Harakchand Salwa decided to serve those afflicted suffering from cancer after his friend from school lost his father to the deadly disease. His friend would have been forced to drop out of school due to financial problems. But Salwa was determined to not let that happen. He decided to forgo what little allowance he used to get for his daily -commute to school and gave that money to his friend — opting to walk 5 km back and forth to school every day.
It was only the beginning. In the decades that have followed, Salwa steadily helped families from underprivileged backgrounds to face cancer bravely and with dignity.
In a recently published post by Humans of Bombay, Salwa, who is often dubbed as the “godfather of cancer patients,” talks about the journey that led him to start the Jeevan Jyot foundation. The foundation provides healthy meals to patients being treated at the Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai and even their families.
He says ,”Cancer patients from across India come to Tata hospital and since they don’t have money or any relatives here they sleep on the footpath and eat vada pav every day. Once a patient’s brother was down with severe stomach pain and doctors found that for weeks he had been eating vada pav only, because that was all he could afford.”
Nine years ago Salwa also made the decision to shut down his restaurant in order to work on Jeevan Jyot on a full-time basis. Today, 700 people get two meals daily.
Learn more about Jeevan Jyot here.
“At the age of 12 my friend lost his father and he was going to leave school as there was no other earning member in the…
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“At the age of 12 my friend lost his father and he was going to leave school as there was no other earning member in the family. We were in seventh grade and I didn’t want him to drop out so I told him to continue and that I would figure something out. I didn’t have any extra money either but I knew that I have no choice and had to find a solution. Our school was 5km away and I used to get some money for travelling which was the only mode of money for me. I started walking to school every day to save money for him and paid his fees in instalments. That’s a childhood memory I can never forget and my urge to help people started since then.
32 years back I met a lady who was looking for some help for her mother who was suffering from cancer. She was the only one in the family and had asked for help to accompany them to Tata hospital. I had never been to Tata hospital before and looked for it and after going there due to insufficient funds we told her to take her mother to the BMC hospital. During this time I had to go to Tata hospital quite a few times for her reports, that’s when I saw 5 buildings of Tata hospital. I felt terrible after I saw that one of the buildings had a general ward and realised that the old lady’s treatment would have been better there. I apologised to the old lady’s daughter but she said ‘ please don’t, you are my God! All the doctors had told me that we’ll lose my mother but you’re the only one who supported us and she’s still alive because of that’. It was that one line that made me start Jeevan Jyot — an NGO to help cancer patients.
Cancer patients from all over India come to Tata hospital and since they don’t have money or any relative here they used to sleep on the footpath and eat Vada pav every day. Once a patient’s brother was down with severe stomach pain and doctors found out that for weeks he used to only eat vada pav, because that was all he could afford. At times he used to save money and only eat one Vada pav the whole day which completely ruined his system. Since then I made sure that patient’s family members get some decent healthy meal at Jeevan Jyot and today around 700 people get two meals daily here. 9 years ago I shut my restaurant and got involved with Jeevan Jyot full-time because the happiness I get from knowing that someone’s life has been saved because of me is priceless. Ultimately every one dies… you can’t take anything with you when you leave…but the impact you create in your time here goes far beyond your years.”