The “Don Ghaas” volunteers prepare the meal at Parel in central Mumbai, transferring it to a huge tin.
Mumbai: The kin of around 150 patients in civic-run KEM, trust-run Wadia and Tata hospitals are being fed free-of-charge every day by a NGO named “Don Ghaas” started by a Mumbai-based couple who lost their seven-year-old son to Nieman Pick ‘C’, a terminal illness, three years ago.
The Parel- based couple, Vikrant and Sheetal Bhatkar, lost their son Aarya to the disease after which they decided to help the relatives of patients admitted in and around Parel-based hospitals by providing them healthy food for free.
Jigisha, a volunteer with “Don Ghaas” said that Aarya was diagnosed with the terminal illness when he was only 18 months’ old. Nieman Pick ‘C’ is a storage disorder that typically affects one in 1,000,000 people. After Aarya’s death, the Bhatkars initiated the noble cause.
Ms Jigisha told The Asian Age, “I am associated with this NGO since many days. Every day, we assemble outside KEM hospital with a large tin containing vegetable curry (sabzi), roll of three rotis (chapatis), one banana, and butter milk. This is the fixed meal menu for all days.”
When asked how they came up with this idea, Ms Jigisha said, “When their (the Bhatkars’) son was admitted in hospital, the couple witnessed the plight of other patients’ family members who were struggling for food and could not afford to leave the patients alone just for food. In most of the cases, no one from their families was able to come to hospital with the tiffin. People from other states in particular found it difficult to eat outside food every day because it was expensive and unhealthy too.”
Ram Pandit, whose wife Savaridevi is battling cancer and who hails from Bihar, told this newspaper, “None of our family members stay here, the food is expensive and unhealthy. I am the only one to take care of her. By eating outside food, I may fall sick and then who will take care of my wife?”
The “Don Ghaas” volunteers prepare the meal at Parel in central Mumbai, transferring it to a huge tin. The NGO also helps patients to arrange medicines and medical tests. The NGO is planning to expand its business to other hospitals in the city.