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Thursday, July 07, 2022

A home for 300 homeless: Tin roof, little funds, no water, one doctor

Originally an old age home, Earth Saviours Foundation in Rangpuri Pahadi, Mahipalpur, now caters to all those abandoned, starting with 16 year olds.

Written by Shalini Narayan | New Delhi |
Updated: June 16, 2015 5:01:09 am
Inside the Earth Saviours Foundation. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna) Inside the Earth Saviours Foundation. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The plates that the wrinkled hands hold are empty. Above them is a tin roof reflecting the rays of a hot June sun. Under its shade, they live, all 300 of them, looking to outlast the summer in a barrack not bigger than a badminton court. For many, this is now home.

Originally an old age home, Earth Saviours Foundation in Rangpuri Pahadi, Mahipalpur, now caters to all those abandoned, starting with 16 year olds.

Their caretaker is Ravi Kalra, who devoted his life to running the home with a staff of barely 10 volunteers. Even though funding is steady, there seems to be no limit to the number of residents arriving at the address, with at least one person being added to the strength every week.

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“Most of the government hospitals and police refer these people to us. Most of them have similar stories – their children left them while they were undergoing treatment at a hospital. At the time of their discharge, with no claimants, the hospitals refer them to us. We will take care of as many who come by, but our funds are obviously not enough compared to the increasing numbers. To begin with, we have had only one ambulance since 2008 when this home was set up. There is only one doctor from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) who visits them every week. But for so many patients, the medical facility is nothing when compared to their needs and requirements,” Kalra said.

“We started off with merely tarpaulin sheets propped on bamboo sticks for shelter. We now have tin sheets, which although are a good form of shelter, leave the inhabitants wanting to sleep outside since they heat up in the summer. But this is all we can afford. For the past four months, the water level too has gone below by 400 feet and all efforts at requesting the government to provide us with water or tankers has failed. We have got only three tankers in three months,” he said.

“Nearly 35 inmates have died over the past two months of natural causes at the home because of lack of facilities,” Kalra said.

On Monday, taking cognisance of the plight of the home, leader of opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijendra Gupta announced financial assistance of Rs 15 lakh on behalf of the BJP Legislative wing.

Gupta, who along with the two other BJP MLAs Om Prakash Sharma and Jagdish Pradhan visited the home, said, “The NGO is in need of financial assistance. They cannot alone take the entire responsibility of taking care of old people being brought day in and day out to the home. The home is, in fact, carrying out the work and responsibilities of the government since a large number of people are being referred to here by government hospitals and police. Ravi has been writing to the government repeatedly highlighting the need for water and other facilities. Nothing has been done so far,” Gupta said.

Challenging the government, Gupta said, “The chief minister should get the work of boring a tubewell started within 48 hours. If this does not happen, we will do so and are prepared to face the consequences.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, one of the inmates, 80-year-old Ivan Patrick Cain said, “My family abandoned me 20 days ago. They said there no longer was any place for me in their house since the number of members was increasing. No one has paid me a visit since.”

Cain retired from the Indian Railways as a chief power comptroller. His elder son works for Air India while his younger son works in the government.

Kalra claims foreigners too are referred to the home. “Over the past years, seven foreign nationals, including those from US and Rwanda, have been sent here.”

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