Three generations of NRIs are working with IDRF to save lives in India. Here is the story of their remarkable inspiration, and IDRF’s partner, Saraswati Jain Seva Samiti.
“It is the biggest in Jaipur, yet the Sawai Mansingh Hospital is creaking at the seams, flooded by an overflow of injured and ailing humanity, lack of finance and government apathy. Saraswati Jain is 77 years old, a heart patient with severe arthritis… but she has single-handedly changed the lives of patients in the hospital.”
Her son Lucky, an Atlanta-based doctor, has supported his mother’s NGO through IDRF for years. Mrs. Jain “….started by bringing milk and bread in the morning for a few families in the wards she adopted. Other chipped in and soon she could provide breakfast for everyone. She also managed to have air conditioning installed in the blood banks [and] water coolers in the wards along with fans…. A medical supplies shop outside the hospital became authorized to give free medicine.”
Lucky and his wife Shabnam raise funds from NRIs across the US, such as Anil and Shubhra Khatod of Oklahoma. “Anil says he had met Mrs. Jain during one of her visits to her son’s home and was deeply moved by her dedication to her cause and her wisdom. He and his wife chip in with donations along with other friends and family… They went to visit… the hospital along with their two sons Sumit and Sahil.”
“What [they] confronted at the Sawai Mansingh Hospital was heartbreaking. Sumit says, ‘There were patients sprawled on both sides of a four foot wide hallway on the floor. People were unconscious, some lying on towels, grievously injured due to an industrial or vehicular accident. If this had happened to me in America, I would have received aid within minutes. Here people lay for hours waiting for help to come and many died waiting.’ ”
‘” ‘There were so many painful stories that unfolded before our eyes,’ said Anil. ‘We saw a young woman whose husband was dying of cancer and his disease had resulted in the selling of their meager belongings and accumulating a lot of debt. I just emptied my pockets and gave her whatever cash I had at that moment on me. ‘You cannot just see what you see and walk away from it,’ says Sumit. He later returned the hospital as a volunteer and raised thousands of dollars for the project
Mrs. Jain and other volunteers visit patients every day, offering them meals, snacks, and medicines. Since this article was written, the Jain and Khatod families and IDRF have raised thousands for Saraswati Jain Seva Samiti. Today, the patients have access to better equipment, free diagnostic tests, and free surgeries. The NGO also runs an ashram for lepers. Mrs. Jain declares, “The blessings of the poor provide me with fuel…. I have more energy now than I used to when I was 50 years younger!”