When their son Arjunuday was born in 2006, Rahul and Tulika Verma were hit with the terrible news that he had been born with multiple congenital defects and would require expensive medical treatment, possibly for the rest of his life. Their otherwise normal lives would soon be upended by months’ long stays at the hospital and numerous surgeries.
It was during this period they realised the need to spread empathy across the world…that every parent and child deserves the dignity of leading a life with access to quality healthcare regardless of their background.
“In the beginning Arjunuday was in a private hospital, and then we took him to AIIMS, Delhi. There we saw what struggle really was. There were all these patients who were on medication but couldn’t afford a nutritious meal; their families themselves could not afford to eat. And I started helping out in whatever little way I could,” says Rahul. Seeing the amount of despair around him, Rahul decided to start the Uday Foundation in honour of his son to provide quality healthcare for the underprivileged, especially the children.
Nearly ten years since its inception in Delhi, the foundation has grown exponentially and now runs multiple programs and initiatives across the year. With two doctors associated and an army of volunteers, they conduct health camps for the underprivileged, organise emergency response and disaster relief programs and also cater to the requirements of the needy. Rahul says that the foundation doesn’t rely too much on donations from big corporates but rather raises money through the generosity of individuals across the city.
“We also have our own ambulance service. And three times in the week, we ferry the kids from the OPD small distances for fun,” adds Rahul. The foundation also organises storytelling sessions thrice a week.
But providing healthcare to children is only part of what the foundation does. Currently, given the drop in the Delhi temperature, they are spearheading a drive to provide warm clothes, blankets and other necessities to the homeless population across the city.
Rahul says that it is always tough trying to strike a balance in life, especially when one has a sick child at home, but says that the family of four (they have a daughter as well) is well up for the challenges. Once again, he comes back to empathy. “We must sensitise our society better. Everyone, including schools and teachers, need to be shown how they should behave and act with children with special needs and disabilities. It’s something that is sorely lacking right now,” he muses, drawing from his own experiences with his son.
Arjunuday, for his part, is the epitome of perseverance as he continues to beat the odds at such a young age despite having had 9 surgeries in the span of 10 short years. “He now attends a normal school but his immunity is low and he is prone to falling sick.” He needs an artificial mechanism to empty his colon, a daily enema because he can’t have voluntary bowel movements, but his parents are confident that their son will emerge victorious.
At the end of the day, Rahul says that he has immense faith in the goodness of human beings. “One thing I have learnt from running this foundation for all these years is that there are many wonderful people out there who are willing to help and there are people out there who desperately need that help. It’s a matter of getting them together.”
And that’s exactly what he intends to do.
Click here to know more about Uday Foundation. Contact the couple at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also donate towards the Warm Christmas drive here.