When Harakhchand Savla decided to mortgage his fairly profitable hotel to serve underprivileged cancer patients in Mumbai, many mocked him saying, “You are a baniya (trader)! Why are you abandoning a profitable business to start a business of losses?”But Harakhchand never gave up. At the age of 11, Harakhchand would trudge five kilometers through the summer heat and cold wintery mornings to school on foot. Saving the bus allowance his father gave him, he helped pay the fees of his poor friend, to save him from dropping-out for three years. Today Harakhchand is 59, but his spirit of selfless giving continues. .If you have ever seen the serpentine line outside Tata Cancer Memorial Hospital in Parel, you would know how people diagnosed with cancer from different parts of India spend days and months on the pavement to seek cancer treatment at subsidized prices. Since Harakhchand was quite popular in his locality due to the community work he started as part of ‘Lower Parel Mitra Mandal,’ people would approach him quite often. On a usual day, a young girl walked up to him and asked for help after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. The girl was financially unstable and clueless about the course of treatment. Harakhchand took the mother-daughter duo to Tata Memorial hospital. Unaware of the memorial building that offered subsidized treatment, they landed up entering the private OPD.
“I told her she would end up spending a month’s salary in a day there. So we took her to Sion Hospital where her mother’ was treated for over two months. Her cancerous breast was surgically removed and she recovered. But when I understood that the error I had made, I was overcome with guilt. I joined my hands and cried for her forgiveness. But she smiled at me and said, ‘It doesn’t matter where the treatment happened, you saved my mother’s life. You are God to us, Savlaji.’”These words changed his life. He realized how one act of service could change people’s lives, and how little it took to become ‘God’ in someone’s eyes.“It was the turning point of my life. As repentance to my mistake, I decided to dedicate my life to the cause of cancer patients,” says Harakhchand. Harakhchand worked individually for over 12 years with his own money. He would feed cancer patients and their relatives on the pavements of the hospital from his own kitchen completely free of cost. But as the number of people kept rising, he realized the size of his pocket remained the same. He rented out his own hotel that was getting him good business and raised some money. From these funds, he started the Jeevan Jyot Cancer Relief charitable activity right opposite Tata Cancer Hospital, on the pavement next to Kondaji Building.
Of over 80 activities run by the trust, 30 are cancer-related. Apart from the 700 persons he feeds, over 100 families who have their own vessels or kitchens to cook are donated free foodgrains every month. For those cancer patients surviving on liquids due to throat cancer and food pipes, turmeric milk or milk powder are provided. They also run a toy bank for cancer kids, who Harakhchand fondly refers to as his Bacchus. These kids, who are struggling every single day through the pain, have ample toys at their disposal to play and are free to take them home.“When they get tired of one toy, they give it back in exchange for another one that catches their whim,” he says laughing.
(Text Source: The Better India)
Tags: Harakchand Savla | Jeevan Jyot Cancer Relief | Jeevan Jyot Foundation Harakhchand Savla | Harakhchand Savla Trust | Shelter of Cancer Patients | Humanitarian Landmark