time out to attend the event. And finally, a big big hurrah for Priyanka for making this possible. It was only her singleminded dedication that made this party a rocking success.

Attendees: The teachers and volunteers. From IH, Dilnavaz, Renu, Priyanka and Prachi, Vickram Chaturvedi, Mayfrid, Raut Sir, Ramnik Bhai, Mr Nadar, Mr Mukherjee, Prabodh Desai and Mitesh.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mumbai Mirror writes about Shabnam today...

Read about Shabnam and her family here.

Thank you everyone who chipped in to help Shabnam and her family with rent (thank you Panchtatva), groceries, sewing machine and clothes. It feels good to see a little chit of a girl determined to fend for her family and stand on her own feet.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A little help for a boy to have a normal spine

Ankit is a dhobis son in Kolkata. He has been referred to us by Santanu Ghose, a gentleman who has been following up on him. Ankit has a congenital spinal deformity and needs an operation to correct this and allow him to have a normal life. Baisali from our Kolkata chapter has be following up on this and this is her latest update:

This is the update on Ankit, the dhobi's son. I showed the x-rays and reports to my friend, Dr. Argho Roy. He said the surgery is complicated and the recovery period a long drawn-out one. If not done by an absolute expert, the operation can easily be botched up.

Ankit's family took him and the reports to Ramkrishna Seva Pratishtan (RSP), the hospital where they have been getting him checked right from the beginning. The 'foreign doctor' (couldn't catch his name) gave him a thorough check-up. He and his team will be operating upon the boy, free of charge. Prosthesis and post-operative care will come up to around Rs. 25,000/- at the most. Intense physio-therapy also required.

Right now the boy needs an MRI at the earliest for which Rs. 9,000/ is required. The boys father has 4k, my father has offered to chip in 2k and I can put in 2k as well.

Edited to add: If 25 kind souls can spare Rs 1000 each, this child could get a new life, ridding him of the pain he's in everyday. Write in to us at indiahelps@gmail if you would like to help.
Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Help this man

He lost his hand while trying to save his shop from being blown up. Read about it here.
Case History:
Prabhu Kumar Chaudhary a resident of a village in Rajasthan ran an electric appliance repair store in Naigaon, on the outskirts of Mumbai. He was injured while saving his shop from being blown up by crude bombs thrown by thieves who were targetting a nearby jeweller store.
He has lost his left palm as a bomb exploded in his hand. His leg was also injured but operated on by the doctors successfully at the Cardinal Gracias Hospital in Vasai.

His sister lives in Bhiwandi. He has a cousin, Mohan, who is currently helping him at the hospital. Parents are illiterate have come down from the village but unable to understand what the doctors have to say hence Mohan is of great help. After getting discharged he will be moving in with his sister in Bhiwandi.

Financial Situation:
The hospital bills are close to a lakh with no one to repay them. Post operative care will be additional. Condition of amputed arm not very great he will not be able to work as a mechanic any more the Doctors are still assessing what best they can do to help him. This could mean a longer hospital stay and more operations.
His cousin Mohan's contact number is 9049881696.
If anyone would like to help him pay his hospital bills, they could contact Cardinal Gracias Memorial Hospital Trust (Contact no. 0250-2325019).
Prabhu would also need help with counselling and rehabilitation, given that he will not be able to go back to his earlier profession. If anyone could help him with an alternate source of income, or professional training that would help him gain a job despite the loss of his left palm, do mail us at, or

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sure Start

A mail on an initiative by PATH to educate pregnant women on safe childbirth. Read more about it here:

Dear Indiahelps team,

A million babies in India die each year during child birth.
78,000 women die in India during labor.
Simply because they do not know about safe child birth practices.

Sure Start project, a five-year initiative by PATH, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works towards educating pregnant mothers in India about safe child birth. Sure Start trains volunteers to meet and interact with illiterate pregnant women and their families and spread the message of safe child birth.

Sure Start uses innovative tools like games, music, songs and radio programs to educate women on the importance of medical care during pregnancy, the need for hospital births and the significance of breast-feeding and regular vaccinations for the newborn child.

Sure Start is working on promoting safe child birth in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra in India. Sure Start’s efforts have shown impressive results in these two states.

100% of committees in Uttar Pradesh have functional plans for providing transport for expectant mothers to the hospital for delivery
94% of all women in Uttar Pradesh receive the tetanus toxoid vaccine by their third trimester
75% pregnant women receive iron and folic acid tablets
85% of women in Navi Mumbai deliver in hospitals

But there are still miles to go…so many places to cover and so many lives to touch.

You can know more about us on:
Sure Start Site:

Blankets for the poor in Delhi

I received this as a forward. Delhiites who would like to pitch in can please contact Snigdha directly:

Share a blanket! Share warmth and love!

A hot cup of tea/coffee, cosy bed, lots of blankets and loving family members make our winters warm and comfortable. But for hundreds of homeless people living on the streets in Delhi winters mean harsh and chilly nights, inadequate covering, illness, thus adding onto their daily battle for survival.

In a bid to share warmth and love with these people we have started distributing blankets this season. Yesterday was the first day and we had gone to ISBT from Pitampura via Punjabi Bagh and Azad Market area. On our way, we saw many people sleeping on the roadside pavements, under the bridge & flyover, on the road dividers and even on/under bus-stop seats. Some of them had blankets to cover themselves (but definitely not enough to beat the chilly weather), some barely had a sheet or cloth piece, some only had plastic sheets to wrap themselves and some had nothing. There was a man who had covered upper half of his body with his jacket as probably that was the only warm thing he had. It was a heart-rending sight. I felt as if I had never experienced low temperature.

We could give blankets to only some of the people as we dint have enough. We had to return with the images of expecting eyes in our hearts and minds but we did promise ourselves to go again with more blankets.

Your support in this regard would be most appreciated. You can help us by giving any number of blankets or money (Rs. 150 per blanket). Blankets are available in the market for even less than 150 but after some research on the quality and prices of different blankets, we found it to be the best buy. But please feel free to help us in any which ways. There is no deadline and you can give as per your convenience but would request you not to delay too much. It would be nice if you could inspire and ask your family and freinds to contribute as well. We plan to make more trips across Delhi and the next one will be tomorrow to ISBT again. Thereafter we will take different routes.

Heartfelt thanks to Rita Arora, Ashu Jain, Satya Jain, Madhu Taneja, Arti Loria, Monica, Priyanka and Anita Jain for their generous contributions in the form of blankets and/ money.

Please feel free to contact me to know or discuss anything. I look forward to your support and contribution to spread warmth and love this winter season :)

PS: Attached are some pictures that we had taken yesterday.

Snigdha Jain

Update on Aahana

This update in from Baisali, from our Kolkata Chapter:

Hello all.

Have just come back from my meeting with Dr. Saikat Gupta (friend and onco-surgeon) at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital. Purnima had taken all the medical documents along.

The procedure is a simple five-minute one and can be done in his chamber. He said he'll do it free of charge. We just need to buy the tube and the post-procedure medicines. I can take care of that. This procedure needs to be performed every six months, because these tubes do face a lot of wear-and-tear.

While we were there, we also went and met Dr. Debashis Mitra, Aahana's paediatrician, who advised Purnima on the child's diet, etc.

We are looking at a January date to change tubes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

We are in JAM

Read about us here:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jobs for candidates from Low Income Communities

Dear All,

1. About us:

We specialise in helping youth from low-income communities only to get entry level jobs with companies. In the past two and a half years we have placed about 700 candidates in various cities with reputed Retail, Hospitality and other companies (such as Cafe Coffee Day, Yum! Restaurants [KFC], Jumbo King, Smokin' Joe's Pizza, Westside Stores, The Loot Stores, Eureka Forbes, and S.R. Facilities). We assist several NGOs in getting jobs for the youth they support.

2. Jobs available:

There exist several vacancies for youth between 18 to 30 years in different cities with reputed companies in the Retail and Hospitality (fast food outlets) sectors. Vacancies exist for 10th standard educated or not, and English / non-English speaking. Gross salaries range between Rs. 48,000 to Rs. 72,000 p.a. plus performance incentives. No placement fees is payable by the candidates.

3. Soft skills training:

We also conduct training classes in Mumbai for youth in spoken basic English, confidence building and interview appearing skills thereby strengthening the candidates' communication skills leading to better job prospects for him/her.

Seriously interested persons / NGOs may kindly contact: or 09321539390.
Kind Regards,

Kapil Marwaha

Munsar Services
. . . . Helping Hands
[An initiative of Kapil Marwaha and Associates]

Appeal for flood relief, Ponnur, Gunter District.

I received this appeal in the mail yesterday:


I am part of a small group of people that is supporting an orphanage in Ponnur in the Gunter District. Surrounding the orphanage is a large number of flood victims that need help. Here is a list of the things they need:

1) Clothes to wear , now the childrens and younger's and elders doen't have clothes to wear.
2) To stand for their lives if we could be able to supply bamboos and tatched leaves to wear on their houses if we could be able to supply this they can wear tatched houses to live.
3) Rice bags, if we can distribute RICE it will be useful to them to cook food and to eat.
4) Cooking vessels if we are able to supply cooking vessels to them they will be cook the rice in the vessels and they can eat.
5) Water, now our area water was impurified by floods. If we are able to supply water they can drink this purified water which doesn't contains impurities.

The orphanage is OK and does not need your assistance. It is the people around the orphanage that need help. The orphanage is prepared to serve as a distribution point for the flood victims. People affiliated with the orphanage are ready to volunteer, if they can get the things the flood victims need.

Can you supply the things that are needed?

Thank you for your kind response.

Rob Hunt

For people who have stuff to donate, please e-mail the orphanage to get specific instructions about delivering stuff.

Here is the e-mail:

Kids needing heart surgery...

Parents of kids needing Heart Surgery,

Contact - Shri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences,
E.P.I.P Area, Whitefield, Bangalore, 560066
Tel - +91-080-28411500
Email -

Team Indiahelps also requests everyone reading this to pass on the message too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Update on Shabnam

For all those who remember Shabnam, the girl from Cheetah Camp, we
were helping out with rent and grocery money after her home was burnt
down in the Cheetah Camp blaze last January, the good news is that she
has now got a job with HDFC. India Helps is delighted to state we can
now declare this case successfully closed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Connecting Names to Faces... 2

The Team @ Indiahelps
L-R Front row - Nihaas Basheer, Sumita Naik, Kiran Manral, Sangeeta Irani, Suma Nagmote, Shyaam Nagarajan, Dr. Patil.
L-R Back row - Aparna Nair, Dilnavaz Bamboat, Sayantani Dutta

Missing from Picture from the Mumbai team - Parul Sharma, Rohini Haldea, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Prachi Gupta, Lavanya

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

26/11 Looking back, Looking ahead 10

Suma Nagmote is a bubbly, chirpy market researcher who had her own personal hell during 26/11 when her father, Commander S Nagmote, who was security head at the Trident was incommunicado for three days during the terrorist attack. She has been a hands on volunteer on the Karuna Waghela and the Shabira Khan case, and seen Karuna grow into an independent, determined and empowered woman.
Here are the cases she has handled:

Karuna Waghela

(i) Name of the deceased/ injured, occupation and approximate monthly earnings at the time of the casualty:

Deceased: Thakur Budhabhai Waghela, (33) sweeper at GT Hospital. Earnings approximately Rs 4000 pm.

(ii) Where did the casualty occur:

Ajmal Amir Kasab shot Waghela at his residence in GT Hospital compound.

(iii) Dependents (number and details)

Wife: Karuna Waghela (32), Children: Roshni (11 yrs), Dhaval (8) and Neeraj (5 yrs).

(iv) Details of the situation at that time:

Karuna Waghela lived with her inlaws:- father in law/mother in law/ brother in law and his family. The in-laws took the Rs 5 lakh compensation given to her by the government. She was totally dependent on them.

(v) IH contact: Suma Nagmote.

(vi) Details of help/ support provided by IH: India Helps stepped in on Day 3 itself by handing over funds for the last rites for Thakur Budhabhai Waghela. India Helps volunteers provided groceries and funds for Karuna and her children. India Helps also provided emotional support to Karuna. India Helps helped raise awareness about Karuna's plight through the blog, and media which in turn helped raise funds for her children.

(vii) Media coverage:

(viii) Present situation:

She has moved out of her inlaws home and is living in accommodation (MHADA flat)alloted to her by the government. She is currently working as a sweeper in GT Hospital, a job which she got on compassionate grounds at a salary of Rs 3000 pm. Karuna has been empowered to open a bank account independent of her inlaws. She is also being offered aid by the Taj Trust. Karuna is a strong woman and totally focussed on ensuring her children complete their education and make a future for themselves.

(ix) Status of the case : India Helps is continuing to provide emotional support to Karuna

(x) Future requirements: India Helps is attempting to build a corpus for Karuna's children's education. India Helps is also trying to raise funds to take out a life insurance cover for Karuna, with her children as beneficiaries.

(xi) Photographs: Nil

(xii) Present contact details of the dependents:

MHADA colony, Prateeksha Nagar , Sion, Mumbai.

Shabira Khan

(i) Name of the deceased/ injured, occupation and approximate monthly earnings at the time of the casualty:

Shabira Khan, injured. Home maker who took tuitions. Rs 3000 approx.

(ii) Where did the casualty occur:

She was injured by the taxi blast at Wadi Bunder along with her son, Abdul.

(iii) Dependents (number and details): The family comprises Shabira, her husband, her children, Abdul (24), Khalid (22), Sabah (19)m Shaheen (18), Shahid (17) and Sajid (14). Her husband works with Bombay Port Trust, earning Rs. 3,000 per month. All the kids except Abdul, the oldest are studying in school (Jamiya Islamiya school).

(iv) Details of the situation at that time:

She had splinters which were embedded and had damaged her nerves in her foot and back. Her oldest son Abdul had a splinter below his right eye which thankfully missed his eye, and hence has not lost vision.

(v) IH contact: Suma Nagmote

(vi) Details of help/ support provided by IH: India Helps helped raise funds for surgery to be conducted on Shabira's foot. Shabira was languishing in hospitals for close to six months post 26/11. She was shifted out of JJ to BPT, Wadala. She was then shifted to to Saifee hospital for an operation on her foot. During her stay at Saifee, they discovered she had jaundice in her system, detecting which doctors at Saifee asked her to be transferred to Kasturbha Hospital which they told the family is a hospital specially equipped to handle jaundice.

One of the daughters had taken leave from school to be with her everyday during her hospitalisation.

(vii) Media coverage:

(viii) Present situation: Shabira is out of hospital and back home. She still requires another operation on her foot as her nerves are damaged, and if not done, her leg would need to be amputated.

(ix) Status of the case: Case Closed

(x) In case of an ongoing case, future requirements: NA.

Its been a year...

...since I turned to the internet in a desperate bid to do something to help the victims of 26/11. At that moment, I didnt know quite what to do, but blogging was something I was familiar with, and knew that I would get an audience. And people would read. And people wanted to know how to help. I hoped people would help.

What I wasnt prepared for was the overwhelming rush of support and love and help that flooded my inbox. An inbox that soon became our inbox as a team fell into place. A team called India Helps. People who wanted to give their time and energy. Some strangers, some acquaintances and all of whom who went on to become dear friends.

Which is what I have been shouting hoarse about everytime I read articles about how online activism post 26/11 died down. Anonymous online members donot make a team. A team comprises people who meet offline, interact, and are passionate about giving time and effort. Team members who are all committed to work together. Whether online or off. Whether it was hunting down victims of the CST shooting or their bereaved down in slums and locations on the outskirts of the city, or being available online 24 x 7 as a team to discuss issues real time to derive a solution to whatever needed to be done.India Helps comprises of fabulous people who make up a fabulous team. A team that goes beyond the 'I', and actually thinks of itself as a 'we'.

Over the past year, we have actively worked with six victims and bereaved of the CST shootout. We worked with Karuna Waghela who went from being a scared, helpless widow, with all the compensation she received being ursurped by her in laws to becoming a strong, independent woman committed to ensuring her children get a good education and go on to make a good life for themselves. We saw Momina Khatoon, bereft, with three small children and pregnant with the fourth, go through a delivery and emerge with the desire to earn her living and support herself. We have seen Balaji Kharatmal, injured with shrapnel and burdened under the obligation to provide singlehandedly for an extended family of 11, pick himself up, get his railway job and get back to the business of living. We saw young Ganesh Malpe give up his studies and take up the railway job he was offered because he was now man of the house. We watched as the Narkar family got their bearings together and emerged from their bereavement. We went to Harkabai's home, a woman who had struggled to bring up her children singlehandedly, and got them settled, and was killed just when it was time for her to retire and lead a life of ease. We met the Asranis, who had lost their young daughter Neetu, and marvelled at the stoicness of the mother. We met many victims. We stood on pavements after initial meets with families of victims, tears streaming down our faces at the injustice of it all.

On the way, we encountered some stray families who wanted to cash in their tragedies. I will not name them here. But it was disheartening. We disassociated ourselves from them and moved on. Our need to help was genuine. That was what mattered.

Today, India Helps has moved on to helping special cases, providing flood relief, and we also co-run three pavement schools in Goregaon West. When I look back at this year I think of it as the turning point in my life. It was this year that taught me that it is important to try to make a difference to someone's life, no matter how small. It doesnt take much to help. And there is no greater reward than seeing someone you've helped to their feet after a disaster, take charge of their life.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

26/11 Looking Back, Looking Ahead 9

Priyanka Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur and Recruitment Consultant, is the force behind India Helps pavement schools. She singlehandedly manages to devote time and attention to our three co-run pavement schools which cater to children from the streets and the slums, helping them get a better education for those already enrolled in municipal schools and for those who dont go to any school, the basic education. Thanks to Priyanka, the schools have grown from a strength of 35 odd when we started to around 150 odd children on a daily basis. These are her words:

26/11 turned out to be the defining moment of my life and made me strongly believe that if we want to see a change we should start by being the change.
As I sat in front of the television watching the horror unfold there was just one thing on my mind, it was to reach out to the victims and help, help in anyway I could. For days after that all I could recall were the images of baby Moshe, the anxious families waiting outside the hotels, the brave martyrs who lost their lives to save ours and the poor victims at CST. Thanks to India Helps I also managed to pitch in to help these victims.
India Helps not just helped the victims but also managed to change my mind set of 'kuch nahi ho sakta' to that of any help big or small can bring about a change. It makes me happy that India Helps could play a part in helping a lot of the affected families reclaim their lives

Poverty, hunger and illiteracy are the main reasons that lead the young to the path of self destruction. All the identified terrorists of 26/11 were such youngsters who were lured to do this for money. IH got involved with a set of like minded people and helped in setting up three pavement schools in Goregaon. These schools help children from underprivileged backgrounds study. Some of the kids do not even go to formal schools. We try to make education as interesting as possible for them.We have organised a picnic for the kids, an educational trip to the Museum and Nehru Planetarium (with Rotary Club) and have celebrated Independence Day and Children's Day. We are now planning a Christmas Party for these kids. Thanks to IH intervention the three schools have grown in strength!
I still remember our first meeting -- all a bunch of novices getting together with just one desire, the desire to help and reach out. IH sure has come a long way from where we started!

Priyanka Chaturvedi

26/11: Looking Back, Looking Ahead 8

From our Kolkata Chapter:

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt, ebullient, cheerful and always willing to go that extra mile to help those in need, whether it is collecting funds and material for the victims of Cyclone Aila, or handholding Purnima Goswami, as she settled back into Kolkata with her grand daughter Aahana Mishra. Here's what she has to say.

Sitting in Kolkata, I watched with horror as the unimaginable unfolded itself before my of my favourite cities in the world was under attack. From terrorists. A part of my mind went straight to denial, hoping that it was part of some unknown, unseen movie. The other part of my mind started praying for the safety of friends and family. I went through many emotions over those three days...fear, terror, anger, rage and an unnerving sense of helplessness.
And I hated it.
When I heard about the IndiaHelps initiative, started by some amazing people, I knew I wanted in. I wanted to help people rebuild their lives from a devastating tragedy. I wanted to put a smile back on someone's face, give hope where none seemed available. IndiaHelps gave me that opportunity.
It helped me overcome those awful feelings of helplessness.

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt

Sunayana Roy, advertising professional and theatre personality, brings to India Helps an optimism and a can do attitude that keeps spirits up. Sunayana has been keenly involved with Momina Khatoon's case and coordinating relief for Cyclone Aila victims. These are her words:

Having sat through the vigil (virtually) with Kiran and Rohini and other friends in Bombay this time last year, I understood why Kiran felt the need to do something about it. Perhaps we can't stop the terrorists... but we can help our fellow citizens in their hour of need. That is what India Helps has been doing for a year, forging past discouragements, rejoicing in small achievements and ready and willing to do whatever it took.

Sunayana Roy
Advertising Professional

From our Delhi Chapter
Smitha Verma, journalist, read about India Helps online and came on board. She has contributed to Aahana Mishra case (a non 26/11 IH case) and worked for flood relief. She handles our New Delhi Chapter. Her words:

It was a night of terror, fear, helplessness and anger. As I sat glued to the television set, in Delhi, watching in horror what was unfolding in Mumbai; I said a silent prayer for being safe. But the anger, anguish and helplessness were palpable. It continued for two days, as I wept inconsolably, for lives lost. They were people whom I have never met but the tragedy that left a toddler without parents, a husband without wife, a father without kids and much more was beyond any consolation. A month later, I came across an initiative India Helps started by Mumbai citizens but having members from across the globe who were united in their thoughts and action. Their adage, "Whom have you helped today?", hit me hard and there I was a part of the team in no time. When I close my eyes and hold my toddler close to my chest, I know there are many who don't know what it feels like, because someone somewhere thought terror was the solution to everything. An year later, I wish the nights are more peaceful, serene and blissful for not just my family but for everyone across the world…….and that is what we at India Helps strive for.
Smitha Verma

Connecting Names to Faces

Meet four of our members from the Mumbai chapter: (L to R) Aparna Nair, Suma Nagmote, Dilnavaz Bamboat, Shyaam Nagarajan. This picture also appeared alongside the article "The Changemakers" on page 29 of the Mumbai Mirror on 26/11/09. We only wish the whole team could have been in the picture!

Photo credit: Sebastian D'Souza