Two weeks ago, Pascol Saldhana(54) received a distress call from Rafique Siddiqui, the principal of Holy Mother school, Malwani. He was desperately trying to locate an oxygen cylinder for one of his teacher’s (Shabana Malik’s) husband who had breathing difficulties due to contracting the SARs-COV 2 virus.
“The principal was aware of my wife, Rozy’s condition and knew that we have a spare oxygen cylinder at home. He reached out to me and asked if I could help him source one urgently,” says Pascol, who has been friends with the principal for a decade.
In a heartbeat, Rozy (51) agreed to share her spare cylinder with the patient, despite her underlying conditions.
Owing to the timely help from a complete stranger, the patient’s life was saved.
The Saldhanas are residents of Malwani Church area in Mumbai. While Pascol works as a decorator for weddings and school events, Rozy worked as a teacher for 16 years at St Xavier’s school in Borivali.
Five years ago, she was diagnosed with kidney failure and had to start undergoing dialysis regularly. This took a toll on her physical health and caused severe weight loss.
Rozy tells The Better India about her journey so far. She says, “After one year of dialysis, from 68 kgs my weight dropped down to 28 kgs. I was bedridden because whenever I would move around my pulse rate would fall. My immunity was also weak which made me vulnerable to infections. There were times when I had a paralytic attack and a haemorrhage, and I went into a coma for a few months. Owing to this, we had to spend Rs 2 crore to set up necessary medical infrastructure at home and keep an oxygen cylinder handy during emergencies.”
Still, the ailing patient wanted to help save another’s life. And that’s not all. As Maharashtra, like other states, faced a shortage of oxygen supply, Rozy sold all her jewellery to purchase more oxygen cylinders to help others in need.
‘I want to help many people before I die’
Once the word spread, Pascol started to receive more calls from friends and family members who were also desperately trying to source oxygen cylinders for their loved ones. “While some were asking if they could buy one from me, the others were requesting if I could spare the cylinders for free as they could not afford to buy one,” says Pascol.
The duo raised Rs 80,000 from the sale of Rozy’s jewellery. With help from their two sons — Anselm and Shalom, they began identifying suppliers and procuring oxygen cylinders too.
The family has helped six people procure oxygen cylinders free of cost and delivered them to their doorsteps. They continue to receive requests for help and have placed orders for four more oxygen cylinders.
“But our finances are tight. We have spent Rs 80,000 purchasing cylinders, refilling a few, and transporting them. Apart from that, we also have to spend money on my mother’s medicines and other day-to-day expenses. Now, my father has started to sell things from his office to make ends meet,” says Rozy’s younger son, Shalom (27).
“I do not know how long I will live. But before I go, I want to help as many people as possible. So, I told Pascol to sell all my gold jewellery so that we can buy oxygen cylinders for those in need,” says Rozy.
You can help the Saldhanas in their noble cause to increase free oxygen supply to the needy. If you wish to fund Rozy and Pascol’s initiative, or offer them even a small amount of monetary support, you can send your donations here.
Name of the account holder – Pascol Cajetan Saldhana
Name of the bank – Bank Of India
Account number – 018710110002533
IFSC Code – BKID0000001
Edited by Yoshita Rao