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

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.