Dr Nita Mukherjee finds selfless volunteering for looking after children afflicted with cancer
After a 24-year long career with Unilever in UK, when Nihal Kaviratne returned home to Mumbai with wife Shyama, they were toying with the idea of doing ‘something meaningful’ in the social sector. They had an abiding interest in welfare of destitute children. Philanthropy was in their genes—their parental families had a long tradition of charitable work. Ms Kaviratne’s family ran Bal Anand, a school for destitute children; Mr Kaviratne’s family supported various catholic orphanages.
In their interactions with many associations helping poor cancer patients, the one yawning gap they found was clean shelters for patients who came to cities for treatment. In one of their visits to Tata Memorial Hospital (Mumbai), they were “horrified to find patients living on the pavements outside the Hospital.” A situation that often resulted in patients, already debilitated with radio- and chemo-therapy, contracting secondary infections that delayed and hampered their recovery.
The Kaviratnes decided that this was the niche they would work at filling—to provide a safe and clean living space for children to recuperate during their cancer treatment. Mr Kaviratne says, “Depressed minds and immune systems combine with a lack of hygiene to reduce survival rate.” Thus was born the St Jude India ChildCare Centres, as a Section 25 company, in February 2006 that provides completely free stay for children, under 15 years, with two family members, during their treatment period at Tata Memorial. The first St Jude Centre, at Mhaksar Hospital (Mumbai), for eight children was funded totally by the Kaviratnes. The emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness is visible at all St Jude Centres. “This is the one thing we are obsessive about,” says Manisha Parthasarathy, a volunteer managing committee member.
The Kaviratnes decided to ‘perfect their model’ before replicating it elsewhere. It took them 20 months. Today, St Jude has seven Centres in Mumbai (with 79 units) and one in Kolkata (17 units). They plan to set up Centres in Jaipur and Delhi in 2013-14 and expansion plans include Bengaluru and Pune, amongst other cities. Each unit has a bed, cupboard and shelves for a child and two adults. Toilets, baths, dining & recreation/activity areas and kitchen are common. Each family is provided a gas stove, basic utensils and ‘starter pack’ of staples on admission and given weekly basic nutritional support comprising atta, tur dal, oil and milk powder. Additional vegetables, etc, have to be arranged by each family. St Jude has a list of possible donors who the families can approach for support. “Every year, more than 5,000 children travel to Mumbai to get treated for cancer. St Jude has admitted over 2,600 children since we started in 2006,” says Manisha. Admission is strictly on the basis of reference from Tata Memorial Hospital, regardless of religion or community.
Mr Kaviratne emphasised St Jude’s 3-circle approach to cancer care: medical, physical and emotional. This is explained to volunteers and their skills and time allocated to one of these circles. Says Manisha, “Although we are an NGO, we are run completely professionally. This is due to our systems and procedures. Every centre has an identical look and processes.”
St Judes has FCRA registration to raise foreign funds and donations are tax-exempt under Section 80G. It encourages online donations in three currencies; US$, euro (through PayPal) and UK£ (via Charity Choice).
2nd floor, Indian Cancer Society
The blast occurred around 10.30am when the BJP office is normally brimming with party workers and candidates. Today is the last day for filing of nominations for the assembly elections, scheduled for 5th May
At least 16 people, including eight policemen, were injured when an “incendiary bomb” placed in a motorbike exploded near the Karnataka BJP Bangalore office buzzing with activity ahead of the 5th May assembly polls.
The policemen were on security duty as part of the bandobast arrangements for the BJP office in view of the polls when the explosion ripped through the crowded area damaging two vans, a Karnataka State Reserve Police vehicle and a motorbike, top police officials said.
“Due to the blast, 16 people are injured—eight policemen on duty and eight civilians. Nobody is critically injured. All are being treated at hospital,” state DGP Lalrokhuma Pachau told reporters.
A National Investigative Agency (NIA) team has arrived in Bangalore, he said, adding, forensic experts would also be joining them. “As of now, we do not know what is the material of the bomb blast. We will know after examination,” he said.
The blast occurred around 10.30am when the BJP office is normally brimming with party workers and candidates. Today is the last day for filing of nominations.
City Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar, citing preliminary investigation, said, “It is an explosion”, adding a motorbike with an “incendiary bomb” was used. The bike was planted in the midst of cars, he said.
Police said “explosive and incendiary materials” were used. According to them, police personnel were injured as they rushed out of their vehicle parked near the party office on seeing the vehicles going up in flames.
Initial reports had said the explosion could have been caused by an LPG cylinder fitted to a car. According to eye witnesses, a loud noise was heard and some vehicles went up in flames, sending the people to flee in panic. Police have cordoned off the area.
With the state going to assembly polls on 5th May, the BJP office, located in a residential locality, is abuzz with activity for the past few weeks.
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