Mealtime in Janaseva FoundationIt was my first trip to Pune and little did I realize it was going to be such a memorable one. Amidst heavy rains, I boarded a bus at the ever-crowded Dadar for the Maharashtrian capital.

It turned out to be a three and half hour serene journey as the monsoons made the ride through the ghats simply breathtaking. Little did I realize how the time passes by. A quick rickshaw ride from the Pune bustand, and I found myself at Janaseva Foundation’s office. The office also serves as a clinic for founder Dr. Vinod Shah’s Gastro practice. For the past 27 years, he has successfully kept both alive.

Quite a humble office for an organization, which I soon learnt, has major achievements. From caring for the elderly to free cataract surgeries, to nursing and ward boy training, to computer and tailoring, to a home for the destitute, the list is endless. I learnt that all activities were a result of interactions with the poor, over the years.

I also drove with their team to Katraj, a 15km bumpy drive from Pune, to see for myself the activities at their home here. Located amongst the western ghats, absolutely serene and spotlessly clean, this home is definitely more than a roof over their heads for the people residing here.

Home to elderly who were found off the road and orphaned children, they now live here as one BIG family. The children go to school and are well-fed and even helped with homework by the caretakers. Vocational training in tailoring and computers are imparted with the aim of making the youth financially independent. I was touched by the words of the center’s caretakers, who said to me, “It’s a family away from family so we feel like we are at home through the day.”

As we prepared to drive back to my guest house, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate the folks at the center had been. Were it not for Janaseva, they would literally have been on the streets. In fact, that’s where they were when the foundation first found them. As these thoughts filled my filled, I was approached by a young boy to fill the visitors’ book. On the drive back, I learnt that his name was Rahul and that he was found in a dustbin as a baby; the foundation had raised him and he is one of the caretakers and admin boys at the center today!

 Janaseva means serving people and I saw that happening in so many ways!

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